Friday, May 22, 2015

May Lessons

We kickstarted May with our much awaited backpacking trip along the Sespe River:

This month also marked the beginning of our learning about the Chumash. We read a book called "Badger Claws of Ojai" about a young Chumash boy who grew up in Ojai but whose Aunt and Uncle lived by the sea, probably in Carpinteria.

Here are the pictures the girls drew of young Badger Claws.

The gist of the story is that a young Chumash boy named Badger Claws is eager to become a brave. He lives with his grandmother because his parents have died. He spies on the sweat lodge ceremony by hiding behind a boulder, but he is caught by the Shaman. This lands Badger Claws in trouble because only the men of the village are allowed to participate in the ceremony. It is decided that Badger Claws will have to move to the sea to live with his aunt and uncle, unless he can prove that he is a man by living out on his own for three moons. He accepts this challenge and lives on his own out in the mountains along the Sespe (Yes! Just where we were backpacking!). He makes his own fire, catches and finds his own food, and builds himself a shelter. He makes friends with the animals around him, including an orphaned raccoon and a doe and her fawn. When the shaman returns three moons later, he is impressed with Badger Claws but tells him there is more to the challenge: Badger Claws will have to prove he can take care of his village by bringing his people big game and by bringing them another gift that will help them. I won't spoil the ending, but I highly recommend the book, especially if you live in the area.

Another book we are reading this month is "Song of the Seven Herbs":

The big excitement at our house was the house finch nest that hung in my gardening bag right outside our front door. We got to watch the whole process, from hatchlings to fledglings, to the next round of eggs:

This month was also full of crafts and fun. We separated the seeds from our cotton fluff, made flower ice cubes with the star flowers from our borage plants, dyed silk with the garden lobelia, made play dough and flying owls, added yoga to our nighttime ritual, went hiking and famping (fake camping, where you hang out all day at the camp site and cook dinner there, but then go home and sleep in your own bed) and played in the mud:

We took a field trip up to Gaviota to pick blueberries (just past the tunnel, on your right):

Then stopped at the farm stand on the way back to pick strawberries and chard, feed the animals, and pick up some organic produce:

We were gone all day! By the time we got home it was too late to make a pie, so we had berries and whipped cream for dessert. The next morning we set to work on our pie:

A challenge for me this month has been letting go. I want to do much, much more than I am capable of doing. One example is the kids' meals. I want to make them beautiful meals from scratch every day. Some days this happens, but sometimes I just can't get it together. The other morning I had set out to make muffins, but Jupiter was cranky and Lyra was starving. Frozen waffles to the rescue! I was feeling a little defeated when Lyra got the great idea to make them fancy. She skipped out to the garden to collect star flowers and pansies, and we put some of our violet syrup on them. It completely transformed breakfast into a dish fit for a princess!

Last month's challenge, math, was still a little challenging, but at least we are making some progress. The math games we've done this month are "Shut the Box", Dominos, and lots of fun with Montessori cuisenaire rods:

We are preparing for a graduation ceremony to usher Isla on to first grade. This is a big step, and we want to send her into it with confidence and excitement. I think after graduation (which will be early next month) we will concentrate on reading, writing and math, mostly through the games suggested in the Peggy Kaye books "Games for Reading", "Games for Writing" and "Games for Math". It is an ambivalent dance I'm doing, trying not to stress her out or force any learning while also trying to get her up to speed academically so she begins her school year on a positive note in the fall. I am wobbling between a Waldorf method and something more mainstream and with very limited time for lesson planning I am relying on intuitive instruction, for better or worse. My goal for next month is to come back to a rhythm in our home, for everyone's sake.

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