Our Morning Glory Kindergarten class shares a beautiful blessing before each meal. Here's how it goes:
In front of our heart.
Earth who gives to us this food,
Sun who makes it ripe and good.
Sun above and Earth below,
Our love and thanks to you we show.
Blessings on our meal,
Our family, our friends,
And far away
This week we begin a new series on the blog called "A Window In." They say that a photograph is worth a thousand words, and these images are just that. A window into a day of vibrant learning, happening at our sweet little school inspired by Waldorf Education.
We see color, movement, exploration, collaboration, play, building and growing. We see our younger children learning from our older children during a woodworking class and our Sunflower Nursery children learning to garden. From dress ups to a circle time where a tale of the three bears is told, here is a look into Bayou Village School from this past week.
Tonight families of Bayou Village School and their children will gather on the playground for our Advent Spiral. An inwardly spiraling path of evergreens will be laid out. The center will hold a lit candle. Each child will walk the spiral slowly, reverently. Upon arriving at the center, she will light her candle. The child then goes back, placing her light carefully somewhere along the path. Once every child has gone, the entire spiral will be lit with candles!
The gift of light we thankfully take
But not shall it be alone for our sake
The more we give light
The one to the other
It shines and it spreads and it glows still further
Until every spark by friends set aflame
Until every heart with joy to proclaim
In the depths of our souls a shining sun glows.
In the classroom, we are celebrating Advent by honoring each kingdom of nature. Last week, the classes attention was directed towards the mineral kingdom. This week, our focus will be on plants. In the third week, appreciation will be given to the animal kingdom. The fourth week will culminate with respect for the human being.
During each week leading up to Christmas, the children will craft special items related to the kingdom being honored. This week, we are making felted stones and will begin sewing little gnomes and pouches as well.
Read below to learn more about Advent and what is in store for tonight's Advent Spiral.
Re-published from the Austin Waldorf School website :
Advent is a time for quiet contemplation for what is to come during the winter festival, the revelation of a deep mystery. Advent, from the Latin "to come," is the period including the four Sundays just before Christmas. In the tradition of the Christian Churches, one candle is lit each Sunday until the light of four candles heralds the birth of Christ. Yet Advent and even the feast day we now celebrate as Christmas have a far wider traditional context. For thousands of years before Christianity, the Egyptians celebrated the Festival of Osiris, the Celts and Druids held great festivals of fire and light, and the Jewish people celebrated Hanukkah. This holiday has had festival connotations of light and the sun, of the time when winter draws to its close and spring begins. Nearly all cultures have acknowledged the mystery of this moment. At the time of the winter festival, we can recognize that we too will ultimately triumph over the darkness in our lives. The celebration of Advent can honor and revere the kingdoms of nature. In the first week attention may be directed to the mineral kingdom. In the second week respect may be focused on the plants. In the third week appreciation may be given to the animal kingdom. Respect for the human being is then the culmination of the fourth week.
The Advent Spiral, a kindergarten and lower grades festival, is one of light, movement, and symbolic change. A spiral of greens or ribbons of cloth is laid out on the floor and decorated with crystals, shells, plants, and carved animals representing the kingdoms of nature. Each child walks to the center, carrying an unlit candle, which is lighted from the tall brightly-burning candle there. Moving outward, the child places the candle somewhere along the spiral pathway, bringing it to light. This passage reflects winter's dark growing to a close and the renewed promise that spring light and life will begin again.
The Advent Spiral is also perhaps the most deeply moving community festival of the year. As part of the Adult Education program, opportunity is provided for adults to walk the spiral and experience its beautiful and powerful symbolism. Children are also welcome if they can honor the mood of quiet contemplation.
Last week in the spirit of Thanksgiving and all its autumn-vegetable and pumpkin-spice-flavored love, our Sweet Peas Kindergarten Class built a fire and roasted their own sweet potatoes on it. The children loved gathering kindling and watching the fire as it grew large enough to roast their potatoes. Sweet potatoes were enjoyed by both the Sweet Peas Kindergarten and Sunflower Garden Nursery classes. It was an exciting morning!
The following day they took a fresh pumpkin which had been the centerpiece of their nature table and peeled it, cooked it and turned it into a delicious pumpkin pie. They did not use the grain free crust but otherwise followed this recipe below from Wellness Mama. To top it off the children whipped cream and then added in a tiny amount of maple syrup with a hint of vanilla. Delicious!
In time for Thanksgiving, gather your children into the kitchen to make this wonderful recipe below. We are thankful to all of those who make Bayou Village School a unique and magical place to send our children to school each day. Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Grain Free Pumpkin Pie
Author: Wellness Mama
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Our classrooms at Bayou Village School are filled with beautiful toys built from natural materials. You will find play silks, dolls created from real sheep's wool, simple wooden blocks that become countless villages, road ways, etc, pure beeswax to model with and numerous other examples of simple objects and materials that children play with to develop their imaginations. Below we share an article from Waldorf in the Home, a website that features informative articles and "resources for nourishing family life."
Please read the article below and bring your thoughts to our next Early Childhood Parent Education Class on December 1st at 8:30am in the Sweet Peas Kindergarten classroom.
Toys and Play
When we are creating a work space - an office, a classroom, a retail establishment - there are certain tools we need for specific tasks. We wouldn't normally think of using a hammer to screw a socket into the wall or a screwdriver to drive a nail into a cabinet. We try to find the tool that best serves the need for the task at hand. If we consider toys to be tools of early childhood, we need to give some thought to what types of toys best serve the child through the various stages of development.
The most appropriate toys in the early years are simple and open-ended. The best toys are "90% child and 10% toy." It is worth making the effort to find toys that will invoke the child's natural creativity, imagination and healthy development. Toys made from natural materials, such as wood, rubber, wool, cotton, silk, and metal, provide varied sensory experiences and are almost always non-toxic. Think of the "toy" that has most stood the test of time - the sandbox. It is hard to get more open-ended and natural than that! Watching young children at a public park, I am always struck by how fascinated they are with the stones and pebbles used in the walkways. The natural world readily provides numerous "playthings" for little ones.
Of course, another thing we consider when choosing toys is the age of the child. While birth through eight are considered the years of early childhood, we do not expect a six-month-old to be able to build a block tower. The following is an outline of the phases of early childhood and a consideration of the qualities most needed in toys.
In infancy, the most available and most interesting "toys" are the child's own extremities. Left to her own devices, a small baby will discover her fingers and toes and spend time talking to them and chewing on them. One might place one or two simple toys, like a wooden rattle, cotton handkerchief or small bowl, on either side of an infant so she can "discover" them as she reaches out. This encourages large motor development and often is the catalyst for learning how to roll over. This also helps to develop muscle coordination and strength. Self-initiated activity is better for the baby than contrived entertainment systems. Infants do not need infant gyms, mobiles, or other fancy gadgets as long as there are people around for them to observe. "....[S]hort of being raised in isolation, a baby will encounter enough stimulation in most households to do the trick - anything from banging pots and pans together to speaking to a sibling. The key phrase here is 'properly stimulated,' which is not the same as expensively stimulated or the worse fate, over stimulated" (Rosenberg and Reibstein, Newsweek, Spring/Summer 1997).
Crawlers and Creepers to Early Toddlers
As infants become mobile, they are interested in everything in their surroundings. Anything has the potential to be a "toy". This is the time when safety becomes an issue. Things that were able to be on a lower shelf now get moved up, for instance.
This is a good time to introduce toys that move - the rocking horse, the pushcart, soft knitted or wool balls, for example. Toddlers also love things that can stack or fit inside each other, or things that have lids. Of course, toddlers are quite interested in the activities of older children and will even begin to imitate some of their creative play activities like pretending to have a tea party. Outside, the sandbox becomes an important place, and water play is welcomed. They also can spend an amazing amount of time "playing" with a knothole in a tree or a fallen pinecone if they are not interrupted. They are like little scientists, really "studying" the form and detail of things. Too many objects can be distracting and can keep them from discovering a variety of ways to play with just a few things.
Toddlerhood to Three
In late toddlerhood to around three is the beginning of exploring what it is to play "with" other children. There is a tendency toward what is commonly called "side-by-side" play. Children are aware of being with another child, but they are still living mostly in their own space. It is not a time of easy sharing. Imagine how a scientist would feel if she were intently studying something under the microscope and someone just took it away all of a sudden. It is a bit shocking and, in the case of children, often leads to tears. This is a natural part of growing up, however, and the caregiver uses discretion in helping to determine what the best solution is for the given incident. It is not necessary to have an overabundance of each thing in order to avoid conflict. Rather, such times are valuable learning experiences that often lead to surprising solutions.
Toys at this time include "home environments" such as little kitchen sets, dishes, tables and chairs that can be moved around to create "houses," large cloths and dress-up clothes, large wooden puzzles that have beautiful pictures underneath single pieces, a few shaped animals and some simple musical instruments such as clappers or pentatonic chimes. The child is learning "thingness" and naming the objects, so it is important to provide toys that are identifiable yet beautiful.
As the child moves into pre-school age, many of these same toys are still applicable and needed, but play starts to become a bit more cooperative. Children begin to create story themes to accompany their imaginative play, so they spend part of their time gathering props. Depending upon how media-influenced the child has been, their props can be very creative. The media-saturated child tends to think things have to be a certain way (as advertised on TV or in a movie).
Children who are still free in their imaginations can turn a piece of wood into a telephone or loaf of bread. At this time, it is helpful to provide a variety of natural objects mixed with a few formed objects. For example, one would still provide toy dishes, but the child may decide that a piece of coconut shell is also a bowl or cup or that pine cones are the food being served. In other words, their toys no longer need to be as "formed" or "real" as those of the toddler, who is so busy identifying "things" for what they really are.
Five- and Six-Year-Olds
Around five, the child begins to move more and more into creative imagination. Children still spend time plotting their themes, but that in itself can be fulfilling, and they may never get around to gathering many props. However, they still need potential props, especially those that will strengthen their large muscle development. Now they may want to have heavy play stands or furniture to move around to create roofs and walls for their environments. Outside it is a good time for fort building and other large motor activities. At the same time, we want to foster healthy fine motor development, so things like sewing baskets, yarn work and real tools become more important. Projects that extend over periods of time are desirable. This is especially important in our current fast-paced culture. The greatest gift we can give our children is the gift of time to really penetrate their play.
At a time when toy manufacturers tell us our children need more and more, this is actually a time when they are happy to create with less if we let them and offer encouragement. Playing store with empty boxes and colorful beads, working on projects, spending lots of time in nature and having ample large muscle activity by climbing, hauling things in wagons and using riding toys provides a full life of play. It is also a time when children enjoy creating small environments like the dollhouse or towers for their cars or decorated shoe boxes for their toy animals, etc.
The doll continues to play an intimate roll in people's lives, from infancy to grown up. For grown ups it is usually in the vein of a collector's item rather than as a play object. For the child it is wonderful if the doll can become more of a "beloved," rather than a part of a "collection." Materialism encroaches upon us soon enough without encouraging our young children to become consumers through collections. When this happens the doll, or whatever comprises the collection, loses that special intimate quality that calls forth nurturing from the child.
The infant's doll is best represented by a simple knot doll that the child can chew on. Such dolls can be made from cotton flannel with a tied off head and hands that have been stuffed with wool.
As the child grows older, natural fiber dolls that have limbs and hair can be dressed, wrapped in blankets and loved. While the children may have them in various states of dress or undress throughout the day, it sets a good example to wrap them in blankets and tuck them away at the end of the day so the child can see us modeling how one cares for them. The doll is the only toy that actually represents a person, and it is important for the children to learn a particular kind of respectfulness for their care.
By providing the right toys for children at different ages, parents can provide them with the tools they need for creative play, which is truly "the work of early childhood."
Welcome to Bayou Village School's Blog! We wanted to kick off our blog with a post about healthy lunches and healthy eating. It's always great to get new ideas about what we can send our children off to school with.
At the forefront of Waldorf Education and here at Bayou Village School is our focus on health and nutrition. It comprises so much of our behavior and how we feel. The children in some of the classes prepare their snacks each day and we ask that foods sent from home are minimally processed. One of the biggest testaments to our community and its love of whole, nutritious food is seen during our community potlucks held on celebration days. There you see organic salads, quinoa dishes, beautiful homemade breads and delicious herbal teas made by families from our school.
Our Kindergarten teacher Ms. Tina recently sent an email with a few healthy school lunch options for inspiration. We thought we'd share them here, along with a sweet rhyme the children are learning!
When packing your child’s lunch, send a variety of foods but not too much. Children enjoy variety, but get overwhelmed if there are too many choices.
Main course item
- small bean and cheese burrito
- chicken and cheese sandwich
- almond butter sandwich with fruit spread or honey
- slices of cheese and salami with crackers
- leftover spaghetti/pasta salad
- hummus and pita bread
- hard boiled egg
- tuna salad with crackers or celery sticks
- carrot sticks
- cherry tomatoes
- sliced cucumber
- celery sticks
- sugar snap peas
- apple slices
- melon balls
- orange slices
- pineapple wedges
- dried apricots
Miscellaneous treat - put in sparingly
- fruit sweetened yogurt
- trail mix
- fruit leather
The following finger puppet story was a favorite this past week:
One little apple hanging on a tree,
It fell down and bumped my knee!
Another little apple as rosy as a rose,
It fell down and bumped my nose!
Another little apple, ripe and sweet,
It fell down and bumped my feet! I
t rolled and rolled nearly to my house,
Where it was spotted by a tiny little mouse.
“This yummy apple will make a fine meal,”
And he munch munch munched it, even the peel.
Finger puppets are wonderful for children and nimble fingers are indicators of clear speech. Finger movements are centered in the same part of the brain as speech. What a lovely support of early literacy and language development!
Happy healthy lunch packing and thanks Ms.Tina!
This is Bayou Village School's space to share stories, happenings, recipes, ideas, and garden and festival life, associated with our magical school.