I’ve been putting together a series of activities for my daughters based on the changing seasons and I thought I’d share my inspirations and sources in case anyone else is looking for ideas.
Activities, Crafts and Games to Encourage Children to Get Outdoors
Another beautiful book from Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks, Nature’s playground is packed to the brim with games, crafts and adventures for all seasons. Ideas for autumn include Natural painting, autumn collections, forest mobiles, elf houses, woodland monsters and colourful crowns. Another section is entitled Fun After Dark with ideas for a Halloween feast, games to play in the dark and how to watch moths. I’m gleaning ideas for making family walks even more fun and exciting this autumn and winter and also planning some leafy crafts using material from this book.
A Guide to Multi-Cultural Celebration
I love the combination lot recipes, songs and stories in this book. This year we’ll be making Pumpkin Pie to celebrate Thanksgiving and making a tree from which we’ll hang cut out leaves, detailing everything that we are thankful for in our lives. We’ll read about Divali and cook an Indian meal together to celebrate. We’ll probably end up henna-ing each other’s hands and listening to some sitar music and perhaps putting on a play with puppets of the story of Rama and Sita. In years gone by we have made lamps and decorated rangoli patterns too. This book contains an incredible smorgasbord of ideas for festivals from many different cultures. It’s quite brilliant!
CELEBRATING THE SEASONS OF LIFE
Samhain to Ostara: Lore, Rituals, Activities and Symbols
I love this book; it goes into quite a lot of depth about each celebration and Samhain is no different. Expect to learn about all sorts from singing for the ancestors to how to make gingerbread, building a community altar to the importance of pumpkins at this time of year. Ashleen O’Gaea is the author of several books and she and her husband run their own coven. I love the idea of a reverse spiral dance to mark Samhain so will be borrowing ideas from this book for our family celebrations.
THE FAIRY PARTY BOOK
Bringing Magic into Every Celebration Throughout the Year
In this cheerful and fun book, Marina Stern shares her ideas for celebrating every month of the year. Each entry includes some background history and often a recipe or party idea. For Halloween she shares a spiced hot apple juice drink. I’ve used this book for gaining insight into Samhain and why it is celebrated.
SEVEN TIMES THE SUN
Guiding your family through the rhythms of the day
Although this book is not specifically about seasonal celebrations, I find myself turning to it again and agin when looking for a meaningful and joyful way to celebrate family life. The book, one of a selection by Shea Darian shares simple rituals, songs and ideas to bring calm, peace or a sense of excitement to different times of the day. Currently I am using the section on celebrating quiet; it focuses on listening and encourages the use of a ‘pause’ during each day when everyone enjoys a time of silent relaxation. Shea suggests activities that might help our children to slow down and take a pause, “Individual quiet time might be inspired by repetitive crafts or simple tasks that help clear a buzzing mind. Finger knitting, weaving a basket or beading a necklace can bathe one in silent relaxation.” I love the gentle inspiration that I receive from reading her words.
CELEBRATING THE GREAT MOTHER
A Handbook of Earth Honouring Activities for Parents and Children
This is a wonderful book packed full of ideas for marking the turning wheel of the year. Each of the projects aims to encourage a deeper understanding of earth based spirituality and it has certainly opened up some interesting insights for our family. I love the Samhain activity on discovering your power animal which takes parents and children on a magical journey to meet their special animal. Other projects involve making costumes, creating bean runes to use for divination and how best to decorate an altar for this time of year. Think pumpkins, scattered colourful leaves, candles, nuts, bones and offerings to the ancestors. Written by Cair Johnson and Maura Shaw, this handbook contains a wealth of ideas for family celebrations.
The beautiful image that I have chosen to illustrate this post is from an autumn trees tutorial to make decorations for your autumn nature table from Patch O’Dirt Farm. Find out how to make some gorgeous, colourful, gossamer leaves for your home and read more about the family behind the project here.
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I have been asked a few times recently what books I’d recommend for someone interested in home education. After a few moments thought I had amassed a whole shelf’s worth of inspiration but these are some of the very best. Books that have both inspired and guided me over the last eight years of family life.
ONE TO ONE is a beautifully produced sourcebook for home educators. Former teacher, Gareth Lewis and his family have compiled their knowledge of subjects from maths to gardening, cookery to art. It is aimed at families with children aged up to eleven, covering the preschool years and the importance of play in the early chapters. I used this book a great deal when my children were younger but we have now graduated to the sequel, Unqualified Education, for those aged 11 to 18. In One to One, there’s plenty of ideas to spark a journey of discovery and also much to ressaure you in Lewis’ editorial throughout the book. The illustrations and projects contributed by Lewis’ illustrious children serve as further reassurance that home education works. Great for those looking for inspiration for projects and wondering how to go about it.
TEACH YOUR OWN: John Holt’s book of home schooling is a useful reference book which has recently been updated. It contains much information on Holt’s philosopy but for anyone who wants to delve into the why of home education a little deeper, I would recommend How Children Learn and How Children Fail. Holt subscribes to the belief that children are natural learners and do not need to be co-erced into education or have school recreated for them at home. In fact his understanding of children and how they think make any of his titles an interesting read for all parents, whether home educating or not. A good choice for those interested in the philosophy of unschooling.
AND THE SKYLARK SINGS WITH ME: Adventures in home and community based education is David Albert’s first biographical book about his experiences educating his daughters. Some friends of mine don’t get on with this book, finding it frustratingly unachievable. It is true that Albert seems to be raising two daughters who are clearly genius material, which could highlight shortcomings in one’s own experiences. But I find that it serves as an exciting, inspirational tale of hope and possibility. Yes, his eldest is composing sonatas and singing complicated works with the local choral society by the age of ten but that is recounted in such a way that it is joyful to read of his child’s talents. I thoroughly enjoy this and Albert’s sequel, Homeschooling and the Voyage of Self-Discovery and revisit both at least once a year. A good read for those looking for stories of hope and possibility.
DUMBING US DOWN: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto is the book that I unreservedly recommend to anyone who is home-ed curious. I have bought countless copies over the years and yet looking in my bookcase now I can’t find one copy so they must all be out there circulating. Taylor Gatto, himself a former headteacher, outlines everything that is wrong with the current school system and details what we can do to put it right. Incredibly inspiring stuff from someone on the inside. A brilliant page turning read for those who are considering home education but are still unsure.
FREE RANGE EDUCATION, edited by Terri Dowty is another oft-lent book to those families considering home education. An excellent introduction, it comprises a series of essays and experiences from home educating families. Editor, Teri has put together a valuable selection of stories from a wide range of educational backgrounds, covering different approaches. This seems to be a popular read for dads who are seeking more information about the actual practicalities of home education. Useful for those who want information from the front line; how does it actually work.
Do you have any favourite reads that have inspired you? It would be great to hear about them here.
The Out of the Ordinary Festival (OOtO) is a great small family friendly festival (which I hope to attend as it takes place between Brighton and Eastbourne near Green Parent HQ). It is held over three days days to celebrate the autumn equinox from 23-25 Sept.
Again, like many of the festivals I’ve been blogging about recently, there is a lovely focus on the family and the The Willowisp Family Area provides a safe and inspiring area for kids and their parents. There are areas for free play, workshops throughout the day and opportunities to make new friends and get involved in the parade or play new instruments.
The site is divided into elemental areas, each with a special focus. Fire has it’s own special arena where you can see explosive fire shows and cabaret performances as well as learning a trick or two with some circus skills and fire-poi lessons!
Water has its own dedicated project which aims to remind us that we are guardians of the planet and have the power to heal it. According to their gloriously colourful website outoftheordinaryfestival.com, “Avalon Rising will be presenting inspirational talks from spirituality, astronomy to astrology with some of the world’s leading authorities on Earth Grids, Egyptology, Dowsing, Earth Energies, Mayan Dreamtime, Shamanism, Superfoods, Cymatics, Earth Grids, Lawful Rebellion, Earth Mysteries, Consciousness, Sacred Geometry, Ancient Knowledge and so much more.”. Plenty to keep you busy then!!
The Earth Wisdom arena was founded by Susan Hall and this year she has put together a wide range of arts and crafts fun for the whole family in the Eco Area, including including Reiki, Bushcraft, Herbal Medicine, Munay-Ki, Tarot, Animal Communication and Ceremonial Practice workshops.
Air is all about the music. With bands such as System 7, Zubzub, Orchid-Star, Vital, Transformer and many, many more. The focus is not only on fabulously relaxing and euphoric music, but also making it, through the presence of Urban Sedated Records which is a UK based fair trade record label specializing in all forms of Reggae, Dub and Roots music from around the world. The Urban Sedated crew are bringing some of their own world class artists. As an emerging Community Interest Company (not for profit), all money raised goes back into the community to create more access to the Arts and have a positive impact on individuals accessing services.
So if you fancy celebrating the Autumn Equinox with something a little different, get your tickets here.
Waveform is a festival with an admirable green mission, to achieve carbon neutral status. From energy reduction measures to tree-planting, They are aiming to make this event, taking place in Taunton from 2-4th Sept, the greenest dance festival in the UK and possibly the world.
Eco-Rangers will be going around the site gathering carbon information from the punters, production crew and main stage artists this year. This information will form part of the Waveform Carbon Footprint Scheme; enabling the organisers to work out how much carbon the event is creating. This will ensure year on year improvements can be made to carbon reduction measures, showing areas for celebration and those that need further work.
Festival goers can expect the best in cutting edge dance music with green roots. You can enjoy a full programme of talks, workshops, saunas, showers, healing, therapies and organic food to feed the mind, body and soul in the Green Village. Waveform 2011 is all about keeping the same lovely vibe and cutting edge electronic music, whilst upping the conscious element.
I am super excited about the Psy Trance arena hosted by the legendary Tribe of Frog (check out the line up!), the WorldShift workshop space including solar cinema and collective consciousness experiment (yes!) and the wealth of organic food available; all traders have to commit to at least 75% of their food being organic. Tickets are still available up to 28th August – find out more at waveformfestival.com
Welcome to the new blog from the Green Parent office. Here we'll talk about what's going on in the small and quite leafy headquarters of the UK's leading green lifestyle magazine. We'll share news that interests us and talk about green issues and natural parenting. We'll share advice and information from our own experiences of living a green lifestyle. And we'll even tell you what we are reading, eating, drinking and thinking. Hope you get plenty of food for thought here.