Monday, January 31, 2011

Feast of Brigid

Working away to get this guide out, on the eve of the Feast of Brigid, which is the day she is said to have died ( Saints are celebrated on the day they died) I came across this lovely verse:

The dandelion lights its spark

Lest Brigid find the wayside dark.
And Brother Wind comes rollicking
For joy that she has brought the spring.
Young lambs and little furry folk
Seek shelter underneath her cloak.

Winifred Mary Letts (1882 - 1972)

from Rebecca Chesney, who has a particular interest in dandelions, over here at her blog Dandelions, where she examines the dandelion connect to Brigid.

Dandelion is the flower of the spring fire goddess, seems fitting. And such a transformative flower too.

Rhythm in Our Home :: Wet on Wet Watercolor Painting Tutorial

We are working hard to bring you the February guides today. Here is a sneak peak into the painting tutorial.

Create beautiful Valentines with paintings. Wet on wet watercolor painting brings children an experience of color that is truly their own and beautiful as well. Make it a part of your weekly rhythm. I like to paint of Friday which is Venus' day.

  • It includes:
  • how to set up for painting
  • what simple materials are needed
  • what mood and gesture to bring
  • what age this suits
  • how to include the younger siblings or children in care
  • verses, song and story to bring with painting

The tutorial is here on The Wonder of Childhood Magazine.

For even more support with wet on wet watercolor painting, join my Homeschool Curriculum Program, this is a lively, interactive way to bring daily, weekly and seasonal rhythm to your home and to delve more deeply into activities that nurture wonder and imagination in a magical way.  Click here for more.


February Monthly Guide

Dear Reader,

Almost here. Today they will launch!

I am working hard to bring you the February Monthly Guide to Celebrating the Rhythm of Life with Children. The guide includes celebration ideas for Saint Brigid's Day, Chinese New Year and Valentines Day with stories, songs, verses, recipes and craft ideas as well as support for finding a strong rhythm in your day, week and year.

The guide will be released today to those who sing up and are willing to offer some feedback in exchange for the guide. If you'd like the guide and are willing to offer comments, e-mail me at Monthlyguides(at) today so I can add you to the list.

The February guide includes how to weave a Saint Brigid cross, a recipe for Valentine's day heart baking with children, simple sewing for a Valentine's pouch, beautiful Valentines making with a wet on wet water color painting tutorial, and 15 ideas for the celebration of Chinese New Year with Children.

The guide also includes something for baby and tips for bringing a harmonious flow to your day with toddlers. Child care providers will find tips specific to child care work as well.

Sign up to receive the free guide today, if you are willing to offer feedback.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Free Monthly Guides

Dear Readers,

Have you used or thought about using a monthly seasonal guide to inspire your time with children?

Parents, childcare providers and preschool teachers wanted to test read/use February guide which is designed to provide a deeper understanding of Waldorf education, self knowledge, rhythm, strength, nourishment, fun and community in the task of caring for young children.

In exchange, you'll provide some honest feedback.

Includes stories, verses, finger play and ring time activities, outdoor activities, handcrafts, meal plans, meal blessings, tips for caring for the self, tips for caring for the space, toddler tips

If you are interested, e-mail me at: Monthlyguides(at)

Thank you,


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Beeswax Candle Dipping Preparation

As we prepare to dip candles we gather the components:

Beeswax ~ a wheel

or chunks

a pot ~ one that can be dedicated to wax melting

a large can to put inside the pot ~ this one held pineapple juice


a dowel or branch to hang the candles as they dry

Warm the beeswax in the can in water in the pot

Waiting for the beeswax to melt

We'll continue when wax is melted......stayed tuned...until tomorow

Feast of Brigid

The Feast of Brigid began as a pagan celebration of Brigid, the Celtic Goddess of fire, healing, childbirth, poetry and unity, often with the entire month of February dedicated to Brigid. (So no worries about missing the day, it's a season as are all festivals.) She is known by many names, including Bride, Brigit and Saint Brigid.
The Celts regarded Brigid as a triple goddess; this notion of three deities in one is also very ancient and has its origins in the ancient goddesses. So beloved by her people of Ireland, she was later made a saint, after Christianity arrived upon the shores of Ireland. She is now known and venerated as Saint Bridget and Saint Bride. Brigid is the patroness Saint of Ireland, good harvests, healthy babies, poets and inventions and held is high esteem alongside Mother Mary in Ireland.
It is said that nine priestesses kept an eternal healing fire at her shrine in Kildare and that Brigid was a great healer, able to give sight to the blind and heal wounds considered hopeless at her sacred wells.

What intrigues me about Brigid is that she is an ancient goddess who has endured through the ages, through the old meeting the new and she persists with her history intact, she is not a distortion of the ancient divine feminine. For me, Candlemas needs to include Brigid. For more on her remarkable survival and evolution from pagan goddess to Catholic saint read more here.

Candlemas is the name given to the day, February 2nd, by the Church, to mark the presentation to the Temple of the Holy Child by Simeone, who declared the Holy Child to be "of light" (Book of Luke.)

Candlemas is a feast of initiation, of possibility, of light, of the old meeting the new and the old giving way to the new, the frozen earth giving way to the stirring of new life. Candles are blessed in churches this day.

To celebrate Brigid, a poetry festival is here .
For more on the poetry festival here.

Stories of Brigid from The Baldwin Project,with a little tweaking, each makes a fine story for a young child or a second grade story. Together the stories provide inspiration to paint a picture of her:

Saint Bridget of Kildare, here
Saint Bridget, here
Saint Bridget and the King's Wolf, here
Saint Bridget also known as Saint Bride in the Catholic Church here

More on Brigid, here

And lots more, Brigid as Goddess or Saint? here
Saint Brigit and Saint Patrick, here
Song of Brigid here

What is giving way in you? What is being born? What is there to let go of? What to bring forth? What is giving way in your child? What is emerging, coming forth? How can we parents step aside and let go of the old and herald in the new developments of our children?

Bright blessings on you and yours.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Jack Frost is about!

Look out! Look out!
Jack Frost is about!
His silvery powder he'll shake
And, all through the night,
The sweet little sprite

Such wonderful pictures he'll make!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Winter Circle

This is a response to a query on how to bring circle to two active boys, age two and age five. Circle time at home can be hard with a few children and especially with just one child or very young children.

I never did circle time with my children alone at home until first grade. We had a play group that met regularly of children and parents that we did circle with when they were young (3-6) One of my children went to kindergarten and had circle as part of his morning there, five days a week.

Neither of my boys has ever really taken to circle at home, yet my fifteen year old still remembers the verses to some of the circles we did nine years ago, particularly a harvest circle with big galloping movement. He laughs about it now. He also loves language and is an articulate speaker, something I attribute to 1) that's just who he is and 2) his early exposure to beautiful and complex rhythmic language in a playful and fun way.

With the Morning Garden (nursery) children I had in my home, I was just about to give up on circle time and pack it in, when one little child led the call for the "ring around the hosey." I persisted in carrying on with these little nursery circles. They hardly changed through the year with the exception of a few well chosen seasonal pieces. The children seem to love them.

If you want to do circle at home with your children, these are my suggestions: First remind yourself that any new activity with children needs time and space to develop:

1. Anchor it in your day.

2. Do circle or ring time in the same sequence of events every day that you are home together in your daily home routine. This is often Monday through Friday.

This might look like a coming together time after breakfast and dressing and chores or after being outside, after Morning Tea, upon coming in.....

What matters most is when you and your children are likely to be focused and do it every time in the same sequence of events.

So let's imagine that the children have had a good free play and the room is a disaster with blocks strewn everywhere and shells and stones and cloths all over the floor in the room that is most suited to circle. You see the picture?

You might ring a little bell, ever so gently, and look at it as if it is magical, then sing a little song, over and over and over, so softly as you begin to pick up the room with caring and love.

3. Create and maintain a strong rhythm for the children. Rhythm is strength and health for everyone. Eugene Schwartz said that when we are punctual and keep to what we intend to do, the spiritual beings support us.

4. Don't expect regular participation or full engagement for at least three weeks. Some children won’t engage at all but may watch from the periphery. I had one child who watched from the edges.

5. Stand at your same spot on the circle and begin. (do not ask the children to join ~ just do it)

The following first verse worked well for me as a call to circle with the wee little ones with these gestures:

I nod my head, (nod head)
I clap my hands (clap hands)
and then I stamp my feet (give a good stamp or two with each foot)

I reach up high (both arms reach up)
And bend down low (hands to floor)
And then I take my seat (kneel on floor)


(sing) Good Morning to the Sun up in the sky
(hands arms opening to sun gesture)

Good Morning to the birds as they fly on by
(arms out at sides fluttering)

Good Morning to the trees so straight and tall
(arms above head straight and tall, palms together))

Good Morning to the nests where the squirrels do rest
(hands cupped against chest at heart level look down)

Good Morning everyone
(outstretch arms for hug if you like)


(Sit down on bottoms, feet touching together in middle, this works like a wheel,reach hands out to sides and up, touching neighbor if there are enough of you)

(spoken) Each one a petal
Of one great flower
(arms out stretched, sit tall)

That closes by night
(hands reach to toes, pause)

And opens with the light
(hands come up over head and open wide)


(take out your clicker sticks, pointer and tall fingers together click on opposite hand pointer and tall finger held out together and tap fingers against each other)

(sing) Kuru, kuru, kuru kai, ay ay
All the birds are singing rise

Open up your sleepy eyes (rub eyes)
(sung) Morning has come (arms up open)

The night is away (bring arms to sides on floor outstretched )
We rise with the sun (stand up)

And welcome the day


(sung) Rinca ranca rosey ray
Welcome welcome lovely day
(move in a circle sing 2 or 3 times)


(sing) In the winter garden, through the falling snow
Stars are gleaming, streaming, gleaming,
Down to earth below.


In the winter garden, seeds lie warm below
Deep and snug and oh so warm
Covered by the snow

My adaptation of Margaret Meyerkort and Nancy Foster's version in Wynstones Winter edition.


(sing) Ring around the Rosie
A pocket full of posies

Ashes, ashes
We all fall down

The cows are in the meadow eating bred and butter
A tishoo, a tishoo
We all jump up


(sing) Jump! (jump up)
Jump! (jump up)
Jump Jimmy Joe (jump)

Shake your head and nod your head and tap your toe
And you bow to your partner and you jump Jimmy Joe

(do gestures described)

Do this one 2 or 3 times


(sing) Sally go round the sun
Sally go round the moon
Sally go round the chimney pot on a snowy afternoon

( go around in a circle then all move in to center on whoosh!)


For this one, take out some silk cloths to cover the children
(Children crouch and are the "dear little plants")
( Sing) Deep in the earth buried deep so deep

A dear little plant lay fast asleep
Sleep little plant so snug and warm

Sleep little plant all winter long

The little plant slept so warm and tight

While King Winter raged with all his might


Do with gestures to the tune of I'm a little teapot:

I'm a little snowman, short and fat
Here is my broomstick, here is my hat
(hand out to side, touch head)

When the sun comes out, I melt away
(Open arms to make sun gesture and melt slowly to ground)

Down, down, down, down
Whoops! I' m a puddle
(on the floor)


( turn to each direction and make big windy whoosh sound with hands cupped around mouth like megaphone)

(sing) Old King Winter came out to play
And said I'm going to make this a very cold day
So he turned to the east ~ Whoooosh!
To the south ~ Whooosh!!
To the West Whooosh!

Then he turned to the North and said that's the best!
For my very good friend is the old North Wind
And when we play, we make a very, very, very cold day

(from Mary Theines Schunemann, Seasons Songs Book)


Sit down and sing this song, make gesture of questioning with hands?

(sing) The North Wind doth blow
And we shall have snow
And what shall poor robin do then?
poor thing!

She'll fly to the barn and keep herself warm
By hiding her head under her wing,
Poor thing.

The North Wind doth blow
And we shall have snow
And what shall poor robin do then?
Poor thing!

She'll fly to the barn and keep herself warm
By hiding her head under her wing,
Poor thing!

The North Wind doth blow
And we shall have snow
And what shall the children do then?
Poor things!

They'll sled and they'll romp
They'll move to keep warm
And play lots of games in a ring.
Poor things!


Finger play: spoken rhythmically

Five little snowmen
On a winter's day

The first one said,
"Wake up, let's have a play.

The second one said,
"Let's stomp upon the ground."

The third one said,
"Let's roll all around."

The fourth one said,
"Let's run, run, run."

The fifth one said,
"Oh dear, here is the sun"

"Oh dear!" cried the snowmen,
As they looked toward the sky.

And the five melting snowmen
Waved a fond good-bye

Goodbye dear snowmen!


(Sit quietly with hands folded in lap speak in even quieting voice)

An owl sat alone
On the branch of a tree

And he was as quiet
As quiet could be

(Make rings with thumb and pointer, hold to eyes, turn head from one side to other)

It was night and his eyes
were round like this

He looked around
Not a thing did he miss
(creep slowly and gently from hand up child's arm)

Some brownies crept up
On the branch of a tree

And they were as quiet
As quiet could be

(make flapping gesture with arms)
Said the wise old owl
To-whooo! To-whooo!

Up jumped the brownies
And away they all flew

(sit quietly, put hands in lap )

An owl sat alone
On the branch of a tree

And he was as quiet
As quiet could be



On Mother Earth I stand upright
The sun above by day gives light
The moon and stars by night


Tip toe tip toe
That's the way the fairies go

Stomp stomp stom stomp
That's the way the giants stomp
(go tip toeing and stomping off to your next adventure)

this verse is a great transition tool too in lots of situations that require moving the child from one place/situation to another, try it and see!

Hope this is helpful for you. For me it is a regular moment in the day to bring songs and verse that will be echoed in play and work through the day. It really takes adult rhythm and focus to carry it.

Read on for Circle Time :: Basic Elements of Living with Children

Enjoy and blessings on you and yours!

Nature Table for January

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Birthday Child!

Eight kisses when he wakes,
Eight candles on his cake
For Duncan with his heart of gold
Today he is eight years old!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Yarn Along

Today, I'm joining Ginny over at Small Things in her Yarn Along.

I'll confess that I am more of a reader than a knitter. Sleep comes easily for me with a few pages of fiction each night. Knitting is something I am striving to bring into my daily life. The challenge is finding a regular time for it and carrying it with me when I go to places where I can sit and knit.

I am loving Alice Hoffman's book, The Probable Future, which knits together three living generations of women and their maternal ancestors in a small New England town with  healing and understanding. Our annual family Christmas chapter book is coming to a close; it's Mary's Little Donkey by Gunhild Sehlin, a sweet story of Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem and Egypt told from the perspective of the donkey.

My knitting project is a little robe for a small wooden fellow.

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

this post is from my Celebrate the Rhythm of Life Monthly program packets sampler 

"Gung Hay Fat Choy!"

In China, every girl and boy 
Celebrates the New Year
in a very special way -

With fireworks and dragons
colored red and gold - 

They welcome in the new year
and chase away the old! 

~ Helen H. Moore


hear a Gung Hay Fat Choy song here

Dear Readers,

A warm welcome to the February blog for Celebrate the Rhythm of Life!

Thank you for coming by to have a look. I'd love your frank feedback on what you love, what is missing and what you can do without.

I am so deeply touched by all the beautiful and kind words in your e-mails. I had no idea if anyone was reading my blog and finding any value in it. It feels so good to read all your notes and have a little picture of the individuals out there, all of connected by this cold, electronic machine, yet feeling warmth streaming through from all around the world. Thank you all.

This is a work in progress. I will be adding things as they days go by and including tutorials, so check in here on this page to see what is new. I have photos and tutorials and more on every topic coming in the next fews days. The sections on toddlers, handcrafts for children, handwork for mom and nature activities are coming in the next few days. Keep looking.

In future months, the plan is to have it all laid out for the release before the first of the month.

February begins with Brigid's Day. Brigid is a fascinating historical personage for she began as a powerful fire goddess and with the advent of Christ endured and was transformed into a Christian Saint as well as to become the Patroness Saint of Ireland. The old met the new and transformed yet with integrity, Brigid maintained her power. It is said she has a mantle much like that of Mother Mary.

Candlemas, as a season in the pagan and Christian calendar comes to an end officially on February 2nd, then heralds in Chinese New Year on the 3rd, 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit with fifteen days of celebration following the new moon until the full moon. And then there is Valentine's Day. What a lot to celebrate!

Here, in Vermont, we are blanketed with snow and enjoying more snow. If you are under snow, have you made a snowman yet? Built a snow fort? A snow lantern? Made an ice window or ice lantern? Been sledding or ice skating? Warm woolen blankets, lots of layers and a thermos of warm cocoa or tea can make the snow a pleasant experience for all ages. When do the snowdrop flowers emerge where you live?

Choose what to celebrate with care. Remember that less is more and too much of a good thing is not a good thing, especially with young children. One relaxed activity can bring heaps of fun. I have all these examples because I have had a child of my own in early childhood for the past fifteen years and have had lots of time to celebrate and refrain over those years with my children and with families and children of The Children's Garden, my nursery program. I'm bringing you pictures of possibilities to peek at, forget about and then find your own way into that which speaks to you.

One fond memory is of a Valentine's tea party for four, five and six year old boys and girls. We ate cupcakes with fluffy frosting, drank tea from pretty china cups on a table set with a pretty cloth and flowers and made heart shaped origami. I like to make heart shaped scones on Valentine's Day because they are simple and delicious and lovely to behold. Some years we might open a jar of homemade strawberry jam from last summer for this day.

Whatever you do, keep it simple and make room for the breathing and fun. If you find yourself breathing fast, dropping into bed at nigh exhausted or holding your breath during the day, rethink your day and remember children need 1) sleep, 2) food, 3) play and 4) fresh air alongside a warm, loving adult to thrive. That's all they need.

If you have time to do the laundry, prepare the meals, do the dishes, clean up after, sleep adequately and go outside everyday and still have time leftover, then take up the celebrations. Otherwise, just light a candle with meals and celebrate being together, being sane and having quiet moments.

The Rhythm in this guide is something I have used that works for me. It is meant to be a little snapshot of one way of doing it, among many possibilities. I hope it will inspire you to find your way into a rhythm that works for you and your family.

I will continue to post throughout the month in this column. Please feel free to send me your questions and comments at:


Monday, January 10, 2011

Rhythm of the Year

Here's my first sketch of a Wheel of the Year, the original copy; it's a bit dry and formal looking. It's a version of the cycle of the year that I made in 1998 when Angus was a wee lad.

I photocopied it in parchment paper and kept it on my fridge for years so I could add notes to the original. Your looking at a fresh copy for I made copies to share as handouts in classes I taught. Now the original has frayed edges and tears.

Looking at the year as a wheel helps me imagine the year as a turning wheel and develop a feel for the mood of the year through the seasons.

We were living on the equator when I made it and I was really wrestling with my relationship to the rhythm of the year. The presence of the wheel helped me see the year in a larger context.

Snowmen finger play

Five little snowmen

On a winter's day
The first one said,
"Wake up, let's have a play."

The second one said,
"Let's stomp on the ground."

The third one said,
"Let's roll all around."

The fourth one said,
"Let's run, run, run."

The fifth one said,
"I'm afraid I feel the sun"

"Oh dear!" cried the snowmen,

As they looked toward the sky.

And the five melting snowmen

Waved a fond good-bye

Goodbye dear snowmen!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Rudolf Steiner and the Mood of Christmas

In working on a post for Epiphany, with a little circle play and a song and a cake, I came across this lecture given by Rudolf Steiner on the mood of Christmas. The Festival of Christmas, according to Steiner, is one of the greatest festivals of the year that humaity can celebrate. Steiner asks, in this lecture, " does what is happening in the streets correspond with what is meant to flow through the hearts and souls of man?" in referring to the Christmas celebration.

This was written in 1919, nearly one hunderd years ago, yet it is so precise for today, for me. Steiner leaves his audience with reassure that, " humanity can once again experience the depth and greatness of the impulse which belongs to this festival. "

This is an excerpt from that lecture given on the 22nd of December 1910, in Berlin:

"What has become often a mere festival of gifts cannot be said to have the same meaning as what the Christmas festival meant to people for many centuries in the past. Through the celebration of this festival the souls used to blossom forth with hope-filled joy, with hope-borne certainty, and with the awareness of belonging to a spiritual Being, Who descended from Spiritual heights, and united Himself with the earth, so that every human soul of good will may share in His powers. Indeed, for many centuries the celebration of this festival awakened in the souls of men the consciousness that the individual human soul can feel firmly supported by the spiritual power just described, and that all men of good will can find themselves gathered together in the service of this spiritual power. Thereby they can also find together the right ways of life on earth, so that they can mean humanly as much as possible to one another, so that they can love each other as human beings on earth as much as possible.

Suppose we find it appropriate to let the following comparison work on our souls: What has the Christmas festival been for many centuries, and what should it become in the future? To this end, let us compare, on the one hand, the mood which social custom creates nowadays in certain parts of the world around us, with the mood that once permeated the Christmas festival. On the other hand, let us compare this mood of the present time with what can come about in the soul as a renewal of this festival, made as it were timeless, through Spiritual Science."

To read more, click here.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this lecture and Christmas.

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