Homeschool Fall 2013

 Planning this year’s homeschool. This year both Rhiannon (17) and Morgan Finn (12) have decided to do public school, so I’m down to three children at home – Méabh (4); Wolfie (7): and Archer (15).

 Méabh is way to young for any formal schooling. I would like to get her some language resources for her special needs.

  Wolfie is ready for homeschool Waldorf kindergarten. So delightful. I have all the Oak Meadow curriculum so we’ll be using that (although I frequently fantasize about buying Live Ed!).
Alphabet stories
form drawing
book making
shoe tying
outside time

  I am excited to do high school with Archer. He’ll be using compass on line for core subjects, and we’ll be adding some of our own. I really enjoy working with my highschoolers because I learn along with them!
Compass (on line)
To Kill A Mockingbird

  What are your homeschool plans?

Renaissance Biographies

  Today we began a Waldorf homeschool unit on Renaissance Biographies. I am new to this lesson and will post what I do along the way. Here are some of the resources I am using:

Live Ed! Renaissance Biographies

This website recommended these books:

And some Netflix movies!

 Today we did a recap discussion of the crusades influence on the Renaissance. Also we talked about the Medici family (I need to recheck the beautiful book about them from my local library….). I hope to cover da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo. Maybe Botticelli, because I love him.

 We watched a Netflix movie about Leonardo da Vinci. ( I had planned to wait a few days on this…) We got into a really great talk about what his religion and sexual orientation was.

  Finally we looked at this website and the boys drew/painted a picture of Il Duomo in their main lesson books.

    Have you done a junior high type unit like this? I’d love to hear about it!

Silk Dying Tutorial

  This week my family hosted a Waldorf inspired silk dying day. We used Kool Aid to dye the silk. It was really fun and worked surprisingly well!

 Here’s how to do it:

We ordered bolts of silk from Dharma Trading Co.

First, soak your silk in equal parts hot water and white vinegar.

While it is soaking, prepare your dye bath:
3 Kool Aid packets
2 cups hot water
2 cups vinegar

The kool-aids we used were cherry, grape, orange, lemonade, lemon – lime, and blue raspberry.

Put your silk in the dye bath and stir for two minutes. You might want to wear gloves and aprons. It’s really cool to watch the silk absorb the color and the water turn clear.

Rinse the silk in cool water until the water runs clear.

Hang your silk to dry.

We got very creative making rainbow play cloths.

And tie dyes.

And bellydance veils.

My boys made juggling cloths.

Some folks dyed yarn.

It’s beautiful to watch my fairy girl dancing with her silks.
These sites were inspirational:
And now I want to make these butterfly wings:

Homemade Paper Bag Ostara Baskets

  15 years ago, my children, grandmother and I made a basket from paper bags.  I still have this basket; it has survived floods, toddlers, and blizzards.  I was going through our house, looking for baskets for our upcoming Waldorf home school day.  I realized that this paper bag basket would be a great basket to grow wheat grass in.  It would also be an appropriate Brigid activity because of the weaving.

This is my first tutorial, so follow along carefully, but use your own intellect and experience as we go.

Here’s how they are made:
You will need

nine paper grocery bags ( I use Aldi bags, of course!)

a yard stick or ruler
a pair of scissors
a sturdy stapler

Cut twelve pieces of paper bag paper 20″x16″

and cut another six pieces 28″x16″

That’s 18 all together!

Fold them as if you are folding double fold bias tape:

Fold them to the middle, then unfold.

Then fold the edges to the middle

then again fold to the middle

then again in half. They will measure approximately 1 ” wide

Rub them over a counter to make really sharp folds.

Choose one of the longer strips to be the top edge.

Evenly space 12 of the 20″ strips from the top edge and staple them in place.

(This also looks like a hula skirt!)

Fold 6 of those strips to the opposite side and staple them.

Then begin weaving in the remaining 6 strips, as if you are making a lattice pie crust, and staple them to the opposite side.

Now weave four of the last strips around the width of the basket from the bottom up. Overlap their edges and staple them to themselves. if possible, hide the staples under the horizontal strips.

Your basket should now appear mostly done.

 Use the last strip to cover the top heavily stapled strip and glue it in place.

If you would like a handle, you could punch a hole and sew or use a  manilla envelope fastener. You could also make a handle by making one of the strips as long as possible and weaving it all the way through.

My basket looked especially good today, since it was holding all the finished wedding invitations!

Wednesdays Waldorf- Inspired Homeschool day is looking very fun.

Homeschool Monday

  I have been homeschooling for 20 years. I knew I would homeschool my kids since I was in junior high. I thought I would never allow my kids to go to school at all. Of course, my oldest had a personality as strong as mine and did get to school for a few years, which set the stage for her younger siblings. So far, Tabitha went to school her junior and senior year of high school, graduated, and went on to college in Missouri. She is becoming an art teacher (which makes sense seeing as she was reared in a home that spent every spare penny on art supplies.) Rowan tried high school his sophomore year, then at 16 went straight to college. He is becoming a vet! Rhiannon is in her second year of high school, but often misses homeschooling. We’ll see where her path goes.
  At home right now are Méabh (1), Wolfie (4), Morgan Finn (10) and Archer (12). Only the oldest two are actively homeschooling. I try to avoid teaching the little ones, better to keep that magical world of play as long as possible. But it is difficult, they pick up on what the older kids are doing. I think it is important not to teach reading until after children are seven years old. I followed this rule with my older kids, and they all LOVE reading for pleasure now. Just as they learn to walk and talk on their own, so will they learn reading. Gently explain this to your loved ones. Eventually your children will serve as examples as mine have.
  Here is a reprint of an article I wrote in 2008 (!) for the Muscatine homeschooler’s newsletter:

Homeschool Lessons

   Thu, January 24, 2008 – 10:02 PM

“It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of education have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.” Albert Einstein

When I began homeschooling (17 years ago) I was sure I would create geniuses. Geography and spelling bee champions. College graduates by the age of 18. Now I realize I am raising normal people. People free from the pressures of school and society. This has been a great revelation for me.
I have also learned two other important lessons that I want to pass on; the need to deflect negative comments from others and to relax.
Do not let the negative comments of othersbring you down. Remember that when people are critical it is because they feel threatened – if homeschooling is best, then their kids are getting second or third best. Just reassure these folks that you are doing what is best for YOUR family. Then surround yourself with supportivefriends, like your local homeschool group.
We sometimes want to keep up with the Jones’. When little 10 year old Tommy next door can rattle off the names of all the U.S. Presidents, we want that too! “What if my kid gets left behind?” Remember, you homeschool so that your children DON’T have to endure forced learning. It’s OK! My children played in the snow for 4 hours today. Now that’s education!
Play is THE most important work in a child’s life. (Play does not include television, video games or the internet.) I would never interrupt imaginative play for a lesson or teaching moment.
Which leads me to: relax! What good is stressing about teaching colors and shapes to a preschooler? Have you ever met any adult who didn’t know their colors? They are learned, like walking and talking, in the context of life.
Reading is similar.So many parents are making themselves crazy and overly stressing their children with this. My children have all shown an interest in reading around age 9, then learn quickly and easily, going on to pass their peers in both reading skills and love of literature.
So maybe my kids aren’t totally normal.They are beautiful, super confident and free thinking.And it has nothing to do withany curriculum I stick to, and everything to do with allowing them to develop in their own way and time.

Recommended Resources:

Growing Without Schooling and John Holt

Home Education Magazine

Sudbury education

Waldorf education…htm

Oak Meadow Curriculum

Evolution’s End by Joseph Chilton Pierce
(available at

The Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewllyn

  I enjoy Waldorf inspired homeschooling. This year I have a 4th and 7th grader. Here are some photos from their main lesson books:

Norse myths:

Form drawing:

Map making:

And I am very excited to begin our Live Ed unit on Beowolf:

What are you doing in your homeschooling?