Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chip-Chop


Friday is our Soup Day at Little Acorn Playgarden. It is a very special day because each child brings in their very own vegetable to share and therefore our soup is different each week. Because I have three children at different age levels (Age 5, 3 1/2 and 1) - it works out just perfectly because everybody has a special job. Brianna is the oldest so she helps me peel the vegetables...
Chip-chop, chippity chop,
Cut off the bottoms and cut off the tops.
What's left in the middle goes into the pot.
Chip-chop, chippity chop!

~Sweet verse shared with me by Sara Wilson of Love in the Suburbs as taught to her son in StarBright Garden Preschool in Fair Oaks by teacher Pati Callan. How wonderful how these verses get passed around and shared with so many children worldwide?

Lilah is the second oldest and she is learning how to cut the vegetables safely with Ms. Eileen...

And little Fiona is the youngest and she likes to help us place the vegetables in (and out) and in (and out) of the pot until we are ready to cook them...
Soups on!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Our New Caregiver's Calendar is Available!

These calendar pages include important festival and holidays information, the color and grain of the day, an activity to do for each day of the week and an idea or inspiration for each day to help you create the Waldorf home or school environment you wish for your children.

To get an idea of what the year will look like - check out our free sample month for January!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Transformational Walks

One of the ways we can find our true selves and connect to the inner peace that lives within us all is by finding time alone to ask and listen while we are surrounded by nature.

I would like to challenge you all to find time each week to go on a spiritual walk or hike alone or with a mindful partner on a search for something more meaningful than you have ever experienced.
Many of us struggle with the day to day questions and long term challenges of finding our true place in this world and figuring out where we fit – what we are meant here for – and how to discover and live an authentic and fulfilling life within our current circumstances.
As you work on your spiritual connection through these transformational hikes, begin by taking one of the following truths into your heart and trying to keep your mind and heart focused on that one truth throughout your entire walk. Be sure to let silence be your guide, breathe fully and deeply and create an open awareness of all of the signs and messages nature is sending to you as you open yourself up to this process.

Life’s Pure Energy Lives Inside of Us

Despite our struggles, sorrows and challenges – deep down within every single of one of us is a Light – a source of creativity, joy and pure love… there is no exception to this truth. This is the
life energy – the gift we have been given from our very first moment of being and regardless of circumstances, experiences, resentments, anger, bitterness, pain or belief systems – underneath all of our layers remains this pure spirit-filled light burning inside each and every one of us.
Some of us were lucky enough to have been nurtured in a way that allows our light to shine brightly and just need to remind ourselves to stay centered. Many of us have experienced difficulties and events that may have created too many protective layers over our true selves and we find it hard to get back to that place. And, some of us may have had such extreme events and conditions occur as we carried through life, that there may be so many tough and thick layers, it
is difficult to even imagine a light can be found within at all.

But it is.

It is always there and it is waiting for you to peel back the layers, the protective barriers, the roles, the falsehoods, the past, the pain, the anger, the worry….

So it can once again be revealed and so you can begin again and the world can start anew.

So you can begin to experience a transformation. A change. A chance to be reborn in light.

Walk today and hold this truth within you, ask and receive as you experience the world
around you during this process.

You Already Have the Answers
One of the most amazing things about this light within you is that it knows all. We all struggle with hard questions in life – many of us are unsure of our current paths or how to handle a difficult person in our lives. Some of us struggle with addictions or habits that we are unsure of how to break. There may be choices presented to us and we are unsure of which way to go. We may have such sadness or pain that we feel we have nothing left to ask.
Often, we seek answers everywhere else but from within… in self-help books, from friends
or family, a trusted mentor, consulting experts or therapists – sometimes we choose not to seek at all and just give up.

The thing we fail to realize is that the answers are already there for us. They are within the light that we hold inside. If we can truly connect to this sweet source of energy, all we ask for will be received. All we want to know will be revealed.

As you walk today, hold this truth in your mind, body and spirit. Bring your questions and worries deep within yourself and let them be filled with your light. Breathe in the world around you, watch and feel for answers.

To Experience Your True Self You Must Open Your Heart

Oftentimes the reason we are unable to connect to our true selves and receive the answers we are looking for is because we are not living our lives with an open heart. We are closed off, we protect
ourselves by putting up walls, we use sarcasm or judgments to keep from communicating and connecting to others and life in a true, honest and raw manner. We do not want to be hurt. We hold past experiences in our minds as we analyze events or experiences that come into our lives and then we place judgment on them, sometimes even twisting them into something they are not.
Before you can connect to your light, you must work to let go of all negative thought and judgments about the world around you and your experiences within it. You must approach life with an open heart – taking in what it gives you, letting it soak within your true center and
waiting for the answers to rise up.
As you walk today, practice being open to all experiences in the natural world and all discomfort and annoyance that may come your way during the process – barking dogs, a loud lawn mower, cars passing. Let these things flow in and out of you without placing any negativity,
expectations or judgments on them. Accept them all as a part of your true experience without trying to change any of it. Wait and feel yourself deeply as you see that you can be centered and at peace in any situation, even those that would have made you feel stuck or frustrated in the past.

Try to move through your week in this manner, shifting your thoughts and judgments and allowing yourself to experience the truth of life without trying to change it or condemn it in any way.

What you may find is that by doing this – by not changing anything at all – you begin to transform your experience while staying in the exact same place.Ask and You Shall Receive
Regardless of your spiritual and religious beliefs, holding these truths within you as you seek answers to life’s difficult questions and every day challenges will lead you on a path of true discovery and knowledge.

When you have practiced opening yourself up and holding these truths within you sufficiently, take a specific concern with you on your next walk.

Remain open and filled with love while you walk, breathing and watching for nature’s signs to you. Listen fully to yourself, feel your emotions and your body. Hold your question within you – open – and bring it deep within the light inside to keep. Ask for answers that will also
help you serve others. Ask for answers that can not only change your life, but answers that can help change our world.

Your answers may not come immediately…. It is important to remember this is a spiritual journey and you have just begun an amazing process of seeking within, rather than without. If you remain open and connected each day, you will find that the answer will be very clear to you
within time.

Take Action

When your truth has been revealed to you, take action.

If you have discovered that it is time for a career change, seek a position that fulfills you and also makes a difference in our world. If you have found that you must forgive someone to be able to remain open and loving moving forward, let down your guard and do so. If you are still waiting
for an answer, keep practicing openness and non-judgment each day and keep your heart and mind open to receive. It will come and in the process you will find peace and really, that is what we are all truly seeking.

***This piece was originally published in the Little Acorn Learning May Enrichment Guide

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cookie Cutter Bird Treats

Sing a song of Winter
Pocket full of Rye
Throw it out upon the snow
Call the birdies nigh
Birdies chirp and flutter
Seize it and away
Do you always feed the birds
on a winter day?
Today at Playgarden we made cookie cutter bird treats. We used our cookie cutters to cut shapes out of bread this morning and then poked a hole through each one. Then we let it sit out for a few hours before threading string through for hanging. Brianna was very proud to be able to be the one to tie each piece.
We first experimented with using syrup but the seed did not stick well so we went back to the tried and true peanut butter hold and we were in business. Lilah enjoyed buttering up her bird feeders all by herself.
After dipping each piece into birdseed we sang a little birdie song:

Little bird, little bird,
Fly around,
Up to the sky,
Down to the ground.
Little bird, little bird,
Flap your wings.
Open your beak
And sweetly sing.
Little bird, little bird,
Fly to your nest.
Now it is time
To take a rest.

And we bundled up and went outside to hang them on our tree.
Like magic, it started snowing as soon as we got outside.
A symbol of good work, I think.
And Brianna is such a sweet helper. Visiting here, I think, to teach me so many lessons.
“If we do not believe within ourselves this deeply rooted feeling that there is something higher than ourselves, we shall never find the strength to evolve into something higher.” ~

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Competition in Children

"You were placed on this earth to create, not to compete."
~ Dr. Robert Anthony

In our society, we have often taught our children that to be “number one” or the “winner” is the key to success. Many parents and teachers even feel that competition can be healthy and create a drive in children which is necessary to succeed in our fast paced world.

In fact, the opposite is true. Teaching children to compete against one another is actually sending the message to them that they are not good enough - that they must work harder than someone else to be better. When two compete, only one can win and one must fail. Losing creates feelings of inadequacy and winning sometimes creates a false sense of self-worth based on external factors rather than an internal knowing of one’s true self worth and value.

When we think of what we hope for our children it often includes a healthy self-esteem, a giving spirit, intelligence, health, close relationships and self-love and acceptance. Yet when children are asked to constantly compete against one another in all areas of their life, they can learn to define success and something to be ‘won’. And the desire to win and get that recognition and response from others can become quite addictive and feed the ego rather than the soul. What we should really be teaching our children is how to recognize their true beauty and potential within and how to work with others to create.

This is not to say that a child cannot enjoy being on a sport’s team or be taught to focus and work hard at school. It is not to say that they should not be met with excitement when they win a game or bring home a winning art project. But putting the focus constantly on being the best and beating the rest is sending the wrong message.


When we are able to teach our children to value true cooperation rather than competition, they will feel true success and the magic that sparks when a group of people work together and share ideas toward a common goal and help one another reach their true potential.

How can we as parents create a non-competitive environment yet also prepare our children to cope in a competitive world? This is not an easy task but the values the children learn within the four walls of their home are the ones that tend to follow them into adulthood.

Here are some ideas:


*Try not to use winning as a motivator in your home or class. Things like: “Whoever finishes their food first gets an extra scoop of ice cream.” etc.

*Do your best not to compare your children and their accomplishments to one another – try not to say things like “Did you see how good John was playing the clarinet? That’s
why we tell you to practice all the time!"

*When you speak watch what you say… things like: “Who is daddy’s favorite little boy in the
world?” or “Your mommy’s little super-star!”

*When your child does his or her best but does not succeed, let them feel as if they did. Success
should be measured by effort rather than end result.

*Watch how competitive you are and what you are modeling for your children. Do you jokingly compete with your spouse about who cooks the best? Do you sometimes talk poorly of others who have not succeeded?


*Purchase cooperative games to enjoy together at home. These games encourage players to all work together to get to a common goal.

*Create opportunities for working together by cooking as a family, doing yard work together and guiding children toward helping one another. If a child is having trouble reaching a glass, ask her sibling to get it down for her. Teach them to help one another and model the same.

*Point out your child's successes and take the focus off of who won and who lost. Say things like "You did a great job passing the ball to Chris today!"

What are some ways that you feel we can help change our world by teaching children the value of cooperation?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Is 'Good' Stuff Still Clutter?

"Too many activities, and people, and things. To many worthy activities, valuable things, and interesting people. For it is not merely the trivial which clutters our lives but the important as well. " ~Anne Moorow Lindbergh

As we celebrate the Chinese New Year today (the year of the Dragon to be exact), one of the many things that we can do in our homes and schools is to follow the old Chinese tradition of giving our environment a "thorough cleaning". From Wikipedia: "It is believed the cleaning sweeps away the bad luck of the preceding year and makes their homes ready for good luck. Brooms and dust pans are put away on the first day so that the newly arrived good luck cannot be swept away."

Cleaning in itself, while time consuming, is easy enough. Scrub, sweep, mop, dust, organize...

Organize. Hmmm - this is the area where I tend to get stuck. It does not come very naturally to me at all. I'm very lucky to have married a much more organized person than myself. Its not that I do not want to be organized... my mind just does not seem to work that way - putting things in compartments, categories and finding a home for each item is extremely difficult for me. Extremely.

I hope I'm not alone.

One of the ways that I try to get around this is by having less stuff to organize in the first place. Seems simple enough, doesn't it? Declutter down to the basics... down to the good stuff. THEN it will be easier to manage.

The problem?

I have too much GOOD stuff!

Is 'good' stuff still clutter? I'm talking about clothing that is not worn, craft supplies that are still in the packages, sewing patterns I love, toys that are beautiful, wooden and open-ended - even a beautiful Bernina serger that I've never figure out how to use!

How on earth do you let go of the good things?

In addition to good things... I also have many good activities in my life. Lots of volunteer jobs - awesome projects in the works. Oh boy.

So this year... I'm hoping to tame the dragon in my closets, my cabinets and in the toy box... even if its good stuff. I'm going to find the things I haven't worn, touched or my children haven't played with in the last six months and find wonderful new homes for them..maybe even sell them for a little extra pocket money.

Except my yarn. Nobody touches my yarn.

Let's not get too crazy.

How do you keep your good clutter under control?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Snow Bliss

Icy fingers, icy toes,
Bright red cheeks and bright red nose.
Watch the snowflakes as they fall,
Try so hard to count them all.
Build a snowman way up high,
See if he can touch the sky.
Snow forts, snowballs, angels, too,
In the snow, so white and new.
Slip and slide and skate so fast.
Wintertime is here at last.
We woke to a sheet of white that continued on and on until close to 6 inches deep this Saturday in January. Can you imagine any better way to spend your day as a young child than playing, sledding, digging and rolling in the snow? I can't.
I love how the girls just need to step into their backyard to enjoy the different elements and seasons. Growing up in New York didn't allow for that as much when I was a child but the times that I did get out to play in the snow are imprinted on my mind forever. Pure fun.
The best part is coming inside feeling as cold as ice and warming up with a cup of hot cocoa. Sometimes I have to wonder if the girls want to go play in the snow for the fun of it or for a warm cup of cocoa when they return. These are the mommy moments I live for and cherish so much.
So it's a beautiful, perfect, snowy Saturday here at Little Acorn today :)
What's the weather like where you are?

Friday, January 20, 2012

New Virtual Book Club!

A New *Free* Virtual Book Club for Mindful Parents!

Join Us and Read Along!

Our First Book to share together will be ‘Weapons of Mass Instruction’ by John Taylor Gatto. Regardless of your schooling choices – this book will get you thinking about our current educational system and model!

Order the book from your library, Amazon or download it to your reader… read it and in between come on over with a cup of coffee to sit in on our Virtual Book Club Facebook Page! Pop on over any time to chat – you’re never behind!

In addition, our first ‘scheduled’ book discussion will be hosted by bloggers Eileen Straiton, Valarie Budyar and Joy Blaser on February 4th where we will cover the Prologue through Chapter 1 of our book, asking questions and inspiring others as they read along.

Welcome Fiona!

I wonder what your name is,
I wonder if you know,
Your name is Fiona!
Hello, Hello, Hello.


Today was little Fiona's very first day at Little Acorn Playgarden :) - she did great and really loves playing with the children. She is so very sweet. We are so excited to have her join our program.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Paleontology Club

Today Paleontology Club went on a field trip to the Natural Museum of History in NYC. I was happy to volunteer to chaperone as it was always one of my favorite places in the world to be when I was a little girl growing up in New York.

After an amazing show at the Planetarium and checking out meteorites, we soon traveled over to the dinosaurs. They are absolutely mind blowing. Just to imagine that these creatures once roamed the earth. Glorious.
The entire trip, while based in science of course, only strengthened my belief in Divine creation. It is all just too amazing - from the stars in the skies aligning, bursting and recreating just so... to these magical creatures that evolved, disappeared - then us, and our very beautiful planet. It just seems so very intentional, designed - engineered to me. That's just what I feel inside.
To think that we are the only living things out there, to me, seems impossible. Doesn't it? Outside of our solar system... how much more is there? Can you only imagine all that we have yet to discover... all that we will never know? Our knowledge is so limited. In so many ways - beyond the stars and the bones... And still, it is all so amazing and breathtaking each day we live.
How lucky we are to have been able to visit for awhile in this beautiful place at this particular time!

Five Enormous Dinosaurs

Five enormous dinosaurs,
Letting out a roar,
One went away,
And then there were four.

Four enormous dinosaurs,
Munching on a tree,
One went away,
And then there were three.

Three enormous dinosaurs,
Didn't know what to do,
One went away,
And then there were two.

Two enormous dinosaurs,
Having lots of fun,
One went away,
And then there was one.

One enormous dinosaur,
Afraid to be a hero,
He went away,
And then there was zero.

Thankful for these days...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Free Caregiver Calendar for January!


Enjoy this free calendar for January 2012 created especially for Caregivers of Children. This is a free sample for you to enjoy - the entire calendar will be released this week. The calendar includes important festival and holiday information, the full moon, color and grain of the day, artistic activity for the day as well as a tip/activity or inspiration for each day of the month.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Begin with The Children

"I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, quality and freedom for their spirit. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, other-centered men can build up." ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

~~~

Peace is the world smiling.
Peace is a gentle dove.
Peace is sharing.
Peace is caring.
Peace is filling our world with love.

~~~

A Story for This Week

Explain to the children that no two snowflakes are alike, just as no two people are alike. A fun way to illustrate this story would be to use a white pipe cleaner as the ice needle and add five more as the story unfolds to create a ‘snowflake’. Nearby have a few other items for the different snowflakes it meets: various doilies, a coffee filter, a paper snowflake or two, etc. Make sure each snowflake is different from the other. As they fall to the ground lie them up along side of each other and place a few seeds underneath. When the snowflakes melt, slowly push them away to the side and add green ‘leaves’ cut from felt along side each seed. At the end of your story, place a flower on top of each – your flower can be cut from felt, a real flower top or an artificial flower top.

Snowflakes

Once there was a little raindrop that thought it had played long enough up in the clouds, and said it would go down to the earth and see what it could do. So it started.

While it was falling, it had to pass through a cloud that was very cold, and this funny little raindrop, instead of shrinking together as we do when we are cold, stretched out and stretched out, until it was not round any more, but was long, and thin, and hard like a needle; and that is just what it was, a little ice needle.

As it went on falling, it met another just like itself. The second said, "Little Ice Needle, where are you going?" "Down to the earth, to see what good I can do." "I'll go, too." So it joined the first needle, and they fell together.

Pretty soon they met a third, who said, "Little Ice Needles, where are you going?" "Down to the earth, to see what we can do." "Then I'll go, too." So it joined the others, and they fell together.

Then they met another, and another, and another, and another, who all joined them. Then there were six little ice needles falling together, and they had a new name; "Snowflake".

Little Snowflake met others who were also snowflakes but each and every one was different than the other. The snowflakes asked Little Snowflake where it was going. "Down to the earth, to see what good I can do." "We'll go, too. But where shall we go?" "I know," said one of the little flakes. "Last summer, when I was warm and round, I saw a place where a poor little sick boy had planted some seeds which a kind lady gave him. Let us fall on that place and keep it warm, so that the seeds in the ground may not freeze, and the little boy may have some flowers next summer." "Oh! so we will," said they all; and they fell faster and faster, so that they might get there sooner.

Other snowflakes saw them and went too, and the ground was covered more and more thickly with snow, till there was enough to keep the seeds from freezing during the winter.

When the weather began to be warm, the snow turned into water and ran down into the earth, and the seeds drank it, and swelled and swelled, until by and by, little leaves came out above the ground, from each seed. Then other leaves grew, and, when summer came, little Frank had his flowers again, and all because one little raindrop wanted to do some good in the world.


*More Ways to Celebrate Our Differences*

~Make Paper Snowflakes Together - Talk About How No Two Snowflakes Are The Same Just Like People Find the Differences Among Your Snowflakes and Family
~Take Fingerprints of Each Person in Your Family - Find the Similarities, Find the Differences Talk About How You All Come from the Same Family with the Same Genes, Even Though There are Many Difference in Your Prints

~Put Three Different Colored Apples on Your Table Have Children Note the Differences Between Color, Shape and Size Now Cut Each Apple Horizontally and Show the Children The Star On the Inside of Each Apple and Note How Deep Inside We Are All The Same

~Put Up Photos of Each Child and Their Families (if you are a school or childcare teacher) Keep These Photos at a Level the Children Can See - Talk About How All Families are Different but the Love they Share is the Same

~~~

Books to Share with Children This Week:


No Two Snowflakes ~ Sheree Fitch and Janet Wilson








Sophie: The One-of-a-Kind Snowflake ~ Mary Kilc







Whoever You Are ~Mem Fox




"If we are to reach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with the children." ~ Gandhi