Lasting Bonds

Recently, our school director Ms. Neale shared these sweet photos of her daughters’ “wee ones,” Sunbeam and Moonbeam, sitting together in her garden on a sunny summer morning. Kindergarten parents make these small fabric dolls for their children, which are magically delivered by fairy mother to kindergartners throughout the year.

Ms. Neale’s daughters graduated from our school eight years ago, but her daughters’ wee ones still live at home.

This is one very small illustration of the way Waldorf education touches the whole family, creating memories and experiences that bond us to our children and last for decades. Thanks for sharing, Ms. Neale!

MWS Recommends: Resources for Parents

Since our campus closed in mid-March, our families have been sharing resources with one another. Following are a few of our favorite resources for parents.

MWS favorite Kim John Payne, author of Simplicity Parenting, has many excellent podcast episodes related to parenting during the global pandemic and stay-at-home order, including “Loving Limits and Discipline During the Intensity of Family Time.”

Greater Good in Education, from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, offers a wealth of resources and ideas for parents and educators to help navigate the COVID-19 shelter-at-home including activities, podcasts, videos, and practices.

You can also check out the center’s online Greater Good Magazine for articles and advice, including this lovely little post “Six Daily Questions to Ask Yourself in Quarantine.”

Are you in need of some extra support? Parents Place, a part of the Jewish Family and Children’s Services, is offering a wide range of resources for families during the Coronavirus shelter-at-home order, including free and paid online workshops, remote counseling, a blog with advice and information, and videos for parents.

For Zoomed-out families, here is a very good article, “10 Ways to Protect the Brain from Daily Screen Time,” by Victoria L. Dunckley M.D. in Psychology Today about mitigating the effects of screens and WiFi at home.

Concerned about electromagnetic waves at home?
Here’s a parent-recommended article, “How to Set Up a Safe Computer Workstation For Your Child During COVID-19” from Environmental Health Trust.

Just for fun: first grade mom Anouk told us to check out the homemade re-creations of famous artworks throughout the world by following the hashtag #betweenartandquarantine. (Read about how the movement took off here.)

MWS Recommends: Activities at Home

Since our school closed in March, our families have been sharing resources with each other in our weekly newsletter and through word of mouth. Here is a roundup of some of our favorite activities and recommendation for children at home… and please send more if you have them!

“The Great Pause” — A Tale for Young Children
Once upon a time, in a land far away, but not too far away, in a time long ago, but not too long ago, there was a lovely little kingdom of very hard workers. This kingdom was built up of four villages, each ruled by a wise and kind Queen…
Click here to read the rest of the story on the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) website.

You can join the Marin County Free Library online then borrow from their huge selection of e-books and audiobooks at home.

During the closures, the Marin County Free Library has started recording their weekly story times for young children.
Click here to hear more about online story time or to check out the many crafts and activities the library recommends.

Audible is also offering free audiobooks while schools are closed.

Founded by preschool mom Heidi, Blue Dot Kids Press is a small press that publishes stories that connect us to each other and the Earth. Click here to check out their beautiful offerings.

A MWS kindergarten family recommends family-friendly martial arts with Oakland-based Peter Ajemian. He leads daily workouts for adults, and three weekly kids classes on Zoom. More info on Soja’s website.

MWS families recommend Quarantine Clay Club with Petaluma Pottery! Clay kits (for pickup), online tutorials, and more. Click here for more information about their programs.

The Metropolitan Opera in New York City is sharing free nightly live streams of their operas, which remain available to watch throughout the following day. Click here to watch the most recent performance.

Keeping it local, San Francisco Opera is also offering free streaming of their performances on their website, as well as steams of previous performances.

America’s test Kitchen Kids: Downloadable and printable recipes, as well as food-based activities, like salt painting.

Mapbox created a printable map coloring book to use at home, with instructions on how to download software and create your own color-able map. Click here to download the maps or create your own.

Kindergarten Circle: A Visit to the Farm (with French Songs!)

Our Hollyhock kindergarten teacher, Nicole, weaves a new story into her morning circle each week, drawing in the children’s attention as they say good morning to each other and learn new songs and full-body movements to accompany the tale.

Since our campus close in March, Nicole has shared a morning circle with Hollyhock families every week. In this charming circle, she leads the children on a visit to the farm with her assistant teacher Jennifer. This circle includes two songs in French, which a kindergartner can pick up and repeat easily, even if they don’t understand the language!

In addition to building a warm classroom community each morning, the morning circle is a time for kindergartners to learn by listening and repeating, to develop balance and motor skills by following the teacher’s movements, and to use their imaginations in stories and songs. In some circles, Nicole introduces tongue twisters, bean bag tossing, and partner games.

Families can listen to this circle at home and make up their own movements as the children greet the little chickens and farmers.

A Morning Hike With Ms. Lisa

Last week, Ms. Lisa, our Kindergarten Aftercare Teacher, shared a sweet audio recording with the kindergarten classes, inviting them to join her on a morning hike. As she walks, Ms. Lisa guides the children in imagining the sights, sounds, and smells along the way. At Marin Waldorf School, our kindergartners go for a hike every Friday, so this imaginative little story fits right into their weekly rhythm.

Here’s an excerpt from the note Ms. Lisa sent to families:

Greetings! I wanted to reach out and let you know that I have missed seeing you and the children, and that I hope you are well. I have a short, simple tale to share with the children–included both in a recording (5 minutes) and in writing (with photos) for you to share with your child if you would like… Many times the children in Bluebirds, and summer camp, have enjoyed the simple stories I tell them, either about my life away from school, or stories that I make up. So in that spirit of simplicity, I’d like to share my morning hikes in nature with the children. I describe what happens, though I do take some creative license to “include” the children, as though they are hiking with me. I am looking forward to seeing all of you again soon!

Here is the recording from Ms. Lisa.

And here are the photos of her walk …

May Flowers: MWS Celebrates May Faire

Last Friday, we would have gathered to celebrate our traditional May Faire in the shade of Grandmother Oak. It’s a favorite event, one we all look forward to, and since we couldn’t be together, we asked our families to celebrate the spring at home and to share their pictures of their May Faire celebrations with us.

The beauty, kindness, and creativity of our community is always astounding! Thank you to everyone who shared their celebrations with us.

Flower crowns are a tradition at our May Faire, and many children made their own with garden flowers, paper, or felt, while others gather wildflowers or roses.

Some of our sweet families dropped off spring baskets for their neighbors.

Others made maypoles for dancing or for their toy gnomes, including a very inventive maypole made from an outdoor umbrella!

Others gathered wildflowers on their hikes or gifted garden flowers to their neighbors.

Did you celebrate the May Faire at home? Let’s keep our celebration growing! Please share your pictures with us.

Video: Baby Deer in Preschool Play Yard

Yesterday, we shared the story of our newest addition to the Marin Waldorf School family: a mama deer and her two spotted fawns, who are spending their precious first days of life exploring our preschool and kindergarten play yards.

Today, we have a short video of the deer family, shot by alumnus Jack Berkenfield (Class of 2012).

Rest assured, even after their frantic escape, mama and her babies have returned to campus, where they are enjoying the quiet atmosphere and spring flowers.

Spring Blessings: New Family Joins MWS

Throughout the world, there are reports of wild animals roaming freely in what were once crowded urban areas or tourist destinations, from the bears strolling comfortably through Yosemite Valley to pumas in the streets of Santiago, Chile.

At Marin Waldorf School, we are always blessed to be surrounded open space, hawks circling overhead, and even the occasional wildcat sighting. But our campus closure has drawn in some new and beautiful visitors. Just last week, a doe found a quiet corner of the preschool play yard to give birth to twin fawns.

Here, kindergarten teacher Peggy Rock recounts her explosive introduction to the deer family that is now making Marin Waldorf School its home.

Last Sunday, as I was attending our Sunday morning coffee, in the Morning Glory classroom, teacher Nicole came to my door. She said to come out and look. I left the meeting and went outside our classroom to see a beautiful young doe leaping back-and-forth in the preschool play yard. We thought she was trying to get over the fence, as we couldn’t figure out how she got all the way into the play yard with the gate closed. A little fawn was lying nestled immobile against the fence. It looked like it might be brand new.

The mother continued frantically leaping back and forth back and forth. Suddenly she turned and took a great leap at the building and violently broke a window in the Morning Glory classroom with her hooves. It was only then that I realized that she was trying to distract us from her baby, and that we needed to go back into the room so she wouldn’t be so anxious.

When we had backed away, she and the fawn suddenly raced toward the kindergarten play yard.  Later that day I saw her munching leaves on the hillside, gazing through the window at me quietly and peacefully as if nothing had happened to make her frightened.  She hadn’t hurt herself a bit. We continue to see her every day that we are here. Although I have only seen her with one of her babies, I hear that there are two!

It seems our new Marin Waldorf School family is making itself right at home! Enjoy a couple more photos of our dear deer, snapped by kindergarten teacher Adriana.

Camp Kindness

Created by our social ethics teacher Ms. Baxt, Camp Kindness was offered as a weeklong elective course for students and their families, preschool through 8th grade. The week was comprised of pro-social activities to build family and community connections, with the goal of contributing towards the health of others while actively living our values with our children. Says Ms. Baxt, “Kindness is contagious too.”

Each day of the week was dedicated to essential workers in different sectors: health care, sanitation, postal and delivery services, child care, and food supply chain. Check out Ms. Baxt’s recommendations for spreading kindness to food chain workers.

Tuesday: In honor of food chain workers

Remember that we can help share the good will by doing our mediation for these important workers.  Take a deep breath and focus your family’s thoughts on the workers,  “May these very essential workers be safe.  May they be healthy.  May they be happy.  May they, and their families, be at ease.”

Options (do one, or do them all)
1) Call your local lower cost grocery store to find out how you can donate some healthy snacks and send some notes of appreciation to their employee break room.
2) Sign-up to deliver or donate food for those in need.  Or scroll down for volunteer opportunities in food and in senior support.
3) Deliver notes to your neighbors’ mailboxes asking if they know somebody who needs help with groceries, errands, or meal delivery.  Don’t forget to include your contact info. Remember that research shows transmission does not occur through food — just use safe delivery practices.
4) Invite a “guest” for a meal.  Do you know somebody who might be lonely at home?  Invite them to join your family for a virtual family meal.  Think of some questions you could ask them to learn more about their lives.  This is a good spot to find great questions.

Here are some photos of Camp Kindness in action.

It’s Spring! Flower Projects to Celebrate May Faire

UPDATED WITH MORE RESOURCES! Our annual May Faire is a celebration of spring and of community. While our campus is closed, we have a plan to celebrate the hope and beauty of springtime together, in addition to spreading that joy to our neighbors, friends, and grandparents, who were supposed to be the guests of honor at this year’s May Faire (stay tuned for more information on that!).

Flower Crowns
At school, every student and teacher (as well as many parents) create flower crowns from fresh flowers woven into a ring of braided raffia. If you have an abundant garden at home or a stash of silk flowers to use, making a crown is the traditional way to celebrate May Faire. Our colleagues at the Pasadena Waldorf School have some wonderful suggestions for creating May Faire baskets and flower crowns, as well as other May Faire beauty, at home. Here’s another video tutorial for making a fresh flower crown with floral wire or headband.

Missing the raffia or floral wire? Here is a lovely tutorial for creating a finger-knit crown with fresh flowers from Cedarwood Waldorf School. Or you could try this Celtic-knot headband made of an old T-shirt.

Missing the garden roses? Try one of the flower-making tutorials we’ve recommended below.

Folded Paper Flowers & Recycled Paper Flowers
Tiny hands could help create these pretty accordion paper flowers, as well as the pastel-swirl coffee filter flowers from First Palette. Westside Waldorf School created this awesome video tutorial on creating a paper flower crown. If you have some more time on your hands, these recycled paper flowers from Rock ‘n’ Roll Bride look amazing when complete.

For more elaborate bouquets, Origami Guide has a step-by-step guide to creating paper lotus flowers. Choose a piece of paper that won’t rip easily, and don’t worry if your corners start looking worn as you fold and fold: the result is lovely when the flower is complete. This video shows you how to create surprisingly pretty paper flowers using Post-it notes.

Draw Flowers
For younger children, this bubble-flower hydrangea project from A Piece of Rainbow would be fun and easy to replicate! Here’s a guide to drawing flowers from artist Kate Kyehyun Park at My Modern Met, as well as this step-by-step guide to drawing roses.

Use Wildflowers
Here is a video tutorial for creating a flower crown out of ubiquitous golden dandelion flowers.

You can also collect and dry wildflowers, or gather them for a May Faire basket.

Photo by 6th Grader Alina

What other creative ways can we celebrate the blossoming of spring? Please share your ideas for making flowers at home with us by emailing grandmotheroak@marinwaldorf.org.