Friday, April 30, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
North has really started to get involved with his wooden puzzle sets. It's definitely a guided activity- not so much because he needs help placing the pieces into their correct spaces, but because he needs help setting everything up, laying the pieces out and he enjoys a little bit of vocal encouragement ("good job!"/ "turn it around a bit").
Hand Eye Coordination
Placing the pieces in the correct spot takes a great deal of concentration and effort. At first your toddler may struggles- trying to forces pieces in the wrong spot or at the wrong angle. Over time, their hand eye coordination will develop and they will place the pieces in with ease.
When a child works on a puzzle with an adult or other children it teaches them cooperation and is a wonderful way to work on their listening skills. Simple commands such as "Turn it upside down", or questions like, "Where does the cow go", teach them how to listen, react and verbally respond. Puzzles are also a great way to introduce 'quiet time' to an active child. it is a quiet activity that involves a great deal of concentration- so your child is still expending energy.
Fine Motor Skills
Puzzles also help to develop their pincer grip (the grip between the pointing finger and thumb), which is an essential skill for humans. This is the same grip that will eventually enable them to write with a pencil.
It is important to use age appropriate puzzles in order to keep your child happy and frustration-free. Wooden puzzles are best for toddlers through to pre-school as they are sturdy and can endure being slammed against the table, stomped on or being thrown on the floor. Cardboard puzzles with a number of small pieces can be used once a child is old enough to calmly lay the pieces out over a large flat surface and is patient enough to complete such a lengthy task.
Keep your eye out for a variety of puzzles at your local Op shop- almost all of our puzzles are thrifted treasures.
Simple is best. Keep the puzzles as simple as is age appropriate for your child. They don't need to have glitter on them, sing songs or have their favourite characters on them to be effective! Children do not tire of things at the same impatient rate that adults do. A plain and simple puzzle should last a long time and is less distracting than a complicated version.
Monday, April 26, 2010
The nature table is an important aspect in the Waldorf classroom. You (well the child(ren) really) can put whatever natural things you choose on the table, which is often seasonally or traditional themed (ie. 'autumn' or 'hanukah' or 'easter').
Sunday, April 25, 2010
This season in the urban garden I have planted-
Saturday, April 24, 2010
The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince), by Antonine de Saint-Exupery has been translated into more than 180 languages over the past 60 years. Although it's a children’s book it is deeply philosophical in nature and delights even the most serious adult reader.
The narrator, a fallen pilot, finds himself stranded in the Saharan dessert after a serious airplane crash. A little blond Prince approaches him like an enigma and begins to tell the pilot his story. As the pilot attempts to repair his plane the little boy explains he is from another small planet, far from the earth, where he has left his beloved rose in order to explore other parts of the universe. He recounts his journey and the characters he has come across- a king, a conceited man, a drunkard, a lamplighter, and a geographer- all adults who are unable to teach him much more than he already knows. During his visit to Earth he comes across a fox who has a some more valuable lessons. He is then overcome by a desire to return to his little planet and to his rose, willing to sacrifice anything to get back to her.
Here are a few beautiful quotes from the book:
"Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them."
"Grown-ups love figures. When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essentail matters. They never say to you, “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?” Instead, they demand: “How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?” Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.
But the conceited man did not hear him. Conceited people never hear anything but praise."
“Why are you drinking?” demanded the little prince.
“So that I may forget,” replied the tippler.
“Forget what?” inquired the little prince, who already felt sorry for him.
“Forget that I am ashamed,” the tippler confessed, hanging his head.
“Ashamed of what?” insisted the little prince, who wanted to help him.
“Ashamed of drinking!”
“When he lights his street lamp, it is as if he brought one more star to life, or one flower. When he puts out his lamp, he sends the flower, or the star, to sleep. That is a beautiful occupation. And since it is beautiful, it is truly useful.”
“To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…”
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
I highly recommend this book to children of all ages- including the child in every Mother and Father. Request it at your local library, keep an eye out for it at the Op shop or buy it as a special treat for someone you love from your local bookstore.
Friday, April 23, 2010
A Masala is a combination of (often dry-roasted) spices and herbs that have been ground and mixed together. For masalas to be most effective they should be made fresh at least twice a month. Certain herbs are better for you in certain seasons, and as the weather changes and chills our environment, it is best to flavour meals with warming, soothing and potent herbs and spices that fight off the colds and flus associated with the cool temperature. When roasting and grinding herbs and spices try to be in a peaceful and calming environment so you are able to enjoy the experience (this may mean having your little one help you or maybe this is an activity reserved for when they’re safely tucked in at night). If you take the time to breathe in the smells and enjoy the colours and textures in front of you, your brain will begin to send signals to your stomach- curbing cravings and aiding digestion. Perhaps preparing, roasting and grinding spices will start to become a meaningful and enjoyable weekly ritual for you.
This ‘early winter masala’ recipe is from the book ‘The Path of Practice: A Woman’s Book of Aurvedic Healing’ by Bri Maya Tiwari.
It is delicious added to rice bowls, for marinating tofu or to spice up a steamed vegetable dish.
2 tbs caraway seeds
2 tbs cumin seeds
1 tsp black/brown mustard seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garlic powder
Roast and grind the seeds before adding the powders
Caraway Seeds- are especially beneficial for the gastrointestinal system, soothes sore throats and aids in fighting coughs and colds.
Cumin Seeds- are naturally antiseptic, high in iron and have been used to help with flatulence, indigestion, morning sickness and diarrhea. They increase heat in the body creating more energy and increasing the metabolism.
Black Mustard Seeds- are known to be naturally laxative (mildly for the amount added to your masala) and have also been used to treat minor respiratory problems.
Turmeric- is known as one of natures most powerful healers- used as an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent for centuries. It is also thought to be a major anti-carcinogenic.
Garlic- is another natural anti-biotic that has been throughout history to treat coughs, colds and even ear infections. Garlic is also a naturally warming herb.
As with anything, the more pure your herbs are, the more confident you can be that they are going to do their job well without polluting your body in any way. I think it is especially important to examine your spices and read the information labels looking for harmful preservatives. Also make sure none of your herbs are past their used by date or you could be doing more harm than good. A trustworthy Australian Organic herb provider is gourmet-organics. They have an online shop if you can’t find their brand at your local health food or organic shop.
I encourage you to research spice and herbs that have been frequently and historically used in your family and country and by your ancestors. Experiment and create your own masalas. They do not have to use only dried herbs and spices, but fresh ones as well.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
If you experience a lot of allergies through the seasons, I highly recommend giving one a go. There are a variety you can buy, I got my white ceramic one at the local health food store. You can also find them online. Like anything, use it in moderation. I use my neti pot when I am feeling blocked on one side- once in the evening and once when I wake up. It also keeps my nasal passages moist and clean, which can be a challenge when your frolicking in sandpits all day.