Children’s Lent readings

Hey everyone! Happy Friday!

Today I wanted to share with you some of our favorite books that we have been enjoying as part of our spiritual care with kids. All of these books you can get on Ancient Faith Publishing as well as St. Vladimir bookstore website.

Small books about Saints from Pontamitis Publishing

I absolutely love these books. They are very small and can be taken to church. They have stories about different Saints, they also have stories about major feasts, and as of now my kids love using it as a collectors item.

A Child’s Paradise of Saints

We mainly use this book to read a saint of the month for our co-op but I have learned that these are really simple stories of saints that can be implemented in our daily Saints readings. It is great because it is short enough for children to understand the Saints life and remember it.

We Pray

I really like the simplicity of prayer in this book. It explains what we play for and what the different prayers of the church are. I like to take it to church with us to explain what the prayers mean. It’s simple and gentle way to explain prayer for a child.

From I-Ville to You-Ville

This book is a chapter book that we are really enjoying so far. It is a story about a boy that lives in I-Ville full of different vices as peoples names. He goes to You-Ville when he meets a girl that lives there and she explains to him how people live in You-Ville and explains the different virtues as people. We absolutely love this book. I highly recommend this one if your child is able to listen to chapter books.

The Prologue by St. Nikolai

This book is my personal favorite for everyday reading. It has everything for the day that you need. Saints lives for the day, a contemplation, a reflection, and a homily. Depends on the day I either read all of them or I just read the contemplation or I just read the homily or reflection. This is great for busy moms and also a way to read one Saint with your children.

I hope you this list has been useful. Please let me know in the comments below what your favorite books have been this Lent?

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St. John of the Ladder

This Sunday in the Orthodox Church we celebrate St. John of the Ladder. He is a great saint of the church and during this time of Lent it is helpful for adults mainly to remember “steps” to heaven. How to explain this to kids?

Well the first thing to do is actually show the icon of the Ladder of Divine Ascent to the children. It is easy to find online if you do not have it at home. There are steps in the ladder you can bring your children’s attention to and y’all about stools for example or a bunk bed ladder. Talk to the child about how ladders or steps help us get somewhere such as a top bunk or a stool can help you reach for things. Well in the icon it is the same thing since all the people are trying to get to heaven. But sure enough there are the bad guys all trying to get these people off the ladder. You can talk to the children about what can we do as steps to get closer to our goal which is heaven. Here are some ideas our kiddos came up with:

  • Do not be angry
  • Pray
  • Be nice
  • Share
  • Take turns
  • Take a deep breath and count to 4
  • No yelling
  • Go to church

Then talk to the children about the Cross and how powerful it is. How those pesky demons do not like the Cross and how they will get scared away and we can keep climbing.

Afterwards, have the children make their own ladder in their notebooks and then glue on people that are climbing the ladder. You can make the sun at the top with other bright colors or a picture of Jesus. Just some relation to the climb with getting to heaven.

A thought about Waldorf

Greetings homeschoolers!

I wanted to share some thought out there about Waldorf education. Recently I have been rethinking schooling for my boys and found myself extremely overwhelmed about homeschooling using the Waldorf method, especially with multiple grades. I know there is a lot of posts out there about this type of thing in the Waldorf world, how you really should combine things if you can and on and on and on those I am sure you can find on your own time. While the idea of Waldorf education and its beauty really appeals to me, I am or wondering if the stress of it is even worth it. I find myself constantly thinking if I can teach 3 main lessons a day and handwork and music and language and do laundry and make meals and get outside time. Does that sound like a lot? Why yes it does… hence this post.

Where will school be like then you ask? Well… I was just thinking about teaching them the basics of math, reading, foreign language and spelling, then leaving room for their own interests of study in a sort of an unschooling way. There are things like nutrition I would like them to know and I just recently started feeling really bad to saying “no you can’t learn this yet” to my middle son when he was interested what his older brother was learning. In the Waldorf method, people would say it goes with the child’s development and we should guard them… something like that… but in the end I think my kids will be ok.

Now all this is just an idea and it is getting towards the end of the year here with homeschooling when you feel a bit crazy from the stress of winter. I will honestly re-evaluate all this in September when we have to start a new school year. For now, I wanted to throw this out there into the blogging world and get some thoughts back.

Anyone out there doing Waldorf? Do you really think it’s worth it to do multiple main lessons a day for multiple grades? Honestly.

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.

Homeschooling: Sugar cookies, modeling and apples

Happy Fall everyone! We definitely felt it this week in the weather change when it started to finally be in the 60’s here in NY. Our week was filled with many adventures. We are taking advantage of our last year here in seminary and went apple picking for the first time. It felt really nice to create those memories with the family and the days could not have been better for that event. Now the question is… what am I supposed to do with all these apples?

For our projects this week in handwork we did a lot of modeling. Here on campus they had an event that gave us an opportunity to model even more. I see myself really needing to control my own wants over my kids to try to see them accomplish something with the clay. This is my biggest struggle since I tend to want to see a result as if it accomplishes a check mark off my own to do list in homeschooling. Gradually though I am learning to let go. This weeks recipe called for sugar cookies, which we made and has lots of fun putting them into animal shapes that went with the forest party theme in the story of Waldorf Essentials. I am noticing that Mr. 4 is not really that interested in the story content maybe because I myself am not enthusiastic when telling it. I am still thinking weather or not to continue with the same story or move to something he would be enthusiastic about, like using a story from the “Tell me a Story” Waldorf book that has many children’s stories in it. If anyone has struggled with this, I would love to hear how you handled it.

It was my turn to teach co-op this week and this was our last week with the days of the week. For Saturday, I focused on the story of St. Theodore and his koliva dream. I had the children use playsilks and do a short play of the story which they really enjoyed. I had a fun time being a kid myself and playing along with the story to inspire them to act out their part. I love seeing little kids eyes light up as the imagination expands. It’s almost like seeing something magical. We finished off with a craft of koliva for Saturday, with an explanation of why it’s sweet and how it is used to pray for the departed.

There was a lot of self work on my part this week with teaching and homeschooling and events so I had to dive inwards a lot. This time of year with the leafs changing and falling down I am reminded of winter coming and that inward work that goes with seasons.

Homeschooling: Painting, baking and storytelling

This week in homeschooling was a bit rough for us I must admit. It was hard to get my kiddos into the Woody, Hazel and Lil Pip story and also we did not have things we can dye together for handwork. I love the story and was looking forward to this part but it did not really speak to Mr. 4 at this time. We had an extra day of school this week cause my hubby is out of town so we decided to redeem the whole week by shortening the story and acting it out instead of reading it. We also used a different recipe this week since we had so much bread left over from last week. We made banana and blueberry bread, paleo style, since my husband needs to have a diet change due to his energy levels being so low. For our extra school day we ended up having a second day of baking and just doing cookies which worked out wonderful with the party at the end of the story. What to do but adjust. This is why homeschooling is great.

Overall, it was one of those… mama is going to be a better mama if we do less type of week. This NY strange fall weather, too much going on in community, added to stress energy for myself and my kids. In times like these I like to brush it off and just move on. No use in feeling guilty for not accomplishing certain tasks or not having enthusiastic boys for circle time. It is easy to do here in seminary, since majority of moms homeschool and the other half have their kids in public school. Different learning styles are always discussed and sticking to my own gut has been exhausting on its own.

For our Russian, we are moving on slowly but surely. The boys are getting it and I am happy to have them speaking it a little. Below is my awesome artistic abilities of stick figures. I am learning that consistency is key when teaching a foreign language.

Finally, for our tinkergarden activity we presented a sheet the kiddos can tinker with after reading the book “Not a Stick”. This was a beautiful experience, seeing the kids have so much fun and their imaginations just go with making a sheet into a dragon, fort, a popcorn maker, just to name a few things. I really enjoyed watching them.

At the end of it all, with weather still in the 80’s for now (eekk what will winter bring?!) all we can do is enjoy the sun and run barefoot through the grass still and on occasion even put our feet up.

Hope your own homeschooling journey was a success this week. I would love to hear about it.

Homeschooling week

Happy Friday! Hope your homeschooling journey was a success this week. We had a great time this week baking and making crowns that goes with our story. I wanted to share the recipe with you this week since we substituted it with the one in the curriculum.

Carrot raisin bread

Dry ingredients:

1 1/2 cup flour

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 salt

1 cup sugar

Wet ingredients:

3 eggs

3 tbs molasses

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup oil (I used olive oil)

1/4 cup pineapple

1 cup raisins

1 cup shredded carrots

3/4 cup walnuts

Preheat oven 350 F and prepare bread pans. Mix all the dry ingredients together and set aside then mix wet ingredients in a different bowl. Combine the mix from 2 bowls into one. Spread the mix evenly between two bread pans and put in oven to cook for 60 min, use a toothpick to test the middle. Your kitchen will smell so nice! This was a winner with all the boys (husband included) although cooking is a messy process it is worth it to see the excitement on the boys faces after it is done cooking and they taste their creation.

For our co-op the kids continued to learn days of the week with Tuesday for St. John the Baptist.

Oh forerunner oh baptizer

Holy St. John, pray for us

You lived in the wilderness

You baptized the master

Help us follow him too

Help us follow him too

Holy St. John pray for us

That is the song we taught the children and they made a beautiful Tuesday page with a river and the Holy Spirit coming down.

Handwork

This week we made leaf crown and they boys loved it. We also flew our kites from last week since the breeze cooperated with us. It was so much fun to them running around with crowns pretending to be kings of the forest and flying their kites. For my handwork I am working on a dragon peg doll for next weeks story and have it almost done.

This week with friends we did a tinkergarden activity with balancing gnomes and the children had to figure out how to use a stick to balance the gnomes on the other side. It was lots of creativity, working together, and critical thinking involved. This builds good social skills for the kids and I enjoyed seeing all the kids actually working together and not fighting battle against each other. You can also do tinkergarden activities with your kids or group they have a website http://www.tinkergarden.com for ideas and their philosophy.

What was your highs and lows on your journey this week?

Exaltation of the Cross

Orthodox Christians celebrate the cross 3 times a year and tomorrow is one of those times. For our feast lesson we used the Garden of the Theotokos curriculum and made our own wooden crosses.

Added circle time song:

Before thy cross we bow down in worship oh master

And thy holy resurrection, we glorify.

For the lesson we talked about the resurrection icon and how the cross is really not a bad thing. I related the demons to bad guys and Hades to jail to make more of an image for them. We looked at the icon together and saw how Christ is pulling people out of this jail place and they are holding onto him to get out.

Since during the service we see red for the cross we changed our cloth to red and then made wooden crosses to process with while we sing our song for the cross. The wooden crosses are super easy to make. All you need is wooden dowels from your local craft store, hot glue them together and then paint them.

We also used string to tie the middle part together since it was a fun handwork thing for the boys to do. We chose red for the color and tried to mix it with orange for fall colors but it mainly just turned to red. This was a fun process and I will share with you how we tied it into our school story from the Waldorf Essentials curriculum later this week.

DIY fall mobile

Part of our handwork this week was making a fall mobile and I thought I’d share with you this easy way to do this craft.

What you need:

  • Colorful leaves (we collected ours on our nature walks)
  • A stick
  • Ribbon
  • String (we used floss)
  • Pine cones
  • Beeswax

How to do it:

  1. Melt the beeswax
  2. Lay all the leaves in wax paper or aluminum foil
  3. Once beeswax is melted dip each leaf and lay them back down to dry (this preserves the leaves)
  4. Get string ready
  5. Tie each leaf on as you’d like finishing with a pine cone on the bottom for weight
  6. Tie another string on top of the stick one end to each side
  7. Find a great place to display your craft!

This was fun to do with kids because they got to pick the stick and leaves and pine cones so everyday was a treasure hunt looking for our items when we went outdoors. Next weeks handwork kites!