Importance of Natural Play Spaces for Children and Connecting with Nature by Audra Harvey

Audra writes: What if playgrounds were natural landscapes where children explore their outdoor surroundings and create their own play structures?  What if children’s crafts were inspired by nature and made from natural materials?  Can you imagine a world where the forest is a child’s classroom?  What if a child’s curiosity was fueled by the world around them, unhindered by media and marketing?  What would it look like?  I am lucky.  I don’t have to wonder!  My children attend a Waldorf school and the area where I live in Austin has many different childcare and school options.  My family is fortunate.  Many children in our country do not experience the outdoors daily.

The Play's the Thing: "Spontaneous Theater" with Mixed Ages By Faith Collins

The Play's the Thing: "Spontaneous Theater" with Mixed Ages

By Faith Collins

What can we do to promote imaginative play in young children?  How can we encourage and facilitate children playing together in ways that everyone enjoys?  How do we help integrate the play of mixed-age groups?  How can we increase our enjoyment of spending our time with the children?  There are many answers to each of these questions, but one way I’ve found to affect all of these is to engage in what I call "spontaneous theater" with the children.

The Innate Brilliance of Children by Judith Frizlen

Judy writes: Children have an internal program that drives them to meet challenges and to practice new skills through play. Just as we do not need to teach a child to walk, we do not, and cannot, teach children how to play.  Although fair play and social skills are not innate, the desire to work through life's circumstances through creative free play is innate. Since children cannot intellectualize their experiences, they play them out with their bodies, and in doing so, they practice skills and learn how life works.

Planning With Intention, By Mary O'Connell

“Focus more on who your child is
than on what your child does.
Remember, you are growing a person,
not fixing a problem.” 
L.R. Knost

May Day and Maypole Dancing, by Mara Spiropoulos, Sarah Baldwin and Max Alexander

Editor's Note: To kick off May, albeit a bit late, I asked members of the LifeWays community to share how they celebrate festivals with chidlren. Sarah Baldwin, owner of Bella Luna Toys and author of Moonchild Blog, and Sarah's husband, Max Alexander, were kind enough to contribute pictures.

May Day and Maypole Dancing

We celebrate May Day to commemorate the beginning of spring, a renewal of energy and life, and a rejuvenation of our spirits.  A popular way to celebrate is through creating and dancing around a Maypole. The Maypole is a tall pole decorated with flowers and greenery and festooned with ribbons that the dancers will then weave as they dance. This dance has been performed to celebrate spring and ensure the fertility that comes with the season.

Wind or Weather: An Elemental Experience, by Jaimmie Stugard

Written by Jaimmie Stugard: After nearly half a year of frigid Wisconsin winter, gradually the snow and the half-foot of ice buried beneath it began to melt away.  Here and there we caught a few glimpses of sunshine with a warmish 50 degree breeze, only to have the temperature plummet again the next day.  The last week has brought us constant rain, wind and thunder along with frigid temperatures.  And yet, at LifeWays we go outside nearly every single day.

Natural Egg Dyeing, by Mara Spiropoulos

I had waffled for the last few weeks over whether to buy the cheap Easter egg dyeing kit but opted instead this year to give natural dyes a try. The kids and I boiled some eggs (both white and brown), mixed up some new natural dye concoctions, got out some crayons, and set to work.

Doing a little bit of research on the computer and surveying my own cupboards, I chose paprika, coffee, hibiscus tea and beet juice as our samples for our first year of natural egg dyeing. For the beet juice, tea and coffee I simply mixed in a tablespoon of vinegar. For the paprika, I mixed about 3 heaping teaspoons with a cup of water and a tablespoon-plus of vinegar. The kids all helped mix while I helped hold the cups steady so we wouldn't dye the countertops!

Encouraging Sharing and Kindness Among Siblings, by Mara Spiropoulos

My husband told me something the other day that started to change the way I think and dream. See, I am a dreamer. I have always been one to imagine my life running many different courses, and following only a few. Truth is, I have lots of ideas and secret dreams that will likely never come to fruition for they are either too far-fetched or the idea is no longer of interest to me for I have moved on to yet another dream. I have even bigger dreams of saving the world through starting a plethora of non-profits.

Autumn Story Poem (with Finger Puppets!)

Here is a little autumn story poem for autumn harvest days.  I make apple finger puppets to help make this visual.  Just draw a small fingertip size apple – cut 2 out with red felt, add a brown stem and green leaf…easy!  Sew around it, leaving room for your finger at the bottom.  This one is so easy you can make many!!  You will need 3 apple finger puppets for this puppet poem story.

          One little apple hanging on a tree,
          It fell down and bumped my knee!
          Another little apple as rosy as a rose,
          It fell down and bumped my nose!
          Another little apple, ripe and sweet,
          It fell down and bumped my feet!
          It rolled and rolled nearly to my house,
          Where it was spotted by a tiny little mouse.
          “This yummy apple will make a fine meal,”
          And he munch munch munched it, even the peel.

Pumpkins All Year Round!


Children love the jolly jack-o-lanterns, but at Spindlewood we like to keep our pumpkins alive all year round, beginning with hunting for them in the overgrown summer garden.


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