Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Sweet February Activities for You and Your Children!

February is here and there are so many sweet ways we can celebrate this month of LOVE with the children we care for. I've created many e-books to help guide parents and teachers in creating a nurturing and loving environment for children and I hope they help you make beautiful memories together.

The February Caregiver's Calendar is only $3.00 for the entire month and is filled with important dates, Waldorf festival celebrations, colors and grains for the day, full moon dates and a daily idea or activity for each day of the month.  It is a great way to spend very little and get a tiny peek into Little Acorn Learning's ideas and philosophies.
Photo by Maggie Williams
The February 5 Day Program can be used as a Kindergarten At-Home curriculum or can be used in your entire family or mixed aged group to help you create a healthy rhythm to each day.  This non-academic curriculum guides caregiver's through each day of the week from morning until evening time with recipes, songs, games, crafts, household chores, book recommendations, blackboard drawings, caregiver meditations and much more. All of the planning is done for you and focus is not only put on the children but also on LOVING and caring for yourself, the caregiver.


The February Afterschooling Guide follows the rhythm of a weekly theme but does not have each day mapped out. It provides the flexibility that teachers, homeschoolers and afterschooling parents need to enrich their children's life with Waldorf ideas and philosophies.  These e-books are best used with older children directly or in mixed aged settings with little ones being the "helpers with more complicated crafts and activities.  They are filled with crafts, recipes, activities, stories and inner-work suggestions for you.  


I hope these help you as you move into the month of February. We also have wonderful natural childcare menus, handwork e-books, e-courses and if you are looking to prepare for Spring - please take a look at our Festival E-Book Section and consider our Spring Festivals E-Book which will help you plan ahead with the children!

For anyone wanting to see what's inside our e-books, you can view FREE SAMPLES on our website and try them yourself!

Enjoy the beautiful month with the children and take good care of yourself!


Monday, February 1, 2016

Crayon Candles for Candlemas

Tomorrow is Candlemas and it seemed fitting to make candles with the children to celebrate this beautiful festival that is on the same day as Groundhog's Day! 

The term "Candlemas" comes from a very old Christian custom of blessing candles on this day. And, the day itself marks the halfway point of winter when we can look ahead to the warmer days of spring.  

The idea of melting broken crayons to use as a wax base for fun candles came to mind. I found some easy ways to melt the crayons in Dixie cups online and make candles but I wanted to try something of my own. So, through trial and error, we finally came up with something that worked. 

Out of aluminum foil, we made heart shapes to make into molds for our candles.  The process looks nice and clean on a blog post but I promise you it didn't go as smoothly :) ...

First off, don't underestimate the time it will take you to get the paper off the crayons. The children helped me peel them off but I had to speed up the process on my own by using a crafting knife to take off the rest. It is a process in itself but little children love helping to sort the colors in each cup and it was a great way for them to help while learning their colors.



I popped our creation into the oven all excited thinking we would very easily melt the crayons in the little frames and have instant heart candles to add wicks to!  

Well... yeah... not so much...

W soon learned that idea was not going to work so easy. The wax quickly leaked underneath our hearts and all over the aluminum foil I (luckily) placed on the bottom. 

So, then we tried again by carefully covering our frames with more foil and making little heart "cups" to melt our wax in.  


Even this way, we had some leaking but not enough to ruin the end result thankfully. I think I can eventually master making these little molds with some time and practice.


Obviously, the easiest way to make candles this way is to put the broken crayons into a little heat-safe cup that you will not need again.  If you go slow you can even do one color at a time and make a rainbow effect but those who know me best know when I have my mind set on something, patience isn't always my strong suit so we did it my way instead :)


After letting the molds cool a bit, we added a wick in the center and let the wax harden.  When everything was totally cool we VERY carefully peeled away the aluminum and were so excited to see these pretty heart candles appear! The crayon shavings on top were added from scraping the leaked wax off the aluminum and putting them on top of the warm wax.


It's important to put a dish or even keep these in the original aluminum cups if you are going to use them throughout the day, but we were very excited so we lit them quick for a photo! 


Happy Candlemas from Little Acorn Learning! 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Living An Authentic Life

Earlier in the week, during a conversation, the topic of "living authentically" came up. It's been on my mind ever since and I've been thinking more about the question:

"What does it mean to live an authentic life?"
In order to truly live authentically, I think we must first be aware and in touch with who we are. This means digging deep to identify our values, our passions, our desires, our goals and our sources of joy. I also think it means being able to allow those things to change over time - to "re"identify them when your intuition is telling you life just doesn't feel right.

Being authentic means being genuine and real.

It means not diluting who you are to pretend you are someone you are not.  It means not altering the way you talk or intentionally changing the things you say in order to uphold some sort of image that you want others to associate you with.

It means being transparent and vulnerable.

Authenticity requires us to be honest and imperfect.  It requires us to speak the truth and make unpopular decisions.  It calls for us to do in our hearts what we feel to be right and move forward fearlessly.

Authenticity requires an insane amount of courage.

Authentic people shed relationships that are fake and filled with pretense and attract the right people - those who are meant to be in their life and bring out the best in them. Authentic people are not loved by everyone but they are loved by the right ones.

I try hard to be authentic in my speech and my actions. I think I do this most times. Of course I never do it all of the time. It is not always easy and it is often unpopular to say what you feel and be who you are.

What is more difficult for me, however, is the digging deeper part. Being able to recall and remember, in the midst of life's daily struggles, WHAT those values, passions, desires, goals and sources of joy of mine really are.  Then, being able to successfully do what is necessary to apply them to daily life and decisions I make.  Being able to bring them to the surface.  It's hard to re-evaluate where I am and make sure it is connecting and flowing with who I am because it is ever-changing.

Living authentically requires us to examine ourselves time and time again and then take action to stay on course.

I think this means we must work to identify the people, activities and situations that make us feel the most alive and bring us the most joy. We need to listen to our intuition when we feel the opposite. Then, we must challenge old beliefs, stagnant ideas and have the courage to make decisions that help us live from this place of who we are.

I am most alive when I am being creative, writing, taking care of my body, surrounding myself with like-minded people, doing work that matters in this world and being a mindful parent.

I am out of touch with who I am when I am around negative people, repeating ineffective patterns, doing mundane work that does not utilize my skills and surrounding myself with people or situations in which I cannot be my truest self.

The way to discover your passions - what brings you joy - is to recall those things, people or situations in which time almost seems to disappear... where you are so focused and in flow that nothing else seems to matter and deep inside of you there is a feeling of pure joy as you go.

What things make you feel most alive? How do you strive to live authentically?


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Winter Days, Waldorf Training and Chicken Combs





Winter has definitely arrived in Connecticut. We've been trying to keep busy and still go outside whenever possible during daycare hours. Although sometimes, it is a bit too uncomfortable to stay out for long. 

As always, I have a lot going on. I've recently accepted a position as the Student Services Director of the next East Coast Lifeways training at my local Waldorf school.  This is so exciting because not only will I be able to complete the training myself and integrate it into my teaching and writing but I also get to help others become trained as Waldorf Early Childhood educators.  If you live on the east coast and would like more information on the training, please contact me.

In addition, I put out a new series of 2016 Caregiver's Calendars! They are only $3 each and are filled with important dates, Waldorf festivals, colors and grains for the day, full moon dates and a daily inspirational idea or activity to help you be a more mindful caregiver (taking care of not only the children in your care but YOURSELF).

Around Miss Eileen's farm, we've been trying to keep the animals warm.  It's been absolutely freezing some days and nights.  I have lined the chickens coop with pine shavings, keep a light on indoors to keep them warmer and also have purchased a water heater because their water keeps freezing over.


I still let them free range when I can but the pickings are slim in the winter so I've been doing my best to supplement their food with scraps from the kitchen.

 


Our rabbit can't handle being outside when it is this cold, so we take her hutch into the garage and sometimes add a heat lamp when necessary.  I feel bad that she is not able to be outside and to be very honest, we don't spend enough time playing with her lately with all we have going on.  But, she is warm, fed and loved. So for now, I try to remember we are doing our best.


I was expecting a huge drop in egg production but luckily I am still getting 4-6 eggs per day. The light in their coop is helping with that as I know many people who are not getting as many eggs in the winter months because of the lack of light.  We often have too many eggs and I do my best to gift them to family and friends when I can. 


Even with all my winter prep, Mr. Coconut has suffered frostbite on his comb. I am not happy with the way it looks but rather than messing around with it, I'm trying to let nature take it's course and keep a close on on it for infection. From what I've read the parts of his comb that are black will eventually fall off.  He's my love and I hope he'll be ok. 


The other day after daycare, I was writing my books and the chickens were out roaming. Mr. Coconut found out where I was and it was really the cutest thing ever:

video

We've also been very busy with our new puppy.  We take him for walks and he's so friendly and full of life.  We are having trouble with our other dog accepting the puppy and still need to keep the two separated.  It's a concern as it doesn't seem to be getting much better even though we are trying. 


My aunt is in a rehab center and the other night I brought him to go visit her. He put a smile on a lot of people's faces. He may have a career as a therapy dog. :) 


So stay warm and keep an eye on our calendars and new e-books. We are adding new ones each each day!  I look forward to sharing all of the fun activities we have going on this winter as well as new information on Lifeways training.

xoxo eileen



Friday, January 1, 2016

Celebrate Three Kings Day & The Epiphany with Your Family!


With Contributions by:
~ Eileen Straiton, Little Acorn Learning
~ Jodie Mesler, Home Music Making
~ Jennifer Tan, Syrendell
~ Valarie Budyar, Jump Into A Book
*Create Stunning Three Kings Finger Puppets

*Make Beautiful 'Stars of Wonder' to hang in  your Home or School

*Enjoy Two MP3 Three Kings Day Songs Written JUST for Little Acorn 
Learning Along with Song Sheets and Pentatonic Song Music to Use 
with the Penny Whistle or Flute in Your Winter Lesson Plans

*Enjoy Verses and Fingerplays in the Waldorf Tradition

*Make Three Kings Bundles and Three Kings Crunch!

*Learn More About the Meaning Behind this Sacred Festival

*Meditate on Verses from Rudolf Steiner and Others for This Season

*Read 
SIX Soul Warming Stories to Your Children Bringing the Spirit 
of The Epiphany into Your Home All Week

*Learn How to Bless Your Home on this Day

*Find Out What Colors to Use in Celebration of The Epiphany on 
Your Nature Table

*Create an Epiphany Bonfire!

*Teach Your Child About the Very First Christmas

*Bake Twelfth Night Cake

*Enjoy Additional Book Recommendations from Little Acorn 
Learning to Bring into Your Three Kings Theme

And Much More!
http://littleacornlearning.com/three-kings-day-the-epiphany-e-book/

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Twelfth Annual Ornament Decorating Party!



We celebrated our 12th annual Ornament Decorating Party with our good friends again this year!  It was so nice to get together!  


 The kids are so creative.  It's really amazing what they can come up with with simple things like pipe cleaners, foam, paper and other craft supplies.  
 AND this year it was SO much more relaxing for us as our children are getting so big and can do it all by themselves! The grown-ups helped a little...
 
 But most of the time we celebrated on our own ;) 

The best part of the night was when we pulled up an old photo of Keira and Haley from the parties we had in 2006.  Then, the girls spent time changing their clothing and doing their hair to recreate the photo in 2015... 

I can't believe how big they are.  I hope they will still want to make ornaments with us when they are in college!

Merry Almost Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Solstice E-Book Winner!

Thank you to all who left comment on our Winter Solstice post.  We hope you enjoyed today and you allow some of these ideas to warm your home or school in the upcoming weeks as winter sets in.

As promised, a random comment was chosen to win a $25 coupon to our website to put toward a free e-book or any product of their choice.  The winner is...

Blogger Kasey Smith said...
We play outside and gather things like pine cones and branches to decorate with. I bake gluten-free Cranberry Bread in the morning (we make a similar winter garland with left over cranberries and popcorn) and gluten-free Solstice Pot Pie for dinner.

I love your Solstice Spinners and Yule Log - I'd like to try those this year :)
Congratulations, Kasey!  Please contact us at info (at) little acorn learning.com and we will send your your prize!

xoxo