Monday, March 28, 2011

Why we love Fairytales...

Albert Einstein observed, "If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be geniuses, read them more fairy tales. When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking."

Some parents worry that fairytales will scare their children, or even provide "sexist" role models.  However, I have found (using traditional not Disney-fied versions) that they provide rich food for the mind and allow discussions about feelings to be expressed.  Fariy tales speak to a place deep within us, or from the "subconscious" as Jung would say.  Unlike movies or television they allow the imagination to do it's own work, teaching us about ourselves and the world we create around us.

In is book The Power of Stories Horst Kornberger, a writer, artist and Steiner-Waldorf teacher explores the power of particular stories such as Odysseus, Parsifal, Oedipus, Bible stories and fairy tales, and  explains how to apply that power to help a child develop, or to heal and transform a child with difficulties. He also includes ideas on how to create new stories to help children with particular needs, and shows storytelling to be a universal gift that we can use to benefit those around us. This is a thoughful and inspiring book for teachers and parents wishing to take a deeper look at the purpose of the fairytale.

We are always adding more fairytales to our collection...

What was your favourite fairytale as a child?  Mine was Goldilocks and the Three Bears!

I am reliving my childhood at the moment after discovering the most beautiful version of this treasured book by Gerard Muller, which is so much like the one I had as a child - it's just delightful! The old worldly illustrations include lots of wonderful extra detail for children to discover in the theme of big, medium and little:  big, medium, and little versions of birds, squirrels, mice, plates, umbrellas, slippers.  You discover something new each time you open the pages....just beautiful.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Twelve Blessings (and One in Disguise) of Childhood

The Third Blessing:  Generosity

By Amber Greene, Mama Moontime

Here is part 3 of a 13 part series, where we will delve into the delightful kingdom of childhood. Each month, we will receive a gift from the Wise Women who so blessed the young girl Briar Rose. Some of you may be more familiar with her common name, Sleeping Beauty. Enjoy!

A child is full of a generous heart. They long to share, and do share freely, no matter if you are their parent, friend or a stranger at the bus stop. Children are “noble-minded” and abundant, their love and friendship knows no boundaries.

The adult world of hurts and anger and dislike and fear and loathing, have yet to break the spirit of the child. The child can mend broken hearts and bruised egos just by being open and non-judgemental. They live to love, to cuddle, and spend time by your side. A child’s desire to laugh and play and run and swoop and swing and dodge and eat and cook and dance is matched only by their need and want for you to join them in the fun! They cannot understand our need to work, or clean or make phone calls. They know life is more than that, and desire to share this wondrous life of exploration and adventure with those who have seemingly lost their way. Most of us could pay more attention to their generous nature and heed their gifts!

Not only are children generous of their time and spirit, they too are generous with their curiosity. Never again do we see a fountain of desire sprout so highly in wanting to know every single little thing about the world. They want to know why the sky is blue, why the man over there has only one leg, why caterpillars and worms undulate like waves and the name of every single kind of truck. My son knows no bounds when it comes to sharing picture books or hearing me sing him songs. A child’s energy and will for living a ‘big life’ is unstoppable.

And if we are too busy and cannot answer them, or, purposefully leave a whisper of a breath before answering, their generous nature serves them once again. They make up their own answers! Little ones, so close to the angelic realm from whence they came, hold tight to the golden cable of imagination and creativity and Do Not Let Go. They swing from the cables, and delight in any and every possibility of thought and art. And it is here, in this moment, if we take time to heed their words, that we may be generously gifted with a golden drop of “truth”. Truth is a rare, yet wonderful, gift to treasure for life and children generously share.

So our goal as parents could be to preserve this generous heart. We can heed their natural gifts of childhood by striving to be more like them in nature. When we live by their rule of generosity, we become role models worthy of their imitation, and thus, living a generous life remains natural and normal. (What a wonderful paradox! This idea that by trying to be more like them, we actually help them to be the best they can be, full of beauty and goodness and generosity towards others. ) Our personal quest calls us to leave our preconceived ideas and hurts and endeavour to regain trust in the goodness of people, to know that things will work out for the best, to believe in our own abilities, to see the world of possibility and to recognise the abundant gifts in nature. If we were somehow able to reclaim our childhood generosity and bring it back as adults, just imagine the world we would be creating.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Old Freedom Train Alphabet Frieze

Old Freedom Train began when Shayne Jackman went searching for a Steiner / Waldorf alphabet frieze for her children's playroom, and couldn't find one…so she decided to make one herself.  Using colourful pencils in soft shades, to draw sweet images, was so soothing to the soul, energising and satisfying, that she decided to also make a book. Adding special words from her experience as a mother of children in a Steiner playgroup and pre-school seemed the perfect fit.

Steiner education introduces letters as “characters” that bridge from the picture consciousness of childhood to the abstract letters we know that symbolise various sounds.  This philosophy of reading has its roots in the way human beings developed a pictorial alphabet beginning with hieroglyphs and other symbolic pictures.  Children find it very easy to learn the alphabet in this way.  Watching my own children learn in this way has been richly rewarding.
Thank you Shayne, for creating such nourishing and alive images of the basics of language!
If you would like to purchase a copy you can find it in our website here and in store.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Anticipating Easter....our new window

The time leading up to Easter is one of my favourites of the whole year - the mornings are more often than not crisp and bright, the afternoon shadows are long and peaceful.  It's a beautiful time of the year to be outside with the family walking or bike riding - enjoying watching the trees slowly start to turn colour.  While in the Northern Hemisphere they see in Easter with traditional images of budding flowers, spring lambs and blossoms; in the Southern Hemisphere our images are of Autumnal tones:  oranges, yellows and reds mixed with the renewed sense of green after the long summer. 

Last week while walking through Westerfolds Park we saw several bunnies, white-tailing their way through the bush...perhaps that's not the best sight to see in the Australian bush, but still for me they always manage to conjure up the childhood magic of the Easter Bunny!  I spent the first 10 years of childhood in Venus Bay every Easter, and bunnies running through the seaside bracken were a regular and delightful sight!

Autumn tones and bunnies are therefore the inspiration this year for our Easter window.  The beautiful bunnies, hare and mother hen and her chicks, are all part of the lovely Folkmanis range of puppets.  I do love puppets for their ability to allow children to create a world and character out of themselves - every puppet always takes on a life of it's own.  Remember the beautiful story of the Velveteen Rabbit that came alive through the imagination and love of the child?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pancake Day!!!

Pancake Day always brings great excitement at our house and big decisions:  should we have pancakes for breakfast, afternoon tea or supper???  And shall we have lemon and sugar, fresh berries or real maple syrup???  We enjoy celebrating simple traditions like this in our home for the sense of rhythm they bring to our year.  Personally for me it calls in my favourite time of year:  Autumn, the lengthening of the afternoon light and the hush of the time before Easter.

Years ago when many people fasted for the forty days of Lent they would use up their eggs and milk the day before Ash Wednesday when Lent began.  In England this led to a Lenten-festival including pancake tossing races! All Year Round - a calendar of celebrations is a wonderful treasure trove of ideas for bringing meaningful traditions into your family life, and has a great pancake recipe as well!!!