A funny thing happened during the first week back to a school year rhythm. In the absence of firm plans and without the books we thought were coming, a bigtime rabbit trail was born. Mary Beth's plans from Oak Meadow were delayed, so she set about to find some copywork in A Journey Through Time. She was happy to find some delightful flower fairy poems from Cicely Mary Barker. She read the poems and chose one to copy and then drew a picture to accompany it.She decided she was going to work her way through all the fairy poems in the book. It just so happened that I was hanging out at amazon.com at the time and I just so happened to one-click this book.
Later that day, I read Christopher's Harvest Time aloud to a whole gang of my children. And I totally fell in love. This is right there near the top of my "favorite books of all time" list. The pictures are clear and lovely and the characters delightful. Every single child was taken with this book. Katie just loved that the boy fairy was named "September" because when you are about to turn five and your birthday is in September, any fairy named September is a friend of yours. Stephen and Nicholas followed Christopher's adventures utterly enraptured and were sorry to see them end. And Mary Beth was very happy to find still more botanical fairies rendered in a different artist's pictures. More botanical fairies...hmmm...
I tried to nudge Nicholas towards the drawings I'd done to go with the alphabet quest story from Christopherus' First Grade Syllabus. He wanted nothing to do with them--or the story. He'd heard me tell Katie and Gracie that it was "B" week and he'd heard a "B" themed fairy tale to go with their picture. Mr. Order dug in his heels and insisted that "B" was fine for him, too, since he could not possibly start with K, P, Q, and W (the letters I'd chosen to present). Oh, and by the way, he said, he already knows his letters and how to read and he found a coloring a book leftover from last year's fairy study and the "B" page just so happened to be yet uncolored. He spent the rest of the day copying that "B" fairy and recreating scenes from Christopher's story in his main lesson book.
The hours I'd spent at Google Calendar trying to get too many good ideas to form a coherent plan were rising to haunt me now. Why do I do this every year? Why do I think and think and think (though this year I didn't write intricate plans, I definitely thought them) and then dissolve into something altogether different than I'd thought it would be?
Because I listen to my children. And this year, they were hearing fairies.
They took up the beeswax and created Children of the Forest. They built more fairy houses in the backyard.They began to fashion felt folk who looked a lot like Woody, Hazel and Little Pip.
Soon, we decided to begin our days with "September" from Around the Year and recite it often enough to memorize it. They gathered acorns at Patrick's soccer game, all the while talking about the Acorn Fairy as if she were a familiar friend.
By now, enthusiasm was bubbling up and spilling over. Mary Beth was sharing her fairy-fondness with her friends and I was telling their mom all about my plans gone awry. Katherine had a little fairy dust in her pocket too and suddenly we were obsessed.
I found myself ordering botany nomenclature cards to go with my botanical fairies. I ordered a refill for my Klutz fairy-making book. We dusted off Fairy Houses and watched the video version as well. (Incidentally, the video was shot in New Zealand and we all know there are definitely fairies in New Zealand;-) I found fairies to teach us how to knit. My friend Rebecca assured me they would probably prefer knitting needles like these.
Did you know that Frederick Warne published Cicely Mary Barker's books, too? And she has a website as lovely as Beatrix Potter's. When you are there, you can learn the fairy code and write letters to friends in Texas. And those of us who love Beatrix Potter's Journal are equally delighted with Fairyopolis (same sized book, same idea--they're brilliant, those Warne boys;-) Those botany cards will work perfectly with the fairy finder. Type in your favorite fairy and learn its song, some folklore, and some botanical facts and some planting indications--that's if you can tear your eyes away from the whimsical pictures. Shhh...don't tell the children, but there's an awful lot to learn here.
(Oh, and what about the Christopherus syllabi and those from Oak Meadow? It's all good. I've learned so much and we will use it all in one form or fashion.The greatest lesson I learned is that big families can't do "Waldorf at Home" the same way smaller families can, nor can they replicate "Waldorf at school." And I'm not a Waldorf purist anyway, just like I'm not a Charlotte Mason purist. But that's the stuff of future posts. Right now, I have a fairy house to tend)
While I appreciate the beauty, the materials and some of the methods of Waldorf education, I am not a follower of Rudolf Steiner, his educational philosophy, or his religion. I am a practicing Catholic who is very clear in teaching the faith to her children. Please see this post for any further explanation of incorporating methods or materials that might also appear in Waldorf schools into your home. Take inspiration from what is good and what in in harmony with the true faith and leave the rest. If you can't discern, then leave it all alone.