Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Book Review: The Springs of Joy

This week's book review is "The Springs of Joy" by Tasha Tudor. While it is currently out of print, it might be at your local library. As of this writing, Alibris has some used copies for a nice price (this one for $1.99).

Like Tudor's other work, this one shines with breathtaking illustrations of a bygone era that many of us are striving to bring back in our modern world. It is not a storybook at all, but rather an inspirational collection of quotes and sayings from some of the world's most gifted writers (Twain, Hugo, Wordsworth, Emerson, Thoreau, Wilde, Whitman, Shaw, Poe, Blake, Stevenson, etc, etc) coupled with her rich illustrations. Many focus on character development and in her usual style, nature and animals abound (including lots of corgis, for those corgi lovers out there :D)

The copy of this book was a gift to me from my parents in 1981 and I am proud to say, was autographed by the amazing Ms. Tudor when she came to town for a book signing...

Here are but a few examples of the beauty of this lovely book...
Click on each picture to enlarge...

There's not much more to say on it as it entirely speaks for itself...It is a book that I will proudly share someday with my grandchildren and then gift to one of them.

Happy early May Day!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Update on Jakob Streit's Saint Nicholas Book

Thanks to the wonderful Cindy Walker at Whole Spirit Press, we were able to find out a bit more about bringing Streit's "Saint Nicholas" book back into print.

The copyright is held by Mercury Press and a very limited number of copies are available as of this moment. I was told this morning that once these are sold, they will reconsider whether or not the book will be brought back into print. I got the impression it was low on the totem pole :(

But if they won't reprint it, then perhaps Whole Spirit Press will be able to secure the rights to reprint it.

If you are interested in obtaining a copy, you may email them at:

Or call: 1-845-356-8494 ext. 420

They are part of the Steiner community in Chestnut Ridge, NY and were very hard to get a hold of. There is no online ordering available and the book is around $7.50. I just ordered a copy, so I will confirm that it is indeed the right book :D The price seems very low for this book. Again, they don't have many copies left and I was dissuaded from putting the word out there, but I know there are many who would love a chance to own a copy of this wonderful little book!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Earth Day Present...Little Pee Wee

This past Earth Day, we went to the recycling center to turn in our cans and bottles.

We then headed to one of the local nature centers to appreciate our beautiful Earth.

While we don't get a ton of rain in Southern Cal, this is the *rainy season* so it's nice to see the streams and waterfalls cascading, bringing life to an otherwise dry desert.

This is a path that leads to the waterfall. We were planning on seeing it, but got distracted by the rushing water.

The girls immediately headed down to it and wanted to try to scamper over the rocks and head upstream.

We were blessed to watch this beautiful woodpecker who was excited by what he found in that tree :D

Then we continued on our way.

The water called to the girls and we were delighted to find a little black tadpole swimming about. An earth day present :D

The girls did some light sketching in their nature journal.

We brought the little tadpole home so that we could watch it grow and change into a frog. I am not sure what species it is, but I wanted the girls to experience it and then be able to release it back into the wild. So here's our little guy.

The girls wanted to name him "Pee Wee", after a story I made up for them a couple years ago about a tiny runt frog named Pee Wee who went off into the world to explore, leaving the safety of his pond. Perhaps their dreams of Pee Wee came to fruition with this little one :D

My dad had purchased a bug/frog habitat for them years ago, though I wouldn't recommend it for tadpoles or frogs. It has several design flaws. I didn't send away for the tadpoles because you can't release them into the wild with the different ecosystems - and I wanted to share the joy of the release with the girls. I want this to be something that they come to not only accept, but honor.

So for now, Pee Wee is living quite happily in his little habitat. We did lots of reading on how to care for him and have since placed some real live underwater plants in his tank so that he will have enough oxygen. The tank is way too small for even the smallest air pump.

Every Friday, the girls are drawing a picture of Pee Wee in his habitat, to note the changes he is undergoing. It's been slow and since I don't know what species he is yet, I am not sure if his metamorphosis will take 6 weeks or 6 months. I guess Bull Frogs (which he certainly is not) can take up to 2 years to change!

So I'll post updates on Pee Wee through the weeks. I am hoping he stays happy and healthy so we can give him an amazing send off in several weeks! We had thought about getting a buddy for him, but I want to make sure I've got this down first. So far, he's been with us for 5 days and seems to be doing very well!

If anyone has any advice or has experience raising tads, I'd love to hear any suggestions or feedback you might want to share :D

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fun in the Bu

We spent this past weekend at my dad's. He lives close to Malibu so we like to go when we spend weekends at his home. The girls had fun jumping in the waves and looking for wildlife.

Here the girls are at El Matador Beach...and some inspiring wildlife and views...

And my dad and I enjoyed a long beach walk in The Colony the next day. His hobby is beach walking and he makes a wonderful guide as he studies the history and tales of various Southern California hot spots. The history of Malibu is really fascinating.

Interestingly enough, even though these homes belong to various celebrities and cost millions and millions of dollars, they are still one right next to the other. Beach front is prime.

I ended up taking mostly pictures of the ocean and animals. It never ceases to take my breath away and I love the clean ocean air.

Got my fill of Vitamin D this weekend :D

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Maths Block II: Gnome Plus (Add)

This past week, we introduced the Plus Gnome to the girls as we continued the story. Lucy and Phineas, led by the Ancient Wolf and Gnome Share, headed back over through the Pine Cone Forest (earth element) on the journey to get the children back home. Here are some of the activities we did this past week.

As they got deeper into the forest, they suddenly heard a voice shouting,
"Mine! Mine! Mine!
They're all Mine!"

And out came a chubby green gnome, his pockets bulging with gems.

He was rather friendly, but very suspicious that perhaps the children were going to want to take something that he found. He gathered his precious amethyst crystals and clung fast to them.

Gnome Share introduced the children to him and the girls told Gnome Plus the story of how the children came to this enchanted land.

We then were introduced to the process of adding through whole to parts, just placing gems in a container I had saved for math/sorting. We would start with a number and then divide it into the slots to see that it added up to the same number with which we began.

Gnome Share also convinced Gnome Plus to show us his treasure chest which was full of sparkling (glass) gems.

The girls were introduced to Gnome Plus' sign...

And we drew his picture in our Main Lesson Book.

In retrospect, I wish I would have bought larger MLB's for the younger years since it is hard for the children to space out their letters and make them small enough to fit in a space, so Elena ended up writing over her picture and at that point, I gave her a new page to write her verse on.

Since we only have one blackboard and they were copying it into their MLB's, I used my white board to show them some equations we did together. Charley then drew Gnome Plus & Gnome Share.

The story continued with the children showing Gnome Share and Gnome Plus the *runes* in Roman and Arabic numerals.

They each reached into the bag and took out a certain amount. They put them in numerical order and then counted out the appropriate number of gems to place underneath each number.

Again, I wrote out what they pulled out (later realizing five runes were quite a lot at this juncture so we scaled back to just three each)...

Soon, a donkey and two horses brought out more gems in bags from deep within Gnome Plus' mine so we had to count them.

We matched the numbers on the runes to the number of gems.

We then distributed them among the characters.

For a lot of fun (and I have to credit Marsha Johnson with this idea), we wrote our Plus sign in our sandscapes in all sorts of hilarious ways (chins, noses, elbows, feet, toes, etc) :D

We counted by twos again and jumped from beanbags up and down...

On our final day, I used inspiration from Ron Jarman's, "Teaching Mathematics in Rudolf Steiner Schools" and got down our well loved playscape that I made last year. Jarman has one problem that involves picking some apples off the tree and placing them into three piles that will add up to the number picked...

So we placed apples on the tree and two bunnies sat underneath. Some apples fell to the ground and the bunnies picked them up and counted them. They then placed them into piles for themselves and the other bunnies to share. We did several different exercises surrounding this.

And then we heard some noises and voices getting closer and closer as two gnomes (in Gnome Share & Gnome Plus) colors came out of their cave carrying piles of gold that they mined. (Gnomes were made by my wonderful sister and the gold was actually fish gravel spray painted with gold paint for a field trip we attended last year).

The gold was counted...

And we engaged in several more equations...

Afterwards, we drew in our MLB's - first the playscape scene and then the equations.

Over this week, we also continued our Grimm's number stories with 4,5,6: