Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Show Us Your Halloween Doorstep and Win a Free Ebook!

Happy Halloween!

Did you decorate your home for today's holiday? Show us a simple photo of your Halloween Doorstep and enter to win a FREE ebook of your choice from!
Here's how:

1. Take a photo of your Halloween Doorstep
2. Post it on Instagram
3. Mention Little Acorn Learning and tag two friends
4. Use hashtag #LittleAcornLearningHalloweenDoorstepContest 
(we know, it's a long one!)

Winners will be chosen and contacted directly!

Best of luck and have an amazing night with the children.  Maybe the Candy Fairy (aka Switch Witch) will come?

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A Visit from The Candy Fairy

When my children were little they were often more excited about the Candy Fairy then they were about trick or treating on Halloween night. Every Halloween night each girl left out a big bowl of candy for The Candy Fairy. Amazingly, she just so happened to always fly down our road after they went to bed... and, in appreciation she left some treasures in return.
The girls were always convinced that the more candy they left the better the surprise would be in the morning. Sometimes it was a fairy type of treasure like you see in these pictures and as they got a bit older it would often be a special toy, doll, art supplies or Lego set.

And, don't worry ... I wasn't a mean mom... each girl kept enough candy to enjoy a piece or two when they wanted a treat that week - just not a pillowcase full.

By the way, I heard the fairy visits houses any time after Halloween so you may want to see if she's heading to your neighborhood soon.


Make Your Own Weather Wheel

This sweet activity was requested by a few of our members and comes from our October Preschool/Kindergarten Ebook

If you make one, please share it with us. We have many ways for you to share with our community: Our Blog, Facebook Page, Discussion Group and by tagging us on Instagram!

Creating a Weather Chart or Weather Wheel
Supplies Needed:
Large Piece of Cardboard
Cardboard to Cut Out Arrows
Watercolor Pencils/Markers

This is a wonderful time of year to introduce a Weather Wheel or Weather Chart to your circle time. Children will delight in looking out the window each morning to determine what type of weather is in store for the day. You can create your Weather Chart with cardboard, watercolor pencils, moving arrows (by using a brad to attach), colorful circles in the center and a drawing of the Sun, Rain, Snow and Clouds. Get creative and allow your children to participate in the process. You may like to add two arrows for those days that the weather is more than one element. Hang your chart with raffia and a stick found on your nature walk that day and keep it on the wall where you do circle time each morning.  Be sure to use your chart as you do your morning blessing which signifies what the weather is each day.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Leaf Laminating in Autumn

This time of year in New England is a dream for those of us who love to do nature crafts with the children. 

 One really fun way to display the beauty of autumn is to collect pretty leaves and flowers you find on a nature walk and preserve them to hang in a window. 
I happen to have a heat laminator which makes this job much more easy. We simply lay out our nature display and put it through our laminator. It is so much fun to see it move through slowly and come out the other end like a piece of artwork.
Another wonderful option is to use wax paper and a hot iron.  Simply put your leaves between two pieces of wax paper, lay a cloth or towel over it and gently iron until they stick together. 

Can you identify the leaves we found? 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

5 Ways to Celebrate the Full Hunter's Moon Tonight!

The Full Hunter's Moon will arrive tonight and it's a magical time. It may seems silly to celebrate the full moon but what a lovely way to teach reverence and awe for our universe and the miracle of each day and night. Here are some fun ways to celebrate this October Hunter's Moon with your children:

1. Share Verses and Songs:

Moonlight Verse

When the moon is big and bright,
It makes the bedroom floor look white;
And outside where the tall trees grow,
It makes the ground look white as snow.

The Huntsman Circle Movement Song

The huntsman through the greenwood came,
His heart was bent on finding game;
He wandered here, he wandered there,
He wandered here, he wandered there,
A hunting, A hunting, A hunting through the greenwood fair.

His faithful hound was by his side,
They searched the greenwood far and wide;
The hound was keen,
The hunter fine,
The hound was keen
The hunter fine,
Together, together, A hunting through the long, bright night.

The Moon
The moon has a face like the clock in the hall;
She shines on thieves on the garden wall,
On streets and fields and harbour quays,
And birdies asleep in the forks of the trees.

The squalling cat and the squeaking mouse,
The howling dog by the door of the house,
The bat that lies in bed at noon,
All love to be out by the light of the moon.

But all of the things that belong to the day
Cuddle to sleep to be out of her way;
And flowers and children close their eyes
Till up in the morning the sun shall arise.
2. Take a Full Moon Hike

Take a full moon hike. Bundle up, bring flashlights and go on a walk in the moonlight. Be sure to take time to be still and look up at the moonlit sky. The Orionid meteor shower is still lingering from this past weekend and you may even catch a shooting star or two if you look closely! 

3. Make Crescent Moon Bread

4. Learn About the Moon Phases

Take time to teach your children about the different moon phases:

New Moon
Waxing Crescent
First Quarter
Waxing Gibbons
Full Moon 
Waning Gibbons
Last Quarter 
Waning Crescent

Think of fun ways to introduce this like:

5. Make a Moon Phase Mobile

We were lucky enough to have some old scrapbooking tools to help us cut our circles out of black cardstock as well as a fun star cutter but you can simply trace circles out, cut them out and use a white crayon to make the moon shapes.

We got a little creative and cut out the black circles that were left over to use as little "frames" and cut and glue on our center black punch out circles (with stars) to create the moon phase with empty space. 


Monday, October 22, 2018

October, November & December 2018 Caregiver's Calendar Bundle - ONLY $5

The December 2018 Caregiver's Calendar is ready... BUT we have a special treat for you! We've bundled up the October, November and December 2018 Caregiver's Calendars for ONLY $5 for ALL THREE! 

Finish out 2018 with all the important dates, festival celebrations, colors/grains for the day, full moon dates and a daily inspirational idea and suggestion for each day of the year inspired by Waldorf education. These calendars are a wonderful peek into Little Acorn Learning's ideas and philosophy and will help you create a more peaceful and mindful home or school!

So You Can't Afford a Waldorf School...

 (photos from my Kindergarten classroom where I used to teach at my local Waldorf school)

But what can you do? 

~ You can create a healthy rhythm to each day your children live within your home.

~ You can keep the television and radio off while you are living, loving and creating together.

~ You can choose a select few open-ended toys, a special doll and playthings made from natural materials... keeping electronic, battery operated toys and video games to a minimum - if at all.

~ You can sing and make up stories together.

~ You can do your schoolwork outside on the deck and incorporate artistic methods for practicing and learning.

~ You can focus on all you CAN provide and remember how very lucky you and your children already are.

~ You can remember that the study of Anthroposophy was never meant to be only for the rich... that anyone who longs and strives to know more about the layers of the Self and the Universe around them is welcome to seek and find their own truth REGARDLESS of the educational model they choose for their children. It is not a club. It is for all to enter...Welcome.

~ You can cherish your role as caregiver, homemaker and Your Child's Very First Teacher as a spiritual task and sacred work to be done and set a beautiful example for your children as you do so.

~ You can choose to live within this world on YOUR terms, protecting what you hold to be sacred and true for your family. It is OK to say NO to what seems the rest of the world is doing but feels wrong for you... in doing so, you set the stage for others to follow - and will soon see that there are many more parents like you than you originally thought and you will find your clan wherever you are.

~ You can take care of your own health, interests, desires and creative energies first and be whole and complete to be the amazing parent you long to be for your children.

~ You can accept the fact that we cannot create a perfect world or scenario for ourselves or our children as much as we try. This world is imperfect and so are we. BUT we can work with what we have to create a BEAUTIFUL and FULL existence while we are here. There is beauty in diversity, embrace the world for what it is.

~ You can celebrate the Festivals and Holidays with song, crafting, recipes and community... creating memories and traditions that your children will carry with them forever.

~ You can choose natural fibers when dressing your children and always remember the importance of warmth.

~ You can be an advocate for all children in your community, your school and home and speak up to help create the change you hope to see in our world.

~ You can slow down... pass on a few after school classes, keep your weekends open and pull out a bunch of board games or go on a hike instead.

~ You can teach your children to appreciate creativity... to use their hands even when not using them may be easier... to knit.. to sew... to cook from scratch.

~ You can keep a seasonal table in your home and encourage your children to add to it with the changing seasons and festivals.

~ You can approach learning, homework or study more holistically - practicing multiplication by using rhythm sticks or sharing fairy tales that incorporate spelling words.

~ You can encourage and inspire your children's teachers and board of education with articles, suggestions, example and ideas.

~ You can volunteer to teach your children's class how to knit.

~ You can host advent spirals, lantern walks and other celebrations for your community or school.

~ You can light a candle and say a sweet blessing at mealtimes.

~ You can have special afternoon for beeswax play, another for watercolor painting, another for baking and so on...

~ You can spend a good amount of your time outdoors with your children.

~ You can remember that the World is ultimately GOOD and seek to find the goodness in all you do and wherever you are. Look for the beauty. It is there. 

~ You can be proud to be a Waldorf Afterschooler or Waldorf Homeschooler.

~ Oh! And a shameless little plug... you CAN use our Afterschooling Enrichment Program or other Little Acorn Learning guides to supplement your child's education AND you can joint our Waldorf Afterschoolers Facebook Group for support!

Good luck on your journey - whatever it may be.

I'd love to add to this list - please feel free to do so in the comments section below...

With love.

Eileen is a former Waldorf Early Childhood teacher, work at home mother and the owner and publisher of Little Acorn Learning. The Little Acorn Learning guides have captured the hearts of caregivers and children all over the world. Based on seasonal themes and festivals, Little Acorn Learning inspires a love of nature and the home arts while supporting the caregiver's soul. Be sure to join the mailing list to receive special offers, FREE lessons, verses, songs, recipes and much more each month right in your inbox. And please follow Little Acorn Learning on Facebook and Instagram to continue to be inspired in your work with children. 

Natural Gift Giving for the Holidays

This is a repost of an article I wrote back in 2007 that has been published in various print magazines and online publications. The three little girls in the photo below are now 17, 14 and 12 but the message still stands true! You are free to share it, just please keep the byline with author information in-tact or link directly here. xoxo

Natural Gift Giving for the Holidays

Watching our child’s eyes light up with excitement during the holiday season is one of the many joys of parenthood. With our love, each year, many of us go to the ends of the earth, wait in long lines for hours and spend more than our budget permits in an attempt to create a magical experience for our children.

More often than not, we return from our shopping trip overwhelmed and over budget. And when the holiday arrives, we are understandably disappointed to see our carefully found treasures thrown into a pile of accumulated things while our children move on to open the next package.

Not long ago, the holiday season was a simple time of family traditions, gratitude, and gift-giving from the heart. The magic and beauty of the season did not come from how much one could receive but from how much one could give.

Decorating was beautiful and modest with candles and branches of evergreens draping the doorway. Family and friends would gather together, bringing along homemade treats and small gifts of appreciation.

Most gifts were made by hand and simple. Mothers would knit sweaters for their children and fathers would search local shops for the perfect gift. Children would receive much less but appreciate much more. A new set of blocks, a special doll, or a set of books would be cherished for years to come.

Toys were natural and open-ended, leaving room for hours of imagination and free play. They did not blink, flash, need batteries, or keep children indoors for most of their day.

How, in a world that is much different now, do we recapture the truth and surround our children with warmth, simplicity, and peace this holiday season?

The Benefit of Natural Toys

Toys of today are much different than the basic and sturdy toys of our past. In addition to the more recent concerns of lead paint on some foreign-made toys, some of the components that are added to products made with PVC plastics have been linked to cancer and other serious ailments. “A recent Greenpeace study revealed that PVC softeners known as phthalates have been found to cause liver and kidney damage and disrupt hormonal systems in children (see "Teething Toxins," In Brief, March/April 1998). In response, several European nations have banned PVC toys altogether. U.S. toy distributors are still debating the issue.”

With the very safety of our children’s playthings in question, many parents are choosing to buy natural toys and products for children this year. But safety is not the only benefit of items made from natural materials such as wood, cotton, silk, or wool.

Children, like sponges, absorb their environment and the world around them. The quality and essence of the things that we surround our children with can have a direct effect on their behavior, health, and ability to learn. Holding something beautiful that is made from the earth has tremendous positive psychological effects on human beings.

In fact, natural materials teach children correctly about the world around them. When a child picks up a rock that is made of plastic, it feels light and weightless. In nature, rocks are heavy and solid.

Toys that do not require batteries invite open-ended play. This type of play sparks children’s creativity and requires them to finish the story on their own. Many electronic toys have a predetermined ending – leaving little room for imagination causing the child to lose interest quickly.

More often than not, loud toys over-stimulate young children. Blinking lights, loud sounds, and so much going on muffles the child’s ability to hear his or her imagination speak. We must quiet the noise in order to allow our children to listen to the true magic that is within.

Equally important is the fact that natural toys are better for the environment. Plastic can sit in landfills for hundreds of years and is not biodegradable.

If you have a skill such as sewing, knitting, or woodworking, consider making your child something special this year. Not only does this send a message of love, but it also teaches patience. The time spent on creating something from hand is a wonderful way to show your children the benefit of working toward a goal.

If you are not particularly crafty, there are plenty of retailers that sell natural toys online. Before purchasing, be sure to ask the retailer where the toys are manufactured and what materials are used during production.

Quality over Quantity

Let us keep in mind that it is not only the quality of the gifts we give this year but also the quantity. How much is really enough?

Before holiday shopping, take a good look around your home. How loved are your child’s belongings? Gifts lose their value when children are surrounded by so many things. It is unfair of us to expect a child to cherish a new toy when they are surrounded by so many of them.

When deciding to purchase an item for your child, be selective and ask yourself the following questions: What purpose will the toy have? Does your child already have this type of item? Does it engage all five senses and encourage imagination? It is much better to offer fewer, higher quality toys that your child will get more use out of than an abundance of toys that will go unappreciated.

This is a wonderful opportunity for parents to teach children the lesson of giving this holiday season. This year, many children around the world won’t even have a holiday meal, let alone presents. Talk to your child about this and then spend a day sorting through items that are no longer cherished or age-appropriate to donate to others. If the charity only accepts new toys, considering selling your items and donating the money earned to a worthy cause.

Simplify and Reduce Stress

Much as young children take in the aesthetics of their environment, they also absorb the feelings and emotions of their caregivers. We must be mindful of the message we are sending to them during the holidays and throughout the year. Here are a few ideas on how to limit stress and create a more peaceful celebration for yourself and your children: 

~ Try to limit the number of commitments you make. When possible, combine functions to avoid excessive travel or entertaining. Consider scheduling some events for after the holidays so you can relax and truly enjoy the company of your family and friends. 

~Create beautiful traditions with your children. String popcorn, make ornaments, or go caroling. Allow even the youngest child to assist with preparing the holiday meal, setting the table, or baking cookies.

~Demonstrate kindness. Visit a nursing home, adopt a needy family, or write letters to those who may be alone this holiday season. Children can add so much to the lives of others who have so little.

~Consider shopping online for many of your gifts this year. This is a wonderful way to save gas and reduce your stress by avoiding busy stores and shopping malls.

Above all, let us remember that true happiness cannot be wrapped and placed under a tree. When we teach our children this, we have already given them the greatest gift.

Eileen is a former Waldorf Early Childhood teacher, work at home mother and the owner and publisher of Little Acorn Learning. The Little Acorn Learning guides have captured the hearts of caregivers and children all over the world. Based on seasonal themes and festivals, Little Acorn Learning inspires a love of nature and the home arts while supporting the caregiver's soul. Be sure to join the mailing list to receive special offers, FREE lessons, verses, songs, recipes and much more each month right in your inbox. And please follow Little Acorn Learning on Facebook and Instagram to continue to be inspired in your work with children. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Truthful Tuesday: Are You Waldorf Enough?

It  has take almost a lifetime but I have finally learned to protect my space, my energy and not tolerate being abused, taken for granted or mistreated by people in my life. When someone finally gets to this place of self-love, they begin to have to make some very difficult decisions and it's damn hard.

The wonderful thing is that when you approach this difficult crossroads in life and keep moving along your new path, often others who are on the same journey show up along your way. This is no coincidence. These people may have also had to make difficult decisions about a relationship with a parent, a spouse, a coworker or a friend that also kept them on the hamster wheel of emotional chaos which brought sadness or pain into their life and it was time to move on. 

Yesterday I was called horrible names by one of these people that I have chosen not to allow in my life the same way anymore. I've tried very hard to keep things neutral with this person because I have to continue to work with them... but the verbal and emotional abuse just never ends... and they seem to do whatever they can to hurt me or find things that I hold dear to attack to try to cause me pain. The thing is that THEY are the one who is in pain, not me. And it makes them feel better about themselves to attack the things that I hold most dear like being a mother, my work with Little Acorn Learning and the type of person they know I am.

After the first group of horrible names, one last comment was "If all your Waldorf people really knew you.."

Hmmm.  Well.. I think you do know me and I think I keep it very real... but just in case...for today's Truthful Tuesday, my sweet "Waldorf people" ... I'm making sure it is VERY clear to you who I am:

I am a mother of four daughters and I have placed them at the center of my world from the moment they entered it and will continue to do so for the rest of my life.

I have cared for other people's children for most of my adult life and treat each and every one of them with kindness, love and patience as I would my own.

I am a woman who is good, kind and gentle and loves children and animals and strives to make a difference in this world with the work that I do.

I am strong and fierce and I won't take your bullshit if you bring it. So be sure you are ready if you do. Don't underestimate my kindness for weakness.

I am an amazing partner and friend and cherish my relationships when I am cared for and treated with love, honesty, kept promises and respect in return.

I am a writer, an artist, a free spirit and a very spiritual person.

I am imperfect. 

And in response to the Waldorf reference:

Yes, my children have watched tv, played video games and done many non-"Waldorf" things. I've always admitted that...they use computers and listen to music. When it becomes out of balance, we adjust things and always strive to do better. All things in moderation with teenagers. Here are two of my girls helping each other with homework and laughing and joking together last night:
But, my children also have explored every inch of my backyards, attended my nature clubs, learned to knit, crochet, paint, create, gone on adventures, hikes, cuddled with me, made up silly songs, cooked with me, cried with me and most importantly, my dear haters... My children know they are safe to be themselves with me, share with me and talk to me because I ALWAYS give them my time, my energy and truly listen without judgment, guilt or yelling. While I am very imperfect, I am also very invested... and I've given this parenting thing my absolute all. 

Here are some photos of that:

You see.. I am enough. I feel really good about the parent I've been and continue to be. I wish for you the same along with good intentions in all you do. And, following a philosophy or ideal does not mean we are not human or flawless. That's not what it is about... and that's why you are so lost right now and lashing out at others. It is not a competition or a checkoff list. Living an authentic and good life is a process, something you keep striving toward and keep doing. 

Intention is what matters. And, I have really good ones. Please check yours.

It's very uncomfortable to know that there are a handful of people that follow me and Little Acorn Learning, not because it is enriching their life or they support the work that I'm doing but because they are angry or jealous or trying to find information about my family's life... It has almost caused me to stop blogging and to stop writing because it is just so creepy but I refuse to let anybody take away my joy and my passion and something that brings other people happiness as well. 

Oh and I'd love to see their laundry rooms!  At least I'm brave enough to be "real".

So, for all of you that sometimes feel like you're not good enough or "Waldorf enough" or authentic or true or whatever enough it may be.. this Truthful Tuesday is for you.  

You are enough. I see you. 
Keep striving and I will too.

See you over on my Instagram Story today where you can go on a short virtual hike along with me.