Monday, 21 September 2009

The Autumnal Equinox

I am not sure if this is a crafty enough post for this site, but hope some families will enjoy the Nut & root children : )

The Autumn Equinox by Ric Kemp

Tomorrow is the Autumnal Equinox.
We are planning a fun autumn picnic, with the idea of talking about the Nut & Root Children. This is a lovely idea taken from Marsha's group. (See below)
Our cookies are made (thank you Mel!) Tomorrow we will be dipping half of each cookie in chocolate, to represent the equal hours of darkness & light of the equinox.
We will be taking them along on our picnic, along with home-made bread & butter, chunks of cheese & a thermos of hot chocolate : )

I am hoping this Equinox book will have arrived for us to read - if not, we will have it for next year ; )

The Autumn equinox and the spring equinox are the two days in the year when the hours of daylight and darkness are exactly equal.
In September as the Sun is moving southwards we refer to it as the autumnal equinox
The Sun is at its lowest path in the sky on the Winter Solstice. After that day the Sun follows a higher and higher path through the sky each day until it is in the sky for exactly 12 hours. On the Spring Equinox the Sun rises exactly in the east travels through the sky for 12 hours and sets exactly in the west. On the Equinox this is the motion of the Sun through the sky for everyone on earth. Every place on earth experiences a 12 hours day twice a year on the Spring and Autumn Equinox.
Harvest festivals are traditionally held on or near the Sunday of the Harvest Moon. This is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox (about Sept. 23). In two years out of three, the Harvest Moon comes in September, but in some years it occurs in October.

James 1:17

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Father, we thank you
For all that you have made.
You chose to create us in Your own image.
You made us stewards of Your creation,
For all that You are,
For all that You have done,
For all that You have given.
We offer our humble thanks & praise. Amen

The Nut and Root Children!

Go nutting! Yup, not go nuts, but gather your favorite children, several sturdy baskets (one packed with nut breads spread with cream cheese, tiny tomatoes and mini carrot sticks, and honey sweetened steeped peppermint tea, and head for the sure to take along the essentials for survival (matches, first aid kit, compass or GPS unit, a metal whistle, water for drinking, and a pocket knife) your is also nice to tuck in a small towel for drying feet or hands, your favorite reading aloud book for a rest time, and sunscreen).

(There is such a strong need to help children connect to nature in our current nature, we can help the children feel the living quality of the minerals and stones, as they rest on the earth, silently, the living beings who do not wander (roots fixed to the earth) and the living beings with fur or feather or scales (animals and birds) who do move about and follow the rule of Mother Earth...and really see all the complicated forms in nature, elements of the water, earth, fire and air, breathe deep in the mountains or valleys or deserts, air that is so rich with promise of new vistas and ideas.....if we can experience this feeling of being in an unplanted woods, an untended garden, a wild area, this is very very good for the health and development of the child and the of course, the adult, too. Even within most large cities, a drive of 30 minutes or less can take us into an area such as this, do find them, cultivate a knowledge of these special places, and devote your energy to bringing your children and little friends there.....)

Spend the day collecting nuts and cones. At this time of year, you can find chestnuts, walnuts, acorns, hazelnuts, hickory, and many other types, depending on where you live. Small pine or fir cones or other cones are also looked for in your the children any poisonous plants and teach them to avoid these dangerous beauties!

Keep an attitude of respect for the plants and animals, do not allow your children to tear off branches or kick away moss..........but do help them to see into the miniature world of ferns, mosses, stream beds, under roots, and behind logs.....hike around for several hours, then stop and enjoy your snack, then ask the children to rest a while and you can read aloud from your book (Wind Boy is always a favorite or the Brambly Hedge family)....what a wonderful way to spend a fall
day, outside, in the cool of the wildnerness.


Spread out your finds on a work-tarp on your table. Examine and sort all the items, identify them if you can, look at their attributes and add to them from your store of nature items.........begin to assemble some small figures, acorn heads, sunflower seed features, pine cone scales, cone bodies, small twig arms r legs, moss hair, some small dyed wool for hair, tiny noses, wings of maple 'helicopters', perhaps, and glue together. Use a clear or yellow thick wood glue if possible, and assemble a whole family. Let dry overnight........

Next Day:

Add some touchs to the little Nut and Root Children: this can be plant dyed wool felt capes or cloaks, scarf round neck, use old
felted sweaters to cut and glue on vests, slippers, berets, and more.........the personalities may begin to emerge and some children may wish to go further and glue together furniture, beds, tables, small dishes of half nutshells, and more.....a chestnut shell makes a lovely baby's bed!

Place these nature people and animals on your nature table, to enjoy and play with! What fun!

Marsha Johnson
Shining Star School
Portland, Oregon

PS, Adults like to do this, too! Invite another family along and have a grand time........roast ears of corn or sweet potatoes and
make it a regular Fall Event. I also think this event works so well for days when the working parent (often Daddy) can come, too, and can help to put together some little figures, add a root house of bark and moss, gather stones for a water garden part, and take part in the fun, too.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Wet on Wet Watercolour & Happy Accidents

For our wet on wet work this week I introduced Yellow & Red.
We started with red in the centre & I talked about how red is a bossy colour who likes to dominate & have FUN!
Then along comes Yellow! Yellow likes to play, be friendly & dance around.

I had recently had some great wisdom shared with me regarding wet on wet by a lady called Mel.
Here is what she had to say:

The purpose of the wet-on-wet method is not to create a finished product but to experience the process. To delve into the color. To learn it's nuances. What happens when I put it on heavy here? How about if I put a small bit here and keep spreading it out. How far can I take this on drop of color? Where is the light coming from in my picture? Is there warmth? Is there movement? What is it like to put the smallest bit of paint on our brush and pull it across the page? How about if we put a lot? How can we take away excess paint?

Rather than telling them NOT to paint or draw a picture, help guide them through a deeper experience. These are as much soul exercises as much as they are intellectual and physical.

Keep at it - it will happen. Watch for the shift of understanding and connection in yourself and your children.

I found this helped us today hugely! No-one (much to my great surprise!) tried to paint 'something' they just explored with the colours.

My first grader put down her brush mid-way & stated that she had had enough-she didnt like her work & wanted to start again. Hmm..
I suggested that once I was done with my own painting, I would get out new paper for her. She sat for a while & then picked up her brush again. she finished her work & was happy with it. We talked about 'happy accidents' :)

When we had finished clearing up, I noticed my painting had been splashed with water -effectively lifting some of the colour. "It is pretty, mummy" said Elianna. "A happy accident!"

Elianna's work:

Rose's Work:

My own Work:

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

A new Calendar

I i have been thinking a lot about this beautiful calendar. It comes from Toy Spectrum, but is completely out of my budget. Also, there were a couple of things that were not 'just right' for me. I wanted it to be perfect!
The original is based on Johanne Itten's 12 part colour circle 12 parts - perfect for the 12 months, but I wasnt happy with how the colours would be matched up to the months. I also wasnt happy with the choice of wooden figures that came with the calendar.
So I thought & though & decided to make my own felt version.

I think the colours correspond nicely to the months:
January: Mid blue
February: Pale blue
March: Green
April: Spring green
May: Lime green
June: Warm yellow
July: Yellow
August: Corn yellow
September: Orange
October: Red
November: Violet

I have used the rainbow as a guide & tried my best to match up the months to a seasonally appropriate colour.
Each month will have a felted object to represent it. So, as we are beginning today with September, we have a sweet little Fly Agaric.
The bowl in the centre is home to our markers - currently we are using some apple-wood buttons I had on hand. So, as today was the first week in September, a marker was placed in septembers part. We shall be doing this at the beginning of the week in future - either Sunday or monday - not sure which. I will have to see what natural place in our rhythm this takes. I am thinking possibly mondays, after breakfast. (we are late this week, as this was whipped up late last night, but it fits nicely with the first day of September)

I think this will be a lovely visual reminder for them of the passing weeks, months, seasons & years (for me too!)

Happy September!