More and more parents understand the importance of free, unstructured play for children. However, in our highly structured and driven society, they are working against the grain, in a way. These families have to work extra hard to maintain their values and navigate away from the overuse of screens and electronic toys that take away all the wonder.
At first, if your child is not used to free, unstructured play, it can be difficult for them to sink into something joyful and absorbing. In some ways, it requires a “detox” from the toys and distractions of our modern world. Many popular toys for children today involve electronics: these toys beep, buzz, flash, and talk. On the surface, they seem very exciting and engaging, but one quickly realizes that they lack deeply nourishing engagement with wonder and creativity. Furthermore, they become a source of frustration because they easily break, or the batteries die quickly. They can also be quite disturbing to the nervous system of the child. These toys can overload the senses with sounds and visuals. And let’s not forget the disturbance to the nervous systems of those in the room (like stressed out moms)!
Free play should involve simplicity in order to reap the most rewards. Our recommendation is to simplify the play space and prepare it for maximum wonder.
Children get overwhelmed with too many choices. It is best to leave out five creative toy sets, like building blocks, train sets, Lego, animal figurines, and barnyard playsets, and have them organized into easy-to-access storage containers. You can rotate other toys into the mix every few months and take some out.
Bringing a toy into the mix they haven’t seen for a while; is like receiving a new toy.
Once you create the beautiful, organized, simple play space, and you’re ready to have your child sink into some unstructured, free play, set the bar low if they aren’t used to playing alone—plan for 30-45min for your child to settle into the space. Then, you can be nearby doing your own work but not engaging or playing with your child.
Once your children see that you are happily engaged in your work nearby, they will begin to settle. If they are used to calling for you, you can respond with clear and straightforward boundaries like, “Right now, I’m over here doing my work.” If they wish for a toy that is no longer available, you can respond simply with, “These are the toys you have today.”
Being clear on what your goals are for your child can help you maintain the firm boundaries this transition time will require. If your child once relied on electronic toys and video games to provide wonder and creativity without any work on the child’s part, your child may experience some discomfort as they shift to a new kind of play. This is ok! It is to be expected. We agree that reclaiming a childhood rich with wonder and full of imagination is what the world needs most and is well worth the struggle to get there.
It will be so much more enjoyable for everyone in the long run!
Children learn new routines by repetition. Therefore, it is best to set aside the same amount of time each day for a month, and you will see a difference in your child’s ability to enjoy the wonder and creativity of free play.
Spring is such a time of renewal and comes with a burst of energy. Seasonal celebrations give you a point of focus when choosing stories, crafts and activities to do as a family. Celebrations such as Easter offer a beautiful annual rhythm, something that your child looks forward to re-engaging with each year. It's a special experience to choose activities that become family traditions.
This poem by Kate L. Brown, is one of our favourites. We've used it as a verse and a dramatization where children act it out, pretending they are the seed.
In the heart of a seed,
Buried deep, so deep,
A dear little plant
Lay fast asleep.
'Wake,' said the sun,
'And creep to the light.'
'Wake,' said the voice
Of the raindrops bright.
The little plant heard,
And it rose to see
What the wonderful
Outside world might be.
The Easter Bunny
A charming, simple story about how the Easter Bunny learned how to deliver eggs can be found here. This website has really great resources on further ways to celebrate the seasons, ways to bring Waldorf into the home, etc.
The Little Brown Bulb
Here is an example of a sweet little puppet show that's perfect for Spring!
Little Brown Bulb
For this game, the child curls up on a ball and you cover them with a blanket (a nice, heavy one that blocks light really gives an idea of what it is like to be underground! Then you say:
A Little Brown Bulb lay asleep in the ground (hands resting on child's back)
And there she slept very sound (caress the back)
While Old King Winter raged and roared overhead (walk fingers like spiders over the child's back)
The Little Brown Bulb did not stir in her bed (rest hands)
Then came Lady Spring tip toeing over the lea (tip toe fingers)
Fingers to lips as quiet as can be (whisper)
The Little Brown Bulb lifted her head (child lifts head)
She slipped off her nightie and jumped out of bed! (child lifts the blanket and jumps up!)
This song can be played while lying down on the floor/ grass/etc. As the song indicates, once you wake up you hop about!
See the little bunnies sleeping until noon
Shall I wake them with a merry tune?
Oh so still.....are they ill?...
Wake up little bunnies, hop hop hop!
Wake up little bunnies, hop hop hop!
Natural dyed eggs are usually a 2 day project. To prepare, collect leaves and flowers, and secure them to the eggs using panty hose or cheese cloth (they work best when freshly picked, as maleable and moist sticks best to the eggs). After they have sat in the dye, the wrapping is removed revealing the beautiful stamp of the chosen flower or leaf.
If you're not so keen on the chemicals in store-bought Easter egg dye, try these nine all-natural options. Each features a colouring agent — a vegetable, fruit juice, or spice — that gives colour to hard-boiled eggs.
Spring is a time to observe growth and life, and what better way to pass the days than seeing a baby bean grow right before your eyes? Here is a really easy, visual way to teach children about root systems.
Five year olds might also like to hear the story of Jack and the Beanstalk.
Paper Seed Bombs
This is another multi step craft that is easy to execute and very rewarding. If you have any old seeds handy, this is the perfect way to use them! Perhaps you can plant to make them as gifts for friends and family, as a way of looking forward to seeing your loved ones again. Turn old paper into some super cool seed balls! This easy science activity and craft are perfect for Earth Day or a unit on gardening or plants and seeds!
With thanks and credit to Lucia Perez from the Comox Valley Waldorf School.
The pentatonic flute is named so after the five-note pentatonic scale. Rudolf Steiner said this scale harkens back to our ancient ancestors' days and the music they felt from the spirit world. As human consciousness evolved, so did our understanding and connection to music.
In ancient days, the familiar seven-note diatonic scale "do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do" was not developed yet. The most familiar diatonic scale is C Major- C D E F G A B C. The pentatonic scale does not use the C or the F notes, just as music from our ancient past was played with just these five notes; D E G A B. These are the notes that your sweet, little, dreamy child feels most connected to. Your young child feels the pentatonic scale's notes in their soul and delights in these tunes. They are the perfect songs to sing and play when your child is between birth and around eight years old. These are the notes that connect us to our ancient ancestors who walked and sang closer to the spirit world than we do today.
The flute is a beautiful instrument to begin with, as your child will become aware of their breath and learn how to regulate their breathing to produce a beautiful tone. Simultaneously, the flute's fingering requires the development of finger dexterity and fine motor movement, which can be challenging. So your child is also developing the ability to persevere through difficult circumstances. The ability to lift one finger or several fingers simultaneously is a marvellous brain/body activity. Finally, and most importantly, creating beautiful music is inspiring and enlivening. When your child knows a song and can sing it by heart, and then they are learning to play that song on the flute, well, that is a most exciting day to behold!!
So, the pentatonic flute is the ideal beginner instrument for your Grade One child. It speaks to the whole child: body, soul and spirit! And music is a great creative force that brings people together.
Daily Wonder highly recommends purchasing the Waldorf Teachers' Companion to the Pentatonic Flute, by John Miles.
Daily Wonder's YouTube playlist has everything you need to teach your child how to play the Pentatonic Flute. Jennifer has recorded Lessons for introducing all seven notes:
Each Daily Wonder unit comes complete with three weeks of guided daily curriculum and a 4th week called a Flex Week. Parents can rest assured that the curriculum is covered as planned for each unit during the first three weeks. If parents choose to continue the daily routine with Flex Week, they will continue to cover the curriculum and expand on that with design thinking as well.
The Flex Week project for the Grade 2, Month 7, The Wonder of Reading unit is the completion of a Kindness Quilt. The theme of kindness runs through the stories told during this unit. Stories of kindness are a perfect backdrop for the level of reflection appropriate for the 7 or 8-year-old. It is more developmentally appropriate for a child this age to feel how they feel rather than to think about how they feel. This means it is easier for them to read about kindness and feel how that care feels than for them to bring this into their thinking for analysis.
What is a Kindness Quilt?
The Kindness Quilt is a celebration of kindness. It is a nine-panel mini quilt about 12” square. You could encourage your child to think of a different person in their life that they would like to share kindness with as they work on each square. When completed, you can use it as a table centrepiece, a doll blanket, a resting place for special things, or a seat cover. Materials are listed below. Skills required are the ability to thread a needle, sew a decent running stitch, tie off, and cut with scissors. In addition, doing a blanket stitch would offer a good option for finishing off.
Here is a YouTube video on hand sewing the squares together. It will show you how to pin the edges together which can be tricky. Here is another video on how to make a quilt that will show you the entire process but using a sewing machine. The second video will show you how to fold over the backing edge to finish the quilt. We simplified by skipping the binding edge but the hemming and folding still applies.
Day 1: Gather materials, decide on the layout of quilt squares, pin edges together by laying them face to face, then pinning the edge with one or two pins. Pin in rows of three squares to end up with three pinned and separate rows of squares.
Day 2: Thread your needle with embroidery thread. Knot the thread at the beginning and end of the sewn section and sew all six lines of joined edges.
Day 3: Finish any sewing of edges. Pin two rows together by laying them face to face and pinning edges with 3-5 pins. Begin sewing this long edge.
Day 4: Add the final row to the sewn double row. Lay face to face with row, pin, sew. You should have the quilt side complete; hurray! Lay this on the backing fabric. Create hem on backing fabric by folding over about ½ cm/quarter inch. Fold the edge of backing fabric over the edge of the quilt, being sure to maintain the hem fold. Pin as needed.
Day 5: Sew backing fabric to the four sides of your quilt side. Use blanket stitch if desired. Place a French Knot in the centre of each square on the quilt side to finish off.
We hope you enjoy this Flex Week project and if you feel like sharing pictures of your kindness quilt, we'd love to see!
Kind Hearts (A poem to match the unit theme of kindness)
To do to others as I should
That they would do to me.
To make me good, and kind, and strong
As children ought to be.
Kind hearts they are the garden.
Kind thoughts they are the roots.
Kind words they are the blossom,
Kind deeds they are the fruit.
Children thrive in a predictable rhythm and routine. We see their anxiety lessen when they know what to expect. When meals and bedtime happen regularly , it anchors their day. Once established, it is helpful to find other aspects of the day that you can commit to making happen regularly. Homeschool is, of course, a source of rhythm for your child. Although these days, school can be somewhat unpredictable as well, giving us even more reasons to fill moments in your child’s day with heartfelt connection and a sense of calm.
Children are like sponges, absorbing the energy around them. It is important as the parent to be aware of the energy you are allowing into the home space. For example, if you listen to the news, know that even if it looks like your child is quietly playing in the other room, they are still absorbing the energy of the stories. Low-grade anxiety can seep into their being. As much as I did my best to protect my children from the onslaught of doomsday news when they were little, I knew I couldn’t stop it entirely. It became essential for me to hold consistent space for them each day, which instilled the values I wanted them to have. I found that the evening ritual was my best time to hold this space.
Children take in a lot of information and many experiences throughout their day that they can’t easily process. At night, when they are lying in bed, winding down, things often come to the surface. They can then share a painful experience they had in their day, a moment of confusion, or a story that happened. Setting aside this evening time for your child means that you are not in a rush to get somewhere. Your child feels your entire presence with them, and you can continue fostering a heartfelt connection. As a mother, I find that as my days are busy and I get pulled in many directions, I know that I can still give my children my attention and focus in the evenings. Whether it is for 5 minutes or 25 minutes, the point is that they have my undivided attention and can feel this and settle into it.
When my children were young, I decided to offer them an evening verse, a verse I would say with them every evening to instill my values and build a foundation for them of spiritual knowing and trust in the unseen world that I feel is around us. I chose to refer to God because this word speaks to me of the unknown spiritual wonder around us, regardless of any one religion. I decided to use the word angel because it speaks to me of the unseen spiritual support I feel we are graced by. I made up this simple verse:
Thank you, God, for making my day,
Thank you, angels, for guiding my way.
I began saying it with my children when they were 2 and 3 years old, and today they are 14 and 15 years old, and I still say it with them each night. It brings me a sense of peace that I have offered my children a feeling of wonder for the world in a gentle and consistent way. As teenagers, out in the world, they are exposed to all kinds of contradictory views about the world. Yet, the words they hear and feel right before falling asleep are words that align with what I want them to feel about this wonderful earthly experience.
I encourage you to consider your values and whether you have a spiritual view, you want to share with your children. What kinds of words would you like to have your child hear and feel each night while they live under your roof? Perhaps you feel comfortable writing your own verse to recite with them. Below I offer three evening verses I wrote for families with young children. Please use any of these, including the one above that I have used with my children for many years.
Settling down in my cozy bed
Thoughts are quiet in my head
The sun has set
The stars are bright
It's time to sleep now for the night
Settling down in my cozy bed
Thoughts are quiet in my head
Throughout the day
I did my best
to shine my heart
from east to west
The sun has set
The stars are bright
It's time to sleep now for the night
The ducklings snuggle into their nests
The kittens purr so softly
The puppies lay so close together
The cubs so tired yawn
And I, with my heart so full of love
Sleep now from dusk to dawn
Thank you for the gifts of the day
May they shine brighter and be
remembered more often
Sleep comes to me
my body settles
my spirit soars
with the stars
Night and Day
Sleep and Wake
In and Out
Moon and Sun
I close my eyes
and trust the rhythm
Closing the day, each evening, with your heartfelt presence and an evening verse, is a way to show up for your child consistently and to instill a sense of wonder and trust in a world that may be lacking both.
- Jennifer Ross
Did you know that Candlemas has been celebrated for centuries under different names? As with many festivals today, it has its roots in pagan culture. For example, today, we are more familiar with references to Groundhog Day as a way to mark the coming of spring. However, way before Groundhog Day, this marking of the year was referred to as Candlemas, part of the Christian tradition. But, of course, before the Christian tradition, this day was celebrated by the Celtic people and known as Imbolc. This was in celebration of Brigid, the Goddess of the Dawn.
Regardless of the festival's name, the intention is to celebrate the return of the light that becomes more noticeable on this day. Traditionally celebrated on February 2, it marks the halfway point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. In ancient times, this day was cause for great celebration, as our ancestors relied so heavily on what they could grow for their nourishment. The sun's return meant restored health and strength in the deepest sense of the word. As well, without the convenience of electricity, once the sun set each evening, candlelight was all they had. Today, we can still feel this cause for celebration when we live in the northern hemisphere. Winter is long and dark and can often lead to feelings of depression in people. Therefore, marking this point can bring a sense of hope.
To honour the return of the light, our ancestors built bonfires and made candles. On a practical level, preparing another batch of candles was needed to get through the final weeks of winter. Superstitions around weather on this day began to unfold. We know this today when we anticipate whether the groundhog will see its shadow. There were poems and songs in the days of old that referred to weather and what it meant if it was sunny or rainy that day.
Annual festivals are so important to help mark the passing of the year. For children, especially younger ones, the concept of time is challenging to grasp. Festivals are a very meaningful and memorable way to mark time, and Candlemas is a lovely tradition that is very enjoyable for children to celebrate today.
Celebrating Candlemas at Home
Here are some beautiful ways to celebrate Candlemas, and the coming of spring with your children.
Candle dipping is a fun and interactive activity that brings this celebration to life. You can easily make beeswax candles in your home or prepare a candle dipping station outside. You will need some old pots, beeswax pellets, and string for the wicks. Here's some detailed instructions to make dipped candles at home.
Candle Dipping Activity
This is a lovely reverent activity you can do while dipping your candles. Set your melted beeswax at one end of a table and a pot of water at the other. Walk slowly around the table, dipping your string in the beeswax at one end of the table and then in water at the other. Continue circling the table in this way until your candles are the width you would like. As you circle the table, you can sing the following Candlemas song:
We dip our candles in the big old tin,
And we wait a little bit for it to drip drop in.
We make enough to last the year,
To bring us joy and bring us cheer.
Around and around and around and around...
Recite Candlemas Verses
Here are a few verses you can say with your children as you light your candles.
A farmer should, on Candlemas Day,
Have half his corn and half his hay.
On Candlemas Day if the thorns hang adrop,
You can be sure of a good pea crop.
When Candlemas Day is bright with sun;
Then Winter’s power has just begun –
But when Candlemas Day is dark with rain
Then Winter’s power is on the wane!
This is a verse that relates Candlemas to Groundhog Day:
Badger peeps out on Candlemas Day,
and if he finds snow, he walks away.
But if the sun is shining down,
Badger returns to his hole in the ground.
Other Ideas for Celebrating Candlemas
Since Candlemas is a time for new beginnings, this is a good day to get creative and celebrate all that is new.
10 Fun Homeschool Activities that your Child will Love and, Shhh! They Link to Learning Outcomes too!
Hey Parents! After you have been a super hero and guided your child through the Daily Wonder morning lesson, maybe you want to take a step back, maybe you have to attend to your regular job, or maybe you need a coffee break. Whatever the reason, learning does not have to stop. In fact, learning is an ongoing process, and Daily Wonder will show you how easy it is to connect regular homeschool activities like free-play and everyday life experiences with your Ministry of Education Big Ideas and Learning Outcomes!
1. Build with Lego
Applied Design, Skills and Technologies
Grades 1-3: Big Idea/Concept: Designs grow out of natural curiosity
Grades 4-5: Big Ideas/Concepts: Designs can be improved with prototyping and testing. Skills are developed through practice, effort and action.
2. Bake Muffins!
Grade 1: Big Idea/Concept: Addition and subtraction with numbers to 10 can be modeled concretely, pictorially, and symbolically to develop computational fluency.
Grade 3: Big Idea/Concept: Fractions are a type of number that can represent quantities.
Grade 5: Adjust the recipe and learn this Big Idea/Concept: Numbers describe quantities that can be represented by equivalent fractions.
3. Clean Your Room!
Grade 1-3: Big Ideas/Concepts: Strong communities are the result of being connected to family and community and working together toward common goals. Everything we learn helps us to develop skills. Communities include many different roles requiring many different skills.
4. Family Meeting Time
Grades 4-5: Big Ideas/Concepts: Strong communities are the result of being connected to family and community and working together toward common goals. Leadership requires listening to and respecting the ideas of others.
Grades 6-7: Big Ideas/Concepts: Practicing respectful, ethical, inclusive behaviour prepares us for the expectations of the workplace. Leadership represents good planning, goal setting, and collaboration.
5. Climb a Tree!!
Grades 1-3: Big Idea/Concept: Confidence develops through the process of self-discovery
6. Make a Healthy Snack!
Physical and Health Education
Grades 1-3: Big Idea/Concept: Knowing about our bodies and making healthy choices helps us look after ourselves.
7. Work Through an Emotional Outburst!
Physical and Health Education
Grade1: Big Idea/Concept: Good health comprises physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Grades 2-3: Big Idea/Concept: Having good communication skills and managing our emotions enables us to develop and maintain healthy relationships.
8. Work Through Social Conflict with Friends
Physical and Health Education
Grade 1: Big Idea/Concept: Good health comprises physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Grades 2-3: Big Idea/Concept: Having good communication skills and managing our emotions enables us to develop and maintain healthy relationships.
9. Participating in the Digital World
Physical and Health Education and Career Education
Grades 6-7: Big Ideas/Concepts: Our personal digital identity forms part of our public identity. Practicing respectful, ethical, inclusive behaviour prepares us for the expectations of the workplace.
Applied Design Skills and Technology
Grades 1-3: Big Idea/Concept: Technologies are tools that extend human capabilities.
Grades 4-5: Big Idea/Concept: Skills are developed through practice, effort, and action.
Grades 6-7: Big Ideas/Concepts: Design can be responsive to identified needs.
Complex tasks require the acquisition of additional skills.
Stay tuned for new activities and life lessons to be shared on the Hub!!
Anthroposophist, mystic, and teacher, Claudia McLaren Lainson explains the Holy Nights:
"In the darkness of Winter’s night, when the great breath of the Earth Mother finds its greatest point of inhalation, human beings are afforded the grace to touch into both magic and miracle. In the pause between her mighty in-breath and out-breath there is a still-point of rest. This still-point has long been known as the Holy Nights. In these blessed Nights, the angels circle the globe as if in a great cosmic dance. They long to speak to listening human hearts. Throughout the ages the ‘listening ones’ on earth have heard the angelic choir; they have received messages of Peace and Love. What is received during these sacred days and nights, resounds a thousand-fold in the year that follows. In this year before us, a great light is striving to find willing human hearts. May we each be the ‘listening ones’ during these Holy Nights. May we work with angels."
Claudia McLaren Lainson is a teacher and Therapeutic Educator. She has been working in the field of Anthroposophy since 1982, when she founded her first Waldorf program in Boulder, Colorado. She lectures nationally on various topics related to spiritual science, human development, the evolution of consciousness and the emerging Christ and Sophia mysteries of the twenty-first century.
The time between December 24th and January 6th offers a period of time in the year, when the veil between the earthly and spiritual world is thinned. This is the time to reflect and meditate on the year that is coming to an end, and to gather wisdom for co-creating your upcoming year with your higher self and spirit guides.
Whoa! That’s a tall order, you may say. Indeed it is! I have taken this meditation on now for 6 years, and each year I take it one step deeper. I believe it starts simply with an awareness of this opportunity, and an intention to take a moment each day to consider or be open to the virtue that is highlighted on this day.
You can trust that the depth in which you experience this opportunity is exactly as it should be.
So how do you do this? We've made it easy for you. See below for 12 days of virtues for you to read each day and reflect on. Your work is to consider how each virtue plays out in your life, generally, and then specifically over the year that is coming to an end. Were there highlights that put this virtue into practice? Were there moments when this virtue could have been strengthened?
When you reflect back over the year, begin with the most recent month of December, and work backwards. Each night you will go back one more month, so that you are reviewing your year in rewind. This act of reflecting backwards elevates our everyday thinking and shifts our awareness to a higher level of observation and reflection.
Once you have a feeling for how this virtue is playing out in your life, you can set an intention for how you would like to deepen or strengthen your connection to this virtue, and a vision of how that might look in your life, and a feeling as to how this will feel for you.
The power of holding the image and feeling will take you deeper into co-creating your upcoming year.
The Stars once spoke to Humankind
It is World Destiny that they are Silent now
To be aware of the Silence
Can become painful for Earthly Human
But in the Deepening Silence
There Grows and Ripens
What Humans Speak to the Stars
To be aware of this Speaking
Can become Strength for Spirit Human
Day 1- LOVE (December 24th)
Love is the meaning of life on earth. Take time to ponder the ways in which you express your love for yourself, your family, romantic intimate partner(s), community, humanity. Be open to visions of how you would like to expand this love into the next year.
Reflect on December 2021, and your experiences.
Day 2- DISCRETION (December 25th )
We learn that there are times to hold our thoughts and feelings to ourselves, and there are times to choose to share them. Not everything, positive or negative in experience, needs to be shared. In silence, the flowering of discretion becomes an ever-deepening meditative force of contemplation. Be open to visions of how you would like to expand your ability to be STILL into the next year.
Reflect on November 2021, and your experiences.
Day 3- COURAGE (December 26th )
It takes courage to overcome our soul resistance to change. It takes courage to create a future of goodness. Courage, the ability to take on actions and experiences that cause fear. The ability to overcome our resistance, and our fears, and bring more love. Be open to visions of how you would like to expand your ability to be COURAGEOS into the next year.
Reflect on October 2021, and your experiences.
Day 4- SELF-DISCIPLINE (December 27th )
When we practice parenting our inner Self, we find that we must bring a balance of love and acceptance for where we are at in our evolution, and the healthy push to become more self-disciplined. When we practice self-discipline in our thoughts, speech and actions, this leads to deeper knowledge of our self and other. Be open to visions of how you would like to expand your ability to be SELF-DISCIPLINED into the next year.
Reflect on September 2021, and your experiences.
Day 5- PATIENCE (December 28th )
1Patience is wisdom paired with will power. When patience is practiced, it leads to the gift of spiritual insight. Be open to visions of how you would like to expand your ability to be PATIENT into the next year.
Reflect on August 2021, and your experiences.
Day 6- CONTENTMENT (December 29th )
When we practice contentment, a feeling of peacefulness in any situation, it brings us the blessing of equanimity. Can I be content with the current moment, even if it is uncomfortable? Be open to visions of how you would like to expand your ability to be CONTENT into the next year.
Reflect on July 2021, and your experiences.
Day 7- REVERENCE (December 30th )
This is reverence that is honoring a courteous, tactful heart. This encourages the ability to communicate with kindness and love. To add to this pondering, this day also honours the spiritual nourishment and digestion that is taking place through this whole meditative process. We are digesting the year and nourishing our way forward. Be open to visions of how you would like to expand your ability to be REVERENT into the next year.
Reflect on June 2021, and your experiences.
Day 8-COMPASSION (December 31st )
Compassion asks us to hold the future of each person as positive and illuminated. Compassion leads to freedom, as we harbor no ill will within us for another. Be open to visions of how you would like to expand your ability to be COMPASSIONATE into the next year.
Reflect on May 2021, and your experiences.
Day 9- EMPATHY (January 1st)
Here we are reflecting on our capacity for empathy. When we practice selflessness, we are led to an inner awakening. We feel the connection between our Self and the Other, and we become more attune, and more sensitive. Be open to visions of how you would like to expand your ability to be EMPATHETIC into the next year.
Reflect on April 2021, and your experiences.
Day 10- PERSEVERANCE (January 2nd )
This is the virtue of perseverance to fulfill our soul’s destiny leading us to True Faith. When we feel an inner calling, an inner knowing that we have work to do upon this earth, we have the inner will and steadfastness to work ceaselessly throughout our lives. This inner knowing that we are called to bring to life, is our True Faith in the meaning and purpose of our life. In this way, we each bring our gift to the world, and to the people linked to us by our destiny. Be open to visions of how you would like to expand your ability to PERSEVERE into the next year.
Reflect on March 2021, and your experiences.
Day 11- INNER BALANCE (January 3rd )
This is inner balance of soul, body and spirit. It also refers to the balance of our outer work with our inner life. When we find balance in these realms, this leads us to our soul’s progression along our spiritual path. Be open to visions of how you would like to expand your ability to be INWARDLY BALANCED into the next year.
Reflect on February 2021, and your experiences.
DAY 12- DEVOTION (January 4th )
We contemplate devotion that leads to self-sacrifice. When we devote ourselves to something greater than ourselves, we feel the power of self-sacrifice, and in this way we serve human evolution. Be open to visions of how you would like to expand your ability to feel DEVOTED into the next year.
Reflect on January 2021, and your experiences.
DAY 13-INTEGRATION (January 5th )
This night is known as Holy Epiphany in the Christian tradition, but if Christianity does not resonate with you, than this is your own Soul Epiphany that has come from pondering and meditating on your year that has passed and the year you are beginning. All of the virtues are now integrated through the force of Divine Love. We can see the year as a whole and have prepared the foundation for the coming year.
May you each find the sacred place within yourself that allows you to perceive with the eyes and ears of the Divine. You are gathering in community with many who share your perceptions and will work with you on transcendent and holy ways. You are not alone.
Know that there is New Life Awakening within your heart that will bless each day of 2022.
- Jennifer Ross
Seasonal festivals serve to connect humanity with the rhythms of nature. For children, these festivals mark the seasons with joy and anticipation for preparing for these celebrations.
No matter what your faith, this is a guide to celebrating Advent.
Advent takes place on the four Sundays that lead up to Christmas. Many people celebrate Advent and do not celebrate Christmas at all. The two need not be linked.
What is Advent?
Advent is about the spirit of peace, warmth, light, and gentle preparation. Although associated with Christianity, Advent was celebrated initially by Pagan communities to honour the weeks leading up to the Winter Solstice. The winter holiday season, in most of the major religions, shares the theme of bringing light and warmth into the dark, and this is expressed by physically lighting up the darkness with candles and holiday lights, as well as by sharing the light of company, family, food, and traditions of giving. In what can often be a stressful time of year for families, Advent offers a slower, kinder rhythm and an inwardly richer view.
In your family, you can use the traditions of Advent, whether its meaning is bringing light and warmth or also in anticipation of Christmas
How can you celebrate Advent at home?
In Waldorf education, each week of Advent is assigned a "theme" and is a time for reflection and gratitude for the four natural kingdoms on Earth.
Week 1: stones & minerals
Week 2: plants
Week 3: animal kingdom
Week 4: humankind
A simple first step to bringing Advent to your family could be to light a candle each night (or once a week on the four Sundays leading up to Christmas), say the verse lines for that week and read stories that focus on that week's theme. You could also bring rocks to place around your candle in the first week, followed by something to represent the rest of the themes during those weeks.
Waldorf/Steiner Verse for Advent: (Beginning the first week, you speak the first two lines, then the second week, you build upon the first by saying the first two lines and adding the next two, etc. By the fourth week, you are saying all eight lines of the verse).
The first light of Advent is the light of stones.
Stones that live in crystals, seashells, and bones.
The second light of Advent is the light of plants.
Plants that reach up to the sun and in the breezes dance.
The third light of Advent is the light of beasts.
The light of hope that we see, in the greatest and the least.
The fourth light of Advent is the human light.
The light of hope and of thought, to know and do what's right.
St. Nicholas Day
St. Nicholas Day is December 6th, after the first week of Advent. St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, encourages generosity, kindness and the idea that it is better to give than receive. Please read more about it HERE if you wish to bring this part of Advent to your family.
After the second week of Advent, the Celebration of Santa Lucia, also known as the festival of lights, happens. Traditionally, a young woman would represent Santa Lucia, and on the morning of December 13th, wearing a white dress with a red sash and a wreath on her head with seven candles upon it, she would go from house to house bringing baked goods. The candles of her headpiece brought a welcoming light to the darkest time of year. You can read more about it HERE
The gift of the light
We shall thankfully take
But it shall not be alone for our sake.
The more we give light,
The one to the other,
It grows and gives light,
And shines even farther.
Until every heart,
By love set aflame
In every place
Great joy shall proclaim.
Not long shall continue the darkness of year.
The light draws near.
The Advent Spiral happens on the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice. Cedar boughs (a symbol of life everlasting) are placed in a spiral forming a path in a darkened room. In the centre of the spiral, there is a large lit candle. With an unlit candle in hand, children and parents take turns walking the path in silence to the centre, where they light their candle and then place it with care along the path as they slowly exit the spiral. As more and more candles are lit, their gentle light begins to glow with the warmth of your family. The reverence of children and parents makes this traditional event one of inspiration and harmony. We are nearing the end of our journey through the darkness, internally and externally, and the light will soon return. This light will bring the promise of a new year that we will approach with a renewed sense of self and emerge from the darkness transformed.
There are so many ways to celebrate Advent and count down to Christmas. Here are a few we found, but you could easily do some more research and find something that would work for your family.
"I carry a light within me
A brightly burning flame.
Though dark may try to win me
It ever shines the same.
It guides me through uncertainty
It warms the wintry weather.
And brings to every burden
The lightness of a feather."
Since Autumn began, there has been a steady diminishing of the sunlight in our lives. This yearly transition has been calling us to kindle the light within ourselves. We have talked about the Festival of Courage in September as a way to ignite a flame that brings courage into the coming darkness. We then discussed celebrating the Festival of Compassion or the Lantern Festival in November as a way to honour the light we have been carrying within us and how that expands and burns brighter in our communities.
Many religions around the world acknowledge this season as the time for the Festival of Light. Each day since Fall began has been a step closer to the darkest day of the year. The beautiful thing about the Winter Solstice is that the darkest night also marks the beginning of the light's slow return. In ancient days, darkness would have brought fear and uncertainty, so marking this time with firelight brought hope and warmth to all. In our modern time, although we have knowledge and certainty that the light will return, it can still be challenging psychologically to manage this darkness with patience. Festival and ritual are a way of marking these important moments in the darkness and creating stepping stones that we can follow back to the light.
Daily Wonder encourages families to explore and learn about the variety of Festivals of Lights around the world. The best way to learn about a new festival is to connect with friends, neighbours and community members who celebrate a different holiday than yourself. If that's not an option for you, check out these links below to learn how to experience various festivals. Connecting with food, music, and ritual is the best way to do this.
Here are a few Festivals of Light that happen around this time of year.
Diwali - India
Follows the Lunar Calendar and is celebrated at the end of October / early November
Diwali is India’s most important festival of the year—a time to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil and the eradication of dark shadows, negativity, and doubts from our lives. It is a celebration of prosperity in which people give gifts to their loved ones. The festival also sends the message of illuminating our inner selves with clarity and positivity. During this festival, people clean their homes, decorate every corner with lights, lamps, flowers, and candles. You can learn more about this festival and ways to celebrate here.
Follows the Lunar Calendar and is celebrated in November / December
A festival celebrated by Jews worldwide, it is observed for a period of eight nights and days anywhere between the end of November and December. Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights or the Feast of Dedication. This holiday celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Maccabean revolt against the Syrian-Greek army. Each night, a candle is lit on the Menorah, which has nine candlesticks — one for each night of Hanukkah and an extra one to light the others. Other traditions include playing Dreidel, eating fried latkes, giving gifts and playing/singing Hanukkah music. You can learn more about this festival and ways to celebrate here.
December 26 - January 1
Kwanzaa was started in 1966 by Dr. Karenga to bring African Americans together as a community. Celebrations often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a traditional meal. Kwanzaa takes place over seven nights. On each of the seven nights, one of the candles on the Kinara (candleholder) is lit, and one of the seven principles is discussed. The principles, called the Nguzo Saba (seven principles in Swahili), are values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing community among African-Americans. You can read more about this festival including the seven principles here.
Chinese Lantern Festival
Celebrated on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month, the Lantern Festival traditionally marks the end of the Chinese New Year.
The Chinese Lantern Festival began over 2,000 years ago. The Lantern Festival is the first full moon night in the Chinese calendar, marking the return of spring and symbolizing the reunion of family. Traditional celebrations include enjoying lanterns, lantern riddles, eating tangyuan, a.k.a. yuan xiao (ball dumplings in soup), lion dances, dragon dances, etc. You can learn more about this festival and ways to celebrate here.
When learning about a new cultural or religious festival, genuine interest and wonder allow us to explore cultures other than our own with appreciation, reverence and honour. Through this open-hearted learning journey, we teach our children about the incredible diversity and similarities of our human experience.
Explore schedules, rhythms & routines, songs, music, festivals, free play, meals, projects & more to support your homeschooling program.
The Wonder Squad