It's harvest time!!! The bounty at our local farms is bringing us so much joy! We are so lucky to have a little "Potager" (as they call them here in Quebec, Canada) that is about a ten minute drive from our home and that we have been visiting weekly. The harvest came in slowly but surely starting with strawberries and asparagus, next cucumbers and deep purple onions, on to plump tomatoes and ruby red potatoes, and now we are beginning to see the squash and, of course, the corn abounds!
If you are an Artsy Starter you have probably already been busy exploring veggies in art with us this fall semester! In particular my Little Artist loves the work of Arcimboldo during this season. Grab a seat with your little one and take a peek at this Smithsonian video of Arcimboldo's work:
Got a taste for vegetables? Well, here's a little bonus vegetable activity that is both easy and delicious. Veggie stamping!
Building a thriving terrarium that lasts requires a bit of soil skill (layering rocks, sand, and earth to ensure proper drainage and aeration of the dirt). In this house, "ain't nobody got time for that" so, instead, we decided to make a temporary terrarium that we will return to its natural environment after my Little Observers have finished their exploration of this miniature world in a jar! Would you like to make a "Temporary Terrarium" with us? Get out your magnifying glasses and come along with us!
1. Find a shady spot in your yard or the woods after a few days of rain. No doubt you will find many little plants that were not there before! We found some lichen, a mushroom and moss hiding under our pine tree.
2. Place a small layer of moist soil into the base of a mason jar.
3. Carefully pull up the items you want to place in your Temporary Terrarium. Do your best to keep some of the soil surrounding the items. Gently press the items into the mason jar to rest on top of the soil.
4. Explore the contents of the terrarium with a magnifying glass. Take time to make close up drawings of what you observe in your nature journal!
5. Occasionally spray the contents with a mister and return all items gently to their original location within a couple of weeks.
And that's all folks! STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) study at its easiest - just by getting out into nature!
Many of my friends who are lovers of Waldorf education own a seasonal series by Gerda Muller that is most enchanting. It depicts a family enjoying the seasons in a series of wordless and timelessly illustrated little board books. They are truly special little books.
But I wanted to share with you another, slightly less well known, series of board books that celebrate the seasons: Eugenie Fernandez' Kitten series. Her incredible mixed media style is just exquisite. Natural elements are incorporated into each scene and we love searching for the kitten as we read .... Now, hold up, hold up... "Board books? Isn't my preschooler too old for board books?" If this thought came to mind you're in good company. It's crossed my mind too and I have even separated most of our board books out of the main collection intended for the exclusive use of my toddler. However, I'm rethinking this because every once in a while my preschooler will plunk herself down in front of a pile of board books and have a good old read. Why?
Here's my hypothesis:
Having been read hundreds of times, there's a familiarity about board books which suits the needs of Little Readers. Having memorized most of the text of these books, my preschooler is actually reading the words correctly without having even learned to recognize all of the letters of the alphabet yet. "Yes, yes. But that's not real reading," you might say. And I'm here to tell you: Oh yes. Yes it is. It's reading alright. Your little one doesn't have to know how to sound out letters and string together phrases to be reading. Just by repeating memorized words, by letting the images suggest stories to her, by taking delight in the old battered pages, by cuddling up on your lap, by doing all the voices, your little one is starting to become literate and is developing a life-long love of reading.
I'm passionate about classical music and it's this passion that I hope to share with my Little Musicians. Even if they end up not being huge classical music fans they will know what it is to feel a strong, maybe even unearthly, connection with music.
I will admit it. I was a serious romantic on my recent honeymoon to Germany. Of course, one is expected to be romantic on a honeymoon but I mean romantic in the lake poets kind of way. I loved the sublime scenery of castles in the alps and I was entirely overcome with emotion (the hairs on my arms actually stood upright) when we visited the room where Wagner played for King Ludwig II.
I guess I didn't actually expect Wagner's ghost to walk in and start playing his old piano but the silence seemed discordant and I expected to hear notes from "Fantasie" at any moment fill the room. My guy seemed to have only a kind of grudging appreciation of the magnitude of what we were experiencing. He was bemused by my sense of wonder at being in this space. This space where the king would have listened to Wagner composing new works and banging out pieces. Did the king dance half naked around the dressing room? Did he gaze out the window and imagine building another fairy tale castle in the distant hills (the soon to be constructed Neuschwanstein)? Did he whisper sweet nothings into Wagner's ear?
It was all I could do not to shake the other visitors who were striding around the room looking at all the wrong gilded and glitzy things and completely ignoring the piano keys that once rang out with the music of a most incredible composer. Do you hear it? Listen...
If and when they travel to new places, I hope my Little Musicians will take moments to appreciate the musical culture that wordlessly tells so much about the people who live there. I hope they will listen for music in spaces that are now herding through tourists but that were once filled with song, life and ... yes... even a little bit of romance.