Saturday, October 15, 2011

Waldorf Inspired Home School Themes- Squirrels

We are Waldorf-inspired homeschoolers, just starting out in kindergarten. Each week follows a theme, inspiring our work and play and learning. This theme is chosen based on the season and what's on our minds. Each week I will share what we've been up to and some links and resources that will hopefully inspire you. There is a link-up at the end of this post... I hope you will share what your home school has been up to. You can find previous weeks here.
Scurry squirrels and don't be slow
Winter's coming, don't you know?
Scamper, scamper all around
Bury treasure in the ground
Scurry squirrels and don't be slow
Winter's coming, don't you know?

Our theme this week has been squirrels and acorns. Each year we very eagerly wait til the acorns begin falling and gather them many times til they're gone. I have to admit, I enjoy searching for them just as much as my girls.
I knit this sweet squirrel to accompany our circle time. I meshed the cat pattern from The Children's Year with this squirrel pattern (which I originally was going to make but ended up not caring for the pattern at all). He's scampered during songs and stories and has engaged in much play with the girls.
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We have twice been out this week to gather acorns, and Kaiya has brought an extra basket to pick up trash. I reminded the girls to pluck the nut from the cap and leave it for the squirrels. We found one that was beginning to anchor itself into the ground and we talked about what was happening there.
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Here is a project we used the caps for, I shared the tutorial earlier this week, in case you missed it. These were such a big hit and all the little girls in Kaiya's ballet class loved the ones we made for them. She asked me today when we would be making more. They were really fun, but I think we'll probably use them differently next time. How many necklaces can you wear?
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We all made acorn sprites. Even River worked on this one with us. She put so much paint on that little doll!
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My children love knowing they can make their own toys. How empowering for them!
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Our last project of the week was this....
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... a hollowed out tree for their squirrel to hide his nuts in (and their acorn sprites to live).
This one was a little trickier for the girls. We tried to use white glue but everything was sliding around so that meant the hot glue gun it was going to have to be. Zoe is terrified of it and demands it be kept several feet away from her. But Kaiya has worked with it before and is pretty good with it, only the trigger is sort of stiff and she couldn't get as much out as she needed at once. So I worked the glue and she placed her twigs. Meanwhile I made Zoe's. It was messy and a little tough for them, but they were both thrilled with the end result and immediately went off to play with them. If you'd like to try making these all you need is a toilet paper roll, cut a hole in it....
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... break alot of twigs just a wee bit bigger so they come over the top and glue them in place with a hot glue gun. Make sure they're all flush with the bottom.
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I try to be mindful when I'm choosing projects to make with the girls, is this something they can actually use? Does it have a purpose. I feel it's important to show them they can make things that are useful with their own hands. I think too often children's crafts are just busywork, cutting, pasting, painting and the end result is something that will either be put away in a 'keepsake' box or thrown away later. But my girls beam with pride when they are able to make a useful gift or a toy they can actually play with.
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A Squirrel Song (I really like this particular link because it uses well know songs for tunes, which I am terrible at coming up with)
The Squirrel
Scurry Squirrels (my girls' favorite)
Squirrel Nutkin (scroll about half way down the page)

An Autumn Story

Squirrel FAQ
That link will give you alot of facts about squirrels and, obviously, you would pick and choose based on your child's age and interest. I made a list of several points and tried to keep them in mind as we talked and as squirrely things came up (you would be surprised). Here are the points we went over.

~Squirrels have pouches in their cheeks to carry food.
~Some squirrels hibernate, some don't.
~They eat seeds, nuts, leaves, bulbs, mushrooms and some eat insects, worms, eggs, small birds and other small animals.
~They use their tails for balance, as a parachute, should they fall, as a blanket in winter and to communicate with other squirrels. The most common tail gesture is flicking which means 'Get away!'.
~ Squirrels build nests called 'dreys'. They are made of twigs and leaves. The interior is lined with fur, feathers or other soft material for compost. They're built high in a tree between two strong branches. They will also build a nest, called a 'den' in a hollow tree cavity.

As always, my homeschooling pinboard can be found here, songs and verses here.

OK, that was our week. What about yours?