Monday, April 27, 2009

Waldorf in the Home Conference

Mommy attended the Educating our Children -- Changing the Future conference, put on by Rahima Baldwin Dancy at The conference was at the Sacramento Waldorf School in Fair Oaks, CA this past weekend. Wilson came along on Sunday and had a wonderful time with other K children, playing on the beautiful K playground.

Some highlights:
Shea Darian is an amazing keynote speaker! She also did a wonderful presentation on the importance of rhythm and ritual at home. Her books are such a wonderful resource for homeschooling families: Living Passages for the Whole Family, Sanctuaries of Childhood, and Seven Times the Sun.

Deanna L'am spoke of the importance of honoring children's rites of passage as they grow older, especially girls. Fascinating subject! We got a signed copy of her wonderful book, Becoming Peers: Mentoring Girls into Womanhood.

Ellen Springwind presented on watercoloring. What a lovely and useful presentation!

Melisa Nielssen from did a wonderful presentation on 1st grade at home. We bought her 1st grade book and a CD full of songs that we will start incorporating in our circle times this next year. (If you purchase from her, please tell her that Syrendell sent you!)

We bought a lovely, biodynamic lavender essential oil from Napa Valley Apothecary. We used this for inhalation before going to bed and topically to heal a scrape. Wilson and Mommy added a few drops in our homemade lemonade today since we enjoyed the lavender lemonade at the conference so much!

Jan Schubert had her handmade, beeswax candles for sale, as well as her beautiful book, The Sun Seed. We couldn't resist getting candles and her book!

Marin Lipowitz presented on how to teach math to grades 1-4 using manipulatives from her upcoming math kits. A former Waldorf teacher, she showed how the kits incorporated Waldorf philosophy, CA state standards, and national standards. She gave us a few pieces of the kits to take home. Wilson enjoyed making numbers out of pipe cleaners today.

Many other wonderful vendors were on hand, including the Steiner College bookstore.

We enjoyed eating fresh, organic, biodynamic food and drinks for lunch and breaks, while enjoying the beauty of the campus. Singing each morning was the best way to start each of the two days of the conference. Overall, the conference was informative, enjoyable and inspirational!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Knights in the Kingdom of Caid

Digging through some of our activity archives, we found these pics taken in 2006 from a Renaissance Fair event sponsored by the Society for Creative Anachronism. We were invited by Bjo Trimble, the owner of Griffin Dyeworks & Fiber Arts, who is also a member of SCA. We displayed some of our spinning products, and had fun dressing up in medieval garments.

Sir Ricky and Sir Wilson were dressed as knights and Lady Joey, a princess of the Royal Court. Ricky's and Wilson's costumes were easy to create, using very basic materials and a simple design that allowed for speedy assembly.

The event was held in southern CA, where SCA's Kingdom of Caid presided. The men donned armor, and with padded swords, lances, and maces, they fought bravely in mock battles. Not to be left out, the young knights also were given the opportunity to try their skills in combat, wearing helmets, and knee pads, and using foam weapons and shields. Should we encounter any orcs from Middle-Earth, we're covered! Huzzah!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Danish Gnomes in our Home!

Today, we are posting about our gnome swap through Ravelry! Ravelry is a wonderful place for fiber artists to come together, learn, inspire, share and connect. There is a gnome group who hosts regular swaps. We were fortunate to be paired up with lovely Jette from Denmark for our gnome swap!

Well, take a look at the beautiful, knitted gnome family she sent to us. Carrots, too! The kids have had fun playing with them, including them in our circle time, and moving them around on the nature table. We have been studying the different types of roots this past month, so the carrots were appropriate!

While learning about hyperbole this week, we wrote a hyperbole poem about our Danish gnomes.

Joey lead us in a form drawing during circle time that looked like a carrot! She loves to lead form drawings.

Jette also sent us Danish chocolate, beautiful handmade ornaments, gnome stickers, magnets, a Hans Christian Anderssen book, and some beautiful Danish yarn. Wilson is crocheting bookmarkers for Daddy's and Lola's birthdays from the yarn.

We love our gnomes and everything that came from Jette in Denmark!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Waldorf in the Home Conference

Don't forget to come to the Waldorf in the Home Conference this weekend in Fair Oaks, CA! This year is called: Educating Our Children - Changing the Future

One of my favorite blogs details the conference beautifully:

Here's a link for more information and registration:

I live just 10 minutes from the conference, so I'll definitely be there both days! If anyone else out there in homeschooling blogland is going, let's try and find each other. Maybe we can sit together for lunch. Come find me....Jennifer Tan. Hope to see some of you this weekend!

Green Sprite and Snooks the Snail

Blogtale #2

One fine day, the Syrendell Sprites were at a peace rally at a local park. (Apparently, a bit of an argument occurred between squirrels and bluejays.) At only three inches tall, the sprites are quite brave in their endeavors! They were in the middle of a chant when Green Sprite realized she had forgotten to have breakfast with her friend Snooks the Snail.

Green Sprite told the other sprites that she had better return to Syrendell, and to finish the rally without her. When Green Sprite entered her garden, she spotted Snooks waiting with a little frown on her face.

"Snooks," said Green Sprite, "I am so sorry! I promised to have breakfast with you, and instead I rushed out to the rally." Seeing that her snail friend was a bit sad, and quite hungry, Green Sprite found a rather juicy azalea flower from the garden, knowing that it would cheer her up.

"Let's share this yummy flower, Snooks," exclaimed Green Sprite. Snooks loved azaleas and loved that her friend Green Sprite was so caring. Playful as always, Snooks climbed up on top of Green Sprite's head.

Green Sprite looked left and looked right. Where did Snooks go, she wondered?

Snooks surprised Green Sprite and they both shared a good laugh, and a lovely, late breakfast. In the distance, they could hear squirrels and bluejays singing together - the peace rally went well.

The End
Syrendell Blogtale #2 - The images here are photographs with a simple "colored pencil" digital filter applied. The snail is available in our syrendell.etsy shop.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Telling and Remembering Stories

The Turnip (Russia)
The Persimmon Monster (Korea)

Three Billy Goats Gruff (Western Europe)
Fairytales and folktales are wonderful stories to share. Every 1-2 weeks, we dive into a new tale as a family. The story will come from a part of the world that relates to our social studies and sometimes, our science blocks.
We tell the story, read the story, re-tell the story (in our own words), and then do a project that will help us remember and enjoy the tale. Our Enki K and 1st grade fairy tales and folk tales books are terrific resources. Here are some of the projects that we do:

1. Felt Boards
We draw patterns on paper, cut out felt pieces, and place them on our homemade felt board. Our felt board is a long piece of cardboard from a box, covered with a piece of light blue flannel on one side (day time) and black flannel on the other side (night). We move the characters on the board as we tell the story.
Tiddlelick the Frog (Australia)
The Old Woman and the Red Pumpkin (India)
2. Puppet Plays
Sometimes we use our puppet theater that hangs in the doorway, and sometimes we sit behind the couch! We have all sorts of puppets by Folkmanis.

3. Finger Puppets
Using material from old clothes, we cut and sew material to fit our index fingers for each character. Finger puppet plays are done on the side of the table or in the twig house. Daddy said that he wants to build us a finger puppet play stage, soon!

The Elves and the Shoemaker (Western Europe)

4. Wood, Crocheted, Felted Characters and Props
Daddy's wood creatures, Mommy's crocheted animals, and the kids' wood/felted characters act out stories on the twig house stage.
The Turnip (Russia)

Cluck Cluck and Little Tuppen (Western Europe)
5. Plays
Sometimes, we act out the stories ourselves! We make props and costumes from our dyed silks, wood blocks, rocks, and other items that we can find around the house.

Stone Soup (Eastern Europe)

6. Songs
If a story has poems or songs in it, we sing them together (sometimes we make up the tune). We especially like Shake it Up Tales which has stories from around the world, many of them with songs included.

7. Main Lesson Book (Writing and Drawing)
Wilson draws the story at the end of the 1-2 weeks in his MLB.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Light, Energy, and Mysterious Fowl

refracting laser light

Our kids may be on spring break but opportunities for learning never cease! We decided to spend an afternoon at the Explorit Science Center in Davis, CA. Our first order of business was to enjoy a lunch buffet in the dorm dining commons at University of California at Davis (UCD). Jennifer and I both graduated from there and have always enjoyed delicious meals when we were residents on campus. So we keep coming back for more to share the culinary joy with our kids, along with lots of hungry college students!

On the way to the dining halls, we spotted this mysterious wild fowl near one of the dorms. We discovered that it was a guinea hen. We have never seen one on campus before and now knowing they are native to Africa, we could only wonder as to how they got there. UCD has a top-notch veterinary school and the campus is surrounded by farmland, wetlands, and other natural habitats, so maybe the guinea hens were in fact residents of the area.

a guinea hen running fast

Just a mile or two from campus is the Explorit Science Center. This small non-profit science center rotates exhibits on the biological sciences and the physical sciences, and we enjoy periodic visits to learn from their fun, child-friendly, interactive displays. Ricky has been studying about the properties of light, so the timing was perfect to see their most current exhibit on light and energy.

a magnifying glass and prism at home
A curtained display allowed for the manipulation of a a beam of laser light as it traveled through prisms and bounced off mirrors. Another display called Newton's Cradle demonstrated the law of the conservation of energy, and the difference between kinetic and potential energy. A series of light bulbs, LEDs, compact fluorescent, incandescent, and halogen, compared the electrical usage of each of these household items. (LEDs - light-emitting diode bulbs, were the most energy efficient, using only 4 watts of energy compared with an incandescent at about 60 watts.) A cool kit on circuits enabled us to create some simple devices that turned on bulbs, played music, and sounded a police siren. Other displays allowed us to figure out which materials were good conductors of heat and electricity, and which materials were good insulators. Along with the rotating exhibits, the center maintains fixed exhibits as well that the kids enjoy returning to.

hmm, which light is most efficient?
setting up a circuit board
a camera that views object up close

static electricity
viewing animation on a zoetrope

We had a pleasant afternoon learning about light and energy. Lunch was yummy and filling. Now I am wondering, what are those guinea hens up to at this very moment?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easter Eggs - How To Naturally Dye

Dyeing Easter Eggs with natural ingredients is easy and fun! We have been doing this for a couple of years and the results are always suprising and beautiful.

What you need:
1. Large pot to boil eggs
2. Water
3. 2 dozen eggs
4. 6 bowls
5. vinegar
6. onion skins
7. red cabbage
8. tumeric powder
9. beets
10. copper granules (
11. blueberries or blackberries

Boil the eggs in water for at least 20 minutes. If cracking starts to occur, stop boiling. Boil # 6-11, each separately in a small pot of water for 5-10 min. each. Pour into bowls. Add 1 tblsp. vinegar and gently mix with a spoon. You can keep pieces of berries, beets and onion skins in the bowls along with the water for added color.

Place 4 eggs in each of the bowls and let sit for 15 min. Check and see how much color is absorbed. Leave eggs in longer (you can even leave them overnight) and observe if the color changes. Rinse in cool water. Gently rub a tiny bit of olive oil or other oil on each egg for shine (optional).

If the copper doesn't turn green right away, add a spinkle of tumeric. Berries will turn eggs anywhere from pink to blue to purple. Beets will turn eggs pink, purple, red or brown. Cabbage is a vibrant blue! Onion skins are orange/tan. Tumeric is a vibrant yellow. You can also try blending colors, draw on eggs with white crayon before dyeing to add designs, or dye eggs 1/2 and 1/2 in the colors using a spoon or egg dipper.