Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thank You to All!

Thanks to all Spindlewoodians who prepared,crafted, schlepped, sold, shopped and stitched for the Yuletide Faire atAshwood this weekend. Such a gentle, joyful event. Wonderful to see thechildren’s delight at the puppet show and the wholesome, hand-made treasuresand good food. So heartwarming to see friends, colleagues and alumnae of 25years.
Our wool acorns were happily gathered bymany shoppers, as well as were the crafts from yesteryear. And 40 childrenstitched balsam pillows at our children’s table. Spindlewood brought in$258.50, so helpful during these lean time; but moreover we generated good will and fostered friendships with our wider community and our sister school AshwoodWaldorf School.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Letter to Parents

Just a few notes to give you a picture of our Spindlewood kindergarten mornings!

Now that the children have carried their lanterns through the November darkness, and returned to the kindergarten, each child seems to have found his or her way into the morning’s work and play. This morning began with children finding their own aprons, washing their hands in the basin of warm water and lemon oil that Miss Elisa has set out, and finding a place at the table to knead bread dough with her.

Afterwards, Seamus carefully sweeps the tabletop with the crumb brush and small
silver dust pan. He gives it his full attention.

In the main room, several children create a large “house” for the “kitten family”. Avery, Eve, Benjamin, Luka and Jonathan cover the playframes with sheets and bring food in for supper. There is a ramp for sliding in and out. Over the course of several weeks, the “wild cats” and dragons seem to have disappeared. With a little guidance, the children who at first seemed threatened by a “cat” have found ways to care for them – giving them food, helping them find a resting place, giving them a
scratch behind the ears, or wrap their paws in silk if they are “injured”. The
kittens seem content.

We have been seeing a silk marionette play at the seasonal table in recent days; one of our favorites, featuring a little girl whose fairy friends disappear with the autumn wind. To find them, she must find a “lantern” from the spindlewood tree (burning bush) and a “key” from the ash tree. When she finally finds her way to where her fairy friends are resting for the winter with Mother Earth, she is given a golden pouch of bulbs to plant in her moss garden. Hint: wouldn’t it be interesting if each child found a pouch like this for planting in his or her moss garden that
we create during Advent? As you have heard me say at various parent evenings, each year has its own unique character. This year, I am astonished at how this group of children LISTEN at story time! Such a gift.

Today, Amelia creates a play at the seasonal table. Silk cloths are carefully arranged as a landscape for all of their characters and Amelia quietly narrates the story. Elsa, Lucy and James pull up chairs and listen intently. Afterwards, Lucy and Elsa create a story.

Tor sits beside me at the spinning wheel with the drawing that he has brought from home today. “A famous one” that he has shown to all of his classmates as they arrived. I am spinning wool from Buttercup that we have carded on the carding machine, a little each day, on the picnic table. Tor is fascinated by the process and is keenly interested in all of the steps. When this spool is filled, we will ply two
strands together to make yarn suitable for knitting mittens.

Before circle time, we compose a Thank You note to Elsa’s dad for making a new xylophone stick for us! Later, Miss Elisa and Miss Susan hold a huge red fabric tube (loaned by Madrona – thanks!) and children line up to crawl through. As our therapeutic friends would say, it is a thorough tactile and vestibular experience. (Besides, it is great fun!)

At the table, the children tell many tales about sightings and encounters of skunks, raccoons and other woodland creatures. We also read from Blinkin’s travel log. Thanks to all of you for hosting our knitted gnome friend Blinkin as he travels home with a different child each day, and for assisting with his journal entries!

Outside, the children have established fairy houses (read "small scale construction" if you are standard-conscious) along the stone wall, with secret passwords. And a city with walls, lake, bridge and island is created in the sandbox. A swing has come
loose, so together we carry a ladder from the barn for the necessary repair.
“This is a two-man job”, says Tor as he hoists the ladder with me.

Oh, so much more happens in the course of the morning, but you get the picture of how we are settling in for the winter together.

Thanks to those who have helped with the preparations and sign-up for the Yuletide Faire. If you can’t make it to the Faire, you may find our plump wool acorns on the shelf in the mudroom for sale…perfect for Thanksgiving party favors or hostess gift!

There will be no school next week. Happy travels and family meals to all! See you again November 29th.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Family Festival for 11/11/11

Martinmas Lantern Walk
Spindlewood Families and Friends
Thursday, November 10, 4:30 – 5:15 pm

This week in the kindergarten, each child will make a paper lantern by folding and cutting one of his or her watercolor paintings. They will be ready when you arrive
for the Lantern Walk. You are welcome to bring other candle lanterns, also, but
please no flashlights!

'Martinmas', November 11, is a festival with European roots. Martin (named for Mars) was a Roman soldier of the fourth century who gave his cloak to a beggar. (This was more than an act of charity. It was considered to be an act of treason.) Later in a dream Martin saw Christ clothed in his cloak. He subsequently devoted the rest of his life to helping the poor. He was a man who carried an inner light in
a time of darkness.

This festival provides us with an opportunity to consciously mark the point in the cycle of the year when the light and warmth of the sun is retreating. The Lantern Walk allows us to experience the change of season in a sensory way.

A small bonfire and warm apple cider that we pressed at our Harvest Celebration will await families upon their arrival at the kindergarten. When all are gathered we will celebrate the circle time that the children are doing in the kindergarten. In the Waldorf School, we wait until second grade to tell stories of the saints. So our circle game presents a picture of the elemental beings whose task it is to bring cosmic light into the earth, bringing life to the seeds and light to the growth of crystals.

After the circle, parents or grandparents may light the children’s lanterns (we will provide long matches that you may wish to keep just in case a lantern needs to be rekindled) and I will lead the way along the lighted path. The walk is not long but the experience is memorable. Stepping into the darkness we are guided only by the
light of our lanterns and the luminaries placed along the pathway and the full
moon (if I remember to turn off the automatic spotlight on the barn!) We may
hear an owl, a crackling stick, or the wind. We return to find the bonfire extinguished, but the sparks of light in our lanterns creating a large circle of
warmth and community. We sing a final song, receive a ginger cookie and then
carry the lanterns with the same quiet intention to your cars and on to your

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All Souls' Day

The day after Hallowe'en the children brought in photos of their grandparents and family members who have passed away. We created a special place of honor for them on our window sill, with silks and flowers.
The puppet play this week tells the story of a brother and sister who meet their grandparents in the Land of Memory and experience their love and joy in being remembered.