Monday, January 8, 2018

A Give Away

Announcing.... a give away!

Each month I provide an eCourse for members of Celebrate the Rhythm of Life in Caring for Children through the Year. This month's eCourse is called The Temperaments, it's an exploration of the temperaments. This is a wonderful way to bring depth and breadth to your understanding of Waldorf in the home, Waldorf homeschooling, Waldorf education. Teachers and childcare providers will find a deepening of relationship with parents. Parents can understand each other better with a working knowledge of the temperaments. And of course, the children can be better seen through the lens of the temperaments.

We'll cover:
What are the temperaments?
How do you tell them apart?
How do they interact?
How does you temperament shape your day, how you plan, how you parent?
How can you work with the temperaments?
What insight do they provide?
How are they used in Waldorf education?

We'll be exploring these questions and more. You can read more about the class here.

Registration is $25 (free for the Give Away winner!) to keep it accessible to all. Please help spread the word by sharing the link to this page. This helps me keep the registration fee low and develop new classes for YOU!

I hope you'll join me and plunge into a study of the temperaments.

I am giving away ONE spot in the class.

The winner will be announced on Wednesday at noon.

Good Luck to all who enter!

To enter leave a question you have about the temperaments in the comments below.

If you're contact information is not in the comments be sure and check back on Wednesday to see if you are the winner!

There's another Give Away over on the Facebook page. Be sure to enter there too!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Storytelling with Young Children :: Waldorf Style

~ this is a piece I wrote for Rhythm of the Home in the Winter of 2010. As Rhythm of the Home is no more,  I am sharing this article here on my blog. This is exactly how it appeared on Rhythm of the Home. The text and photographs are my own, with the exception of the intro paragraph written by Heather Spedden Fontenot.
Storytelling fosters imagination and creativity like little else can, and it is a very important aspect of Waldorf education that transports children into magical worlds and far away places. Storytelling can often be daunting for parents and teachers alike, so today we sit down with Lisa Boisvert Mackenzie to hear her thoughts on the art of the story, and the many ways we can bring it into our daily lives. ~ Heather Spedden Fontenot
Storytelling is life. Waldorf education is a live education, it takes place between human beings, this is why one does not see textbooks, CD players or videos in Waldorf classrooms. Storytelling brings pictures to children of life, of what it means to be human, of how we can serve one another.
Imagination is about making pictures in our minds, learning through pictures, through imitation of the pictures, of the gestures, of the movements brought through the storyteller and the stories that are told. When a child sees a pre-formed picture of a story in a book or on a screen, the image is made; there is no room for the child’s imagination to create the picture.
Storytelling provides a strong foundation for literacy. Literacy begins with the experience of being with another human being who speaks to the child. Very young children watch our mouths as we form words. Stories told by humans rich with language, rhythm, and repetition spark a love of language and a lasting literacy.
Storytelling conveys rich language, full sentences and an extensive vocabulary to children.
Human connection is strengthened through storytelling particularly when we tell stories of our own childhood or that of the child’s grandparents.

Right now approaching Saint Nicholas Day, I am telling stories of Saint Nicholas from Christine Natale of the life of Saint Nicholas. Favorite family chapter books are Mary’s Little Donkey, The Elves and the Shoemaker, The Gingerbread Boy.
After the snow has fallen and the ice on the lake is frozen, and the north wind blows hard and cold and dry, I like to tell the story of the little brown duck, Shingebiss. It is said to be an old Chippewa tale.
Upon lighting the Advent candle, we recite this verse:
Winter is dark
Yet each tiny spark
Brightens the way
To Christmas Day
Shine little light
And show us the way
To the great light of Christmas Day
A Chubby Little Snowman
Here’s a little verse that is lovely done with finger puppets; one for the snowman, one for the bunny. A silk over the hands makes it even better. It can be done as a finger play as well and acted out by the children.
A chubby little snowman
Had a carrot nose
Along came a bunny
And what do you suppose?
That hungry little bunny was looking for some lunch
He saw that snowman’s carrot nose
And went nibble, nibble, crunch!
That chubby little bunny hopped into the woods.
He wiggled his ears as a good bunny should.
He hopped by a squirrel, he hopped by a tree.
He hopped by a bird and he hopped by me.
He stared at the squirrel. He stared at the tree.
He stared at the bird and he made faces at me.
Be sure to put your thumbs to your ear lobes and encourage some fun face-making with this one.

I spend much of my time with children who span the ages of two to fifteen years of age.
With the youngest children, in the Morning Garden, I tell simple nature stories about Mama and Papa Redbird and Squirrel Nutkin, creatures who live in the garden and trees, and whose antics we observe daily.
I often tell a story of a small child while creating the puppet from a silk square, with a rolled ball of wool roving for the head, and then I tie it at the wrists. The child awakens, goes outside for a walk, encounters the animals in the yard, says good morning, rambles about, returns home for lunch and a nap.
In autumn, we have so many wonderful stories to tell. I like to weave in many of the nature tales from Suzanne Down’s Autumn Tales and expand upon them with figures and activities that connect to the stories. Pumpkins, apples and squash grace our seasonal table at this time of year and sometimes an acorn child peeps out from the “garden.”
Something very special I have done with my own children is to reverse their names and create a royal character who has daily adventures. We have two brothers, Prince Sugna and Prince Nacnud. Their parents are kind and gentle rulers of a large kingdom. They have adventures in the kingdom with their dog and cats and always return at the end of the afternoon to the royal kitchen for a cup of tea and a cookie.
I also tell stories in the car, at bedtime, in the afternoon, with seasonal puppet shows and finger puppets.
Often we begin before birth, in talking to the child that is to come. I had a name for my youngest for two years before he was conceived. I knew he was coming. I felt his presence and spoke to him. With my oldest, I gave him a womb name and spoke to him and wrote to him. His dad told stories to my belly.
Sometimes women will hum or sing spontaneously in labor. This is instinctive, the mother’s voice and movement is the story, the beginning of the story telling.
To begin storytelling with a toddler, tell a little story of daily life, focus on the description of the doing, the movement, use rhythm and repetition in speech, the rabbit went hippity hop, hippety hop, the wings fluttered, the boy climbed and climbed, use movement and repetition. Children love to hear the same stories over and over again.
Sometimes yes, with a little puppet story, I use props, puppets, silk, bits of logs, maybe stones or seashells. I use wool roving to create very simple puppets: butterflies, rabbits, an owl. I use very simple felt finger puppets of animals as well as standing puppets and marionettes for more elaborate stories.
You can make little felt finger puppets for the children. Especially loved seemed to be bees and baby chicks. Puppets and simple figures create archetypal images for the child to live into, they enliven the world of the child, a silk becomes a landscape, a pinecone becomes a tree

It begins before birth when the children come to us with a story, their story. We are part of their story as much as they are part of our story. Our task is to let it unfold, unhindered, and remove obstacles, for them and for us.
Children are full of stories from the first little sing-song chatter to themselves while they play to the more formed performances they might produce. The fewer images they see in books and screen, the more room in their mind to image-make of their own imagination.

Yes, it echoes the elements of nature and the cosmos. What is happening outside? The days are darkening now, the trees are bare, the squirrels are busy hiding nuts and we are looking within to find our own little lights. The stories reflect the rhythm of nature. In the warm weather, I often tell stories outside.

Finger play helps the children use and enliven their fingers. Young children are in a process of embodiment, of coming into their bodies. Finger and toe play helps them move into those far reaches of their body. Nowadays machines do so much work that was once done by hand. Children have fewer opportunities to use their fingers; finger play is a fun way to foster healthy development of the hands as is tiptoeing and stomping for the feet.
A fun game for the toes is for the child to pick up marbles with his toes and drop them into a basket or basin. The child might pick marbles up from a basin of lavender water and drop them into another basin with her toes. Use a scarf in the same way. Rudolf Steiner also recommended that children write with toes of their dominant foot when learning to write, that it supports the development of handwriting.
When I lived on remote islands in the South Pacific, I noticed that the local people were so adept with the use of their hands and toes, in weaving, in climbing, in cutting, in preparing food and creating mats and roof tops. It is remarkable how little we develop the hand and feet.

Observe the natural world. Look at birds, squirrels, cows, how do they move? Look at their gesture, how does a rabbit hop? Observe what is happening outdoors. Set up a bird feeder and create a cozy perch from which to watch. Make some simple animal puppets from felt. Bring those gestures with consciousness to the finger play and hand gestures.
Use a little rhyme, make it up.
Fingerplays can ease transitions, during car trips and in the grocery store line. Rhythmic verse and repetition is reassuring for children and build neural pathways in the brain. Most of all, it’s to relax, have fun, be playful.

A story can present archetypes to children that open the doors of possibility, that kindle the imagination, that stir the child to action. Storytelling can be healing, can soothe hurt feelings, mend conflicts and inspire a child to good behavior. Stories can be assuring that the world is good, and that in the end, goodness triumphs over evil.
A child who has an adult that tells her stories and plays lap games and sings songs is blessed with a connection to a human being and to generations of human beings who once transmitted all stories through human communication. Storytelling fosters human connection, connection to the natural world and even to the cosmos. It fosters the healthy development of a human being.

Lisa  is a Waldorf Early Childhood Educator, Mom to two boys, homeschooling one of them with Waldorf education. She has had a child of her own in early childhood for the past fifteen years. Currently she tends a home-based anthroposophical nursery program and is writing monthly guides on on the elements of early childhood for parents and home programs celebrating the sacred in the everyday. She can be found at her blog, or the group blog for Waldorf Homeschoolers that she founded.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Stepping In


December has been a full month.

It's been a month filled with hard work, headaches, coughs, congestion, colds, flu, who-knows-what-ails-us, time spent in bed. Not typical here. Then there's the biting cold weather with fierce winds and below zero, yes, that is below zero Fahrenheit temperatures. I am so grateful for central heat. Then there's the magical, beautiful, powdery snow. What a surprise to have so much in December!

All this during the season of Advent and Christmas. 

Now, for the drum roll with the happy dance for elderberry syrup. I don't know what took me so long to remember this potent anti-viral. Maybe it's because we haven't been sick, I mean really sick, taken to bed, with this sort of thing for years. Anyway I am so happy to have remembered. It works.

You can read more about the efficacy and safety of elderberry syrup over here on Pub Med.

In this week that feels like a Stepping Out of Time, I am so happy to reconnect with the outer world. 

Hope you and yours are feeling well!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Simple, Slow and Sacred December

I am so pleased to share with you that yes! Simple, Slow and Sacred December is back this year and registration is open... 
The holidays seem to lend themselves to running around and stress.

Would you like to slow down and be more present with your family, while at the same time create deeply nourishing traditions that are full of wonder?

Are you trying to decide which celebrations matter to you? 

Would you like some inspiration and hands on help to find your way? 

  • Journal and conversation prompts that help you identify what is meaningful to you, to support you to create and slowly build up family traditions that feel authentic to you.
  • An article on Celebrating Festivals with Children.
  • An exploration of the Yuletide Festivals, including  the four weeks of  Advent, St. Nicholas Day, Santa Lucia's Day, Winter Solstice, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, the Twelve Days of Christmas, New Years Eve and the Epiphany or Three Kings Day.
  • A Holiday Vision Board to inspire, clarify and prioritize the mood you want to create in your home.
  • Hands on guidance and inspiration to help you celebrate the four weeks of Advent in the Waldorf home including: stories, a verse for each day of Advent, a song for each week of Advent, a weekly story about Mary and Joseph's Journey and step-by-step guidance on how to create and build up, in a meaningful way your own simple and beautiful Advent wreath, spiral and/ or manger scene over the weeks of Advent.
  • Suggestions and tips on How to Simplify Gift Giving
  • Gift Making with Children, simple projects you can do together
  • Simple Yuletide and Christmas Recipes that you can make together
  • Reflections on Your Needs and suggestions for Ways  to Nourish Yourself  through the season.
  • Planning Guidance for the season's celebrations and meals
  • Book Recommendations too!

Join me and the Celebrate the Rhythm of Life Community and find your way to conscious, creative and connected family celebrations that are simple, slow and sacred, full of deep meaning and connection.

Come on over and join us for 31 days of celebration and support in community.

Last year, I offered this class as a gift over 31 days. This year I am asking a registration fee of $25, keeping it low because I know it can be a struggle to make ends meet and I want to keep it accessible to all.

 (If somehow you can't manage the fee and feel you really need this class, send me an email and we'll work something out) 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Help! I'm Not Prepared for Michaelmas - What to Do?

My Question of the Week is: 

"HELP! I am feeling so unprepared for Michaelmas, what can I do?"

My response is this:

Keep it simple. 

Let go of the feeling that you must have Michaelmas "stuff."

You don't have to buy anything.


Resist should dos.

Embrace what's around you.

You don't need special toys or a sword and a cape or a scale, not even a picture of the Archangel Michael for the littles (the under nine crowd.)

You don't have to buy figures for the nature table.

Notice the gifts Mother Nature is offering at this time of year: beautifully colored leaves, apples, acorns, seed pods... bring them in, make it pretty - there's your nature table. You might like to sew and add a simple gnome from an old sweater that got felted in the dryer and is ready for a new purpose, for gnomes are the elemental beings of autumn.

Resist talking about the Archangel Michael or a festival with the children younger than second grade.


We want to share it all with them, we love it so much. Save a little for the years ahead.

Let second grade be the year of learning about the Archangel Michael.

Young children look to us to learn what it means to be human. They need to see us finding joy and meaning within. They don't need names for this harvest festival, they need experiences. Of seeing a task through. Of harvesting marigold seeds or fruits or vegetables or nuts. Of putting the garden to rest. Of playing in the leaves. Of taking the sweaters and hanging them to air. Of washing the lawn furniture and preparing it for winter. Of sweeping leaves off the deck. Of picking apples and bring some to a neighbor. Of baking pies and sharing one with someone who could use some sweetness in their life.

You don't have to craft anything or even to learn a whole circle this week.

Embrace simple.

Let your celebration flow out of your life.

It won't look like the Waldorf school.

You're not a Waldorf school.

You're a mom or a dad, living in a home creating a culture of your family.
Your celebration will suit your family and your life.

A few examples of what I mean by simple:

:: Tell one story of courage.

:: Go apple picking.

:: Polish apples with a flannel cloth from the ragbag, with care.

:: Cut an apple in half horizontally and discover (with a feeling of awe and wonder) the star inside.

:: Go out in the evening and wonder in amazement at the stars.

:: Roast vegetables in the fire ~ corn, potatoes, carrots, onion, something yummy.

:: Gather marigold seeds from the dry and dead flower heads.

:: Make seed packets from watercolor paintings for your marigold seeds. Put them away in a dry spot to "sleep" over the winter.

"For the young child, Michaelmas is a harvest festival, a time to savor the harvest, roast vegetables, polish apples, cut them in half to discover the stars within and celebrate through song, story and food the gifts and  wonders of nature and all her beauteous bounty. Michaelmas is also a time for purposeful work." More here

Simple. Simple.

Read up on Michaelmas for adults, and walk with that, carry it along in your being, and just notice how it feels, what comes up for you. What inspires your courage? 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Get Your Rhythm On!

Registration is now open for...

Your Way to Rhythm
30 day eCourse for September

As September rolls in, so does the need or maybe urge to bring form to our lives. The crisp dry air lifts the murky humid fog of summer and helps bring clarity to our minds, enthusiasm in our hearts and energy to our limbs.

This, my friends, is the time to sink into a home rhythm that works for you.

Each month I teach an eCourse to help you feel more confident as a parent. September's eCourse  Your Way to Rhythm is devoted to helping you establish and maintain a harmonious home rhythm that suits the particular needs of your family.

This popular online course, developed in 2012 by me will guide, nourish and support you each step of the way to develop rhythm from the inside out - for you to become confident within in establishing and maintaining a rhythm that supports your family.

You'll be supported every single day through the month of September in Your Way to Rhythm.

With Daily Support in the course through notes, recordings, videos and exercises to help you get your rhythm on.

With Weekly Group Mentoring Calls for support, inspiration and answers to your questions.

Ongoing. At the end of the course, you'll be invited to join a Facebook Community for class members that focuses exclusively on healthy home rhythms where you can check in anytime for support with your home rhythm and remain connected to others on the same path.

I've been supporting parents, teachers and child caregivers in establishing and maintaining strong and healthy rhythms for decades. This course is full of new material and the best of material from past courses. I hope you'll join me for the month of September. 

What Past Participants Have to Say About the Course:

Lisa’s eCourse on Rhythm helped me see how simple rhythm can be. Her support through the month helped me make positive changes and stick with them. Our family life is calmer and I feel more confident, present (and patient) with my children. This is a super helpful course, thank you Lisa!
There’s so much I want to do with my children now when they are young. Lisa’s Rhythm class helped me clarify what matters most and let go of the rest. The group experience over the course of a month helped me make changes. Our days are not all harmony and rainbows, but they are filled with more reverence and activities that I've been wanting in our days. 
I took this course (Rhythm) as a last ditch effort thinking it wouldn’t really help. Surprise ~ surprise, I found myself making small changes through the month. The momentum of the class with a community helped me lots. Lisa's guidance is gentle and full of wisdom.
Join now to receive the support you need to feel confident in establishing and maintaining a strong rhythm in your home. It's Rhythm from the Inside Out!

no fee for Year Round Members of Celebrate the Rhythm of Life ~ living curriculum program
included with Membership in September's Celebrate the Rhythm of Life

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


Hello August!

Today is the first day of August heralding in the season of Lammastide.

As the wheel of the year  begins its turn away from the summer  solstice and moves towards autumn, there's a noticeable change in the air and in the plants. Are you experiencing it too?

It's precisely that moment in summer when the light of the sun and the heat of summer have coalesced and reached their peak, where they rest for a moment together before they begin to withdraw. With this dance of light and warmth comes the Grain Mother clad in her golden cloak spreading an abundance of grain for the people and animals of the earth. This is Lammastide, the bountiful harvest of the grain. Also know as the Feast of Bread  or Lughnasadh in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.

This is a celebration of bounty, of gratitude for all that is, and particularly of the grain. The Grain Mother in her golden cloak has brought wheat, oats, barley, corn and rye, grains that will be put up to sustain people through the cold and dark days of winter. Sunflowers and nettles are ripe with seeds for the birds to eat over the winter.

In olden times and in parts of northern Europe today, this season of year is known as Lammastide, the time of the harvest of the grains, a time of abundance and gratitude.

A few simple ways for you to celebrate during Lammastide:

  • Notice the plants that grow wild by the roadside.
  • Notice the feeling in the air.
  • Notice what is coming to fruition in your life.
  • Look for the golden in nature, in yourself and in others.

A few simple ways to celebrate Lammastide with children:
  • Bake a Lammas loaf of bread by adding a handful of mixed grains to your favorite bread recipe. Or top it with seeds.
  • Incorporate wheat, spelt and rye berries, whole barley and oats into your diet. Try eating them in simple ways. Try making polenta topped with a stew of fresh tomatoes and summer squashes.
  • Make corn dollies with corn husks.
  • Pick mint leaves as soon as the dew dries in the morning and dry it for winter tea.
  • Harvest catmint and dry it for your favorite kitties.
  • Watch for the light of fireflies in the dark of night.

May your harvest be abundant and may the sun shine warm upon your face!

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