Lesson for Orthodox Sunday

Alright everyone I thought I would share a short lesson about Orthodox Sunday that is coming up. Since Lent has started we have changed our alter cloth to purple. This goes in sync with the priest vestments in church. And now with Orthodox Sunday coming up here is a way to have a small activity of play to do in order for those little minds to get the “Lent journey” concept.

Start off by pretending to get in a boat. Have the icons at the end of the room. We are using each child’s patron saint and an icon of Christ. The “boat” is in the middle and ask the children/child to get on the boat and see what we need to do in order to get to the icons. How do we steer the boat? Who’s going to be the leader? Who is going to steer the sail? How are we going to work together to get to Pascha aka the land of Paradise?

After the time of pretend play for the kids have a short story about this time of Lent and how the boat is the church. We all need a leader who is the priest and we all need to work together and “row” and make it to the land of Paradise. This opens up a good discussion with kids regarding church. How can everyone work together? What does it mean to work together with our neighbors and friends during Lent? By prayers? Fasting? What does that look like in a family?

Talk about the icons that the boat is going towards. What do icons mean in the church and why do we have a patron saint? What qualities do the saints have that make them close to Christ?

Just some thoughts.

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Homeschooling: February

Greetings everyone!

Our homeschooling journey this week took us to some artistic places. I didn’t mean to focus on art really this week as it started out with candle making but then later progressed into just painting and making lots of doodling. Here in NYC we took advantage of the MET museum and it’s beautiful works of art! We saw the Michelangelo exhibit there and it was one of those experiences in life I won’t forget. Even though Michelangelo’s sketches and paintings were beautiful I must still say my favorite was the Monet.

Candle dipping result below

It was rougher weather here in NY these days which make me look forward to spring a lot more. Recently I read a book titled “How Children Learn” by John Holt and it was so insightful into the mind of a child. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend this book to anyone that’s looking into homeschooling. From reading this book I am noticing a lot of things about myself that I do to try to push what I guess you can call my own agenda on learning even in our homeschooling setting. It is hard to do. These constant comparisons between kids and who’s kid is reading and writing and who’s kid has more music lessons and knowledge about whatever topic is a hard conversation to be a part of among women. Especially when I am going against the grain here and delaying formal education.

With the bad weather here there was lots of chances for games in the house, lots of boys energy bursts and lots of fighting. We do have some epic LEGO creations going here though. Hope your week was good! Lent is almost here! Meatfare Sunday is tomorrow!

Painting with blue this week

Finally got Stockmar block crayons

Russian picture chalkboard update

Messy messy paint day

LEGO fun

Being thankful for the sun at least

Homeschooling: Mud

Oh what to do in this New York winter? Go outside and play in the mud! Let me just say that it is hard to get kids all geared up and go outside in the cold. It makes me want to give up every day. My only motivation is the fact that all these seminary walls close in on me more and more if I stay inside all day. So my boys found some mud and it seems to be the place they want to play all the time. Yes they get SUPER dirty… but it is worth it for me to see them so happy to experiment with it. We have been going on a lot of walks in this cold as another outing. Looking at birds nests and looking for ice is a great adventure. Once in a while we will come across interesting animal tracks and try to guess the animal and where they were going. Sometimes it turns into story time about the animal tracks and the animal associated with it.

For Waldorf kindergarten this week we continued our Waldorf Essentials curriculum. This week was making stars. What we decided to do was have a painting day and use those as our window star paper later in the week. They turned out really nice and Mr. 4 has fun cutting and folding the star shapes.

We also did some baking using coconut flour. I have a hard time with this flour since I feel like it has a weird texture but have a ton of it so it’s a constant coconut flour experiment at my house. This muffin project was a fail. I honestly didn’t even think to take a picture since it all burned and crumbled. We still ate it but it was like eating crumbled bread. My kids did not complain which is an up. What was our moral of the lesson? Sometimes things burn when you bake it boy. Sorry mama tried.

Getting through our Russian with more and more vocabulary everyday. My next goal is to get a story for kids in Russian and try to actually incorporate those words into their rotation. Yes they do not like it so much but not to sound like a total mom but… they will thank me later.

Hope everyone is still going strong in their homeschooling journey. We are gearing up for Lent here with this Sunday the reading of the Publican and the Pharisee. I will post about that lesson later.

Zaccheus Sunday

Greetings friends!

This week I wanted to introduce the catechism lesson I am doing with my kiddos in order to prepare for Lent. In the Orthodox Church we have several Sundays leading up to Lent which we read specific scriptures that help prepare our hearts for the Lent journey ahead of us. This Sunday is the Sunday of Zaccheus. You find his story in Luke 19. As many know he is the tax collector that looks at Jesus by climbing a tree. So the lesson that I am getting is from the Garden of the Theotokos curriculum, from their unit study book.

How I plan on introducing this lesson to my kids is to first read the story and ask them questions to see what they would talk to Jesus about it they invited him to their house. Next, it suggest to talk to the kids about the word “desire” and how the main purpose of this story is to start asking God to plant a desire in our own hearts for us to know God more. I think I am going to talk about bad/good concept with this story as well since Zaccheus was a not so liked tax collector of his time. There was a change in his heart when he heard about Jesus and that change brought on the desire to see him.

I was thinking about doing a separate Main Lesson book for Lent this year also to include all the art work in one book but have yet to decide on that. The above picture is what we are going for in the art portion of the lesson.

I hope this gives some of you ideas for Zaccheus Sunday and hope it opens up to discussion with your kiddos about desire for Christ.

Homeschooling wrap up

It snowed! We are so excited that it snowed before we leave for our vacation. Homeschooling this week was an easy one. We had a blast celebrating St. Nicholas feast day and did some modeling with clay correspondent with our story.

Mr. 4 is doing an awesome job using clay and forming it to what he wants. We also drew with block crayons this week. Still no recipe for us this week with the fast in full swing so we are continuing just the little ones helping me cooking.

I am reading so many posts about the frenzy holiday season and how to take care of yourself. I feel like this is vital to homeschooling mothers. There are expectations from us from our family and sometimes we forget to take care of the person that holds it all together … you. We hold so much weight as mothers and taking realistic time for ourselves is a must. Whatever that looks like for you on a realistic level I hope you take the time this season for yourself.

This year of homeschooling has been such a blessing to me. I hope it was the same for you. I will be taking a holiday break here myself. Merry Christmas everyone! Looking forward to 2018!

Homeschooling week

Greetings homeschooling world!

I am so excited to finish up this first semester here in seminary and also with our homeschooling before the holiday break. This past week we decided to continue with our waldorf story book using the story about the birds and changing seasons. It tied wonderfully with our weather here outside and all the birds coming to our bird feeder recently.

We continued to model and Mr. 4 is getting really good at beeswax and molding things into something his mind created. It’s really beautiful to see the transformation of the will in a child. We made a little cardinal from felt as well by using a Pinterest idea I saw with felt birds. Mr. 4 helped me stuff the bird and tried his hand at weaving during the process. I noticed he’s enjoying the process of actually retelling the story using the props we created and plays way more afterwards. We have not really be baking recently because of Orthodox Nativity fast but everyone has been super excited about helping in the kitchen so I allow them to help me with regular fasting meals while I cook. The dinner table presents a lot of questions about where things come from and it’s nice to discuss after they see the food that’s being put into their meal.

This week we also did another tinkergarden activity using left over play dough with the kids looking for nature treasures to put into their play dough. It’s getting colder here in NY so it’s nice to have an activity for the kiddos when we go outside since they tend to just want to go back inside if we do not. It seems like the community is wanting their kids to be outside more this winter in comparison to our first two years so it is nice that we are not the only ones that feel like fresh air is benefiting for kids. We also had a few birthday celebrations here which we celebrated outside!

The end off Fall has been so beautiful as always. I will sure miss this if we get placed somewhere without seasons.

Next week is St. Nicholas feast day! What will you be doing?

Catechism for children

Hello friends! Today I wanted to share with you a little more about the Garden of the Theotokos curriculum and catechism for children. It has been really hard for me to incorporate catechism for my boys as part of my homeschooling, mainly because I feel there is so little time to get everything done. The church is such a part of our lives since we are in seminary, I always feel like I do not need to do much since the boys are living it everyday with their father being a priest. However, recently I was watching a YouTube channel of a homeschooling mom of 8 that is a Christian and got really inspired by her teaching and reading the Bible with her kids everyday and memorizing verses. Reading the Bible has been a big problem for me, simply said I do not do it often even though the Church provides daily reading schedule for us that are not that long. So this week I decided to start reading the Bible with my kids to at least start talking about Christ and who he was.

The Garden of Theotokos curriculum provides a really great way to introduce certain concepts. For example, the kiddos are still going over the days of creation and are on day 3. It seems like the kids are actually getting it and are enjoying the a Waldorf style of learning with this curriculum. I have also been trying to do the Sunday gospel reading lessons with my oldest son getting the lessons from the Antiochian archdiocese website and just doing the lesson with him separately. Since we are in seminary I feel like there is no consistency with Sunday school, we do not have a consistent parish we go to so this is hard, so I felt like it was up to me to have them learn about the gospel readings and this was the easiest way.

I like the little added activities attached to the gospel reading and questions they have according to the level of the child. For example, this weeks reading was about the man that stored up treasure on earth in Luke 15, the activity for kids was to take some toys and explain it as stuff and then do a small game trying to discern between scenarios if it is a treasure in heaven or earth.

Overall, this has been an interesting experiment but I do see more of a discussion in my house about Christ now. I am curious about what others are doing in terms of catechism for their kids? Maybe there is a great curriculum out there I am missing. Let me know in the comments below!

Homeschooling: Baking, modeling and nature

Hey everyone!

How was your homeschooling week? Our own Waldorf journey is taking an interesting turn. We have gone away from the Waldorf Essentials curriculum we have been using and have just started using a waldorf storybook we have for our stories. This week in honor of St. Martin’s day on the 11th and lantern making week with our co-op, we chose the Fiochetto Bianco story in “Tell me a Story.”

I️ made the shepherd boy from clay and found some inspiration from a YouTube channel on a different way to tell the story. I️ tried a lot with the storytelling process of Waldorf. I️ used to read the stories since I’m a terrible storyteller, then I️ tried to tell the story from memory which I️ did a terrible job at since I️ kept forgetting parts of the story, now I️ semi remember the story and I️ have Mr. 4 help me move the character pieces while I️ retell the story. I️ am curious to find out what everyone else does in terms of homeschooling and storytelling?

Everyone came together and made lanterns for our lantern walk. The boys had so much fun with this and I can’t wait to see them walking and singing the songs for this season.

These chilly days and nights remind me that the time for inward silence is coming. Slowly the children start staying more inside and the community starts to have their own rhythms of limited outside time and indoor activities. I️ still take the boys out everyday because I️ really feel the walls closing in if I️ don’t and on top of that a small apartment full of boys looks like a huge tornado constantly runs through the house. On top of that we see and discover such beautiful things all the time around us like a family of swans in the lake and beautiful clouds we make us stories to.

This is going to be the last month of us homeschooling. We might do only one week in December since we are going back to California for the winter break from seminary. Next week I️ think I️ am still going to continue with the story book and do a Thanksgiving story since Thanksgiving week my husband has off from school. I️ am so excited for a break this year. Last year in seminary is filled with just counting down the days until Lent and then just waiting for placement. It will be nice to live a real life for a month and go to the beach while in NY everyone is in 30 degreeweather :o)

Homeschooling week: Bread making, modeling and block crayons

Hello everyone! I hope your week was fruitful. This week we decided to go with my gut and try something new for homeschooling. I used a story from the Wynstone Press the Autumn collection with the Autumn Story. We substituted the hedgehog in the story for a mouse and based our weekly handwork around that story.

This approach worked out really well surprisingly. I had doubts about it since in Waldorf Essentials curriculum has this continuation story which at first I thought Mr. 4 will really follow since it’s the same character that keeps showing up but like I said in my previous posts it really didn’t speak to him, hence me trying something different. I just see it as homeschooling freedom since that is part of the beauty and flexibility of homeschooling your kids.

For our handwork this week we collected acorn hats and then used beeswax to make little acorns to put into them. We used the acorns in our story set up. I also decided to try a new rhythm with our school time to see if there is more of a flow. Before we used to do circle time then the story and then our activity but this week we did the story after our activity. This approach left a little more wiggle room for playing with the material after, it seemed to work out great also while I cleaned the mess from our bread baking day. Yes mixing flour and cutting apples is a messy experience. For those that have tried it as part of their Waldorf homeschooling and keep going with baking I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Sometimes I find it takes a lot more perseverance to keep baking more than any other activity in homeschooling.

We also tried our hand at block crayons this week. I will continue to see how Mr. 4 likes this since he’s not really into the following my lead stage quite yet. He still really just wants to not make any forms that look like anything specific and I don’t want to push that on him, so we will see.

The rest of our week was spent exploring the forests and hiking trails of Cranberry Lake Preserve here in NY. The weather was beautiful and fall is always a season where you can treat each day as if it’s new because of the constant change in color all around. I will miss this part of NY when we leave here because it is honestly really beautiful to experience seasons. My sons love climbing trees and looking for great sticks and rocks. It is truly beautiful to see them connect with nature in this way. The same scenery outside looks different every day. That’s why some New Yorkers say that in fall they treat each day as their last.

That was our week of discovery and adventure. I hope you are doing well on your homeschooling journey so far.

Homeschooling: Painting, cooking and tinkergarden

Happy Friday everyone! I hope your week was fruitful. Our week was full of some painting and then we used a recipe of our own for an apple crisp paleo style pie. For our handwork this week we made our own boats, this was a fun handwork experience and next week our plan is to set them in our local creek here on seminary ground.

This week I did tweek the story a little bit and also have to modify it next week since we somehow landed a week ahead of schedule. I started my own handwork project this week with attempting to knit a lion toy for the first time. I am using the book “Beginning knitting projects for children” because I figured I have to know how to do the project myself before I attempt to teach it to my 1st grader. I realized that I really am not a follow reading instructions person. I tend to fall into the whole visual learning style and kind of finding it difficult to even know what the book means by statements like cast on 10 rows, knit for 10 rows and then at the beginning of the next 2 rows cast on 10 stitches. Whhhaattt?? Confused already and trying to watch YouTube videos for guidance. If you happen to have a good link for a knitting video please send me a link!

The rest of our work week consisted of a birthday party. It was tinkergarden theme. For those not aware of tinkergarden activities head over and check out their website that is full of outdoor activity fun for kids. This week we made our magic potion, learned about colors and following directions and also had a magic show for the birthday boy by one of our kids here.

The weather is on our side so far. Everyone is sucking up all the sunshine and warmth while they can. I tend to find myself thinking of my own handwork ideas rather than using Waldorf Essentials curriculum stuff a lot. Most of the reason is because I am a visual learner. I also find it hard to just want to do crafty things if my boys are not that into the story. The boats were good this week but I did not see handwork for next week they would like. Maybe that’s just my experience, so that’s the only thing I have a hard time with. I hear Lavender Blue curriculum has mainly handwork for every week not really recipes. If someone has experience in that curriculum please share your thoughts with me.

Overall though that is what we did this week with the curriculum. I hope everyone’s weekend is relaxed before the costume making frenzy begins before Halloween.