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My son and I recently attended a production of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol staged by a local Waldorf school. The production was fantastic. Imaginative use of the theater space, the introduction of natural elements such as tree branches and the introduction of songs focusing on poverty and compassion added to the production. It was yet another reminder of the importance of Unitarian Charles Dickens important contributions to the evolution of Christmas sentiments. In fact, on Christmas Eve, I am contemplating going to a special Unitarian lecture on the topic of Dicken’s secular contributions to the season. Ordinarily, I would bypass an event due to my son’s activity levels. However, his behavior during the stage production show that he does have the stamina and overall ability to sit quietly for an extended period of time.

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My son (Eshu) and I visited our first Waldorf private school. We went on the occasion of a newspaper clipping given to me by a friend. The newspaper clipping in no way conveyed the fun and excitement to be had, so I am very happy that we took the risk and went. What a thrill. As one would expect, the school was hidden away in woods in the middle of nowhere. It is accessible only by a long, winding road up a hill. At the top of that hill, one is presented with a building that is half- rustic barn and half- ultra-contemporary. It looked quite a bit more like a museum than a school. The interior was even more impressive. It was painted in a variety of heavenly pastels and adorned with various natural objects, children’s wet-on-wet watercolor paintings and art made from wood and other natural objects. The layout also deviated from the utilitarian norm seen in most schools. I absolutely adored it.

The events themselves were equally impressive. There was a crystal cave hidden away behind a door painted with a mural of the Starkind. For those who don’t know, this is the tale of an orphan girl who wanders through the woods on a cold. winter’s night. Though she has nothing more than the clothes on her back, she does not hesitate to give them away to another who is freezing. The stars looking down on her then shower her with gold coins as a sign of their approval. Anyway, the crystal cave “door” opened up on a small room with walls decorated in tree branches and faux birds. The floor was covered with a snow like fabric and a bridge lead visitors over the snow to a little pond and waterfall scene situated by a white cave in which a snow queen was sleeping. A girl dressed in a fairy costume read visiting children a story from a handmade book, invited the children to sail waternut shells in the pond and encouraged them to sing the queen awake. Accomodating children were then rewarded with a precious stone or crystal on their way out. There was also a song and piano recital, a cakewalk, a circus of some sort, a German woman telling stories and a fantastic puppet show. The puppet show was so magical that it completely changed my way of approaching the subject. We will be having many of these types of inspired shows in the home, now that I have seen how they are done.

Finally, the faire also had an array of vendors selling natural clothing, imported wooden toys, original artwork and other treasures. I spent a great deal of time shopping while my son got his face painted. Can’t go anywhere nowadays without facepainting. The pictures are quite bad, but he is supposed to have a Winter Frost theme to him.

King of Winter (1)

King of Winter (1)

King of Winter (2)

King of Winter (2)

Dinoman is a one-man show that features a blend of stand-up comedy, lessons about paleontology and life-size, inflatable dinosaurs. Dinoman stopped by our local library and thrilled both children and parents alike. The overall message seems to be science is cool, and that in and of itself was a valuable lesson for my son. I highly recommend Dinoman for everyone.

I was fortunate enough to notice that a library in the area was hosting an educational Pow Wow. My family has some Cherokee and Iroquois lineage, and there is enthusiasm in some parts of my family for Native American culture. While the enthusiasm escaped me to some extent, I have gone to Pow Wows and other venues showcasing the culture. Consequently, I wanted my son to have some familiarity with Pow Wows, and I decided the time was now, as it dovetailed naturally with my upcoming lessons on the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving. The Pow Wow itself was simple and quite fun. I wouldn’t really call it a Pow Wow. It was more of a historical presentation on the role and nature of Pow Wows in the culture. After a brief lesson with pictorial aides, children were allowed to play with drums and other instruments as all presents joined in a simple circle dance.

Pow Wow

Pow Wow

We made a second trip to a neighboring library to attend a book sale and a Halloween storytime. Well, the book sale consisted of nothing more than a bunch of old lady like romances and mysteries. I couldn’t muster up the desire to buy a single book even though they were all priced at a quarter. How sad. Storytime was a bit of a surprise, too. Somehow, the Halloween choice was “Jack and the Beanstalk.” I just don’t see the connection. My son liked it sufficiently, and he got a Halloween treat bag. Free goodies always win people over in any situation. They tried. We will definitely go back in the future, but we will set our expectations low. LOL.

Not So Spooky Storytime

Not So Spooky Storytime

The local library has some sort of city wide kid’s book club that promotes the reading of specific books to the entire community. Recently, the library chose to recommend votes after young library patrons first voted from among six or so choices. The winning choice was The Sisters Grimm. Apparently this book or the original Brothers Grimm writings were the inspiration for the library Halloween party. All three floors of the library were decked out with scenes from Grimm stories. The first floor had various carnival-type games (e.g., ring tosses) and decorated stations from which children could get candy from costumed teens. The second floor had more carnival games secreted among the rows of books. A side room was set aside for the making of crafts. A DJ took over a large room and blasted Halloween favorites such as Thriller and Ghostbusters. The basement floor containing the children’s reading room was done over with a haunted woods theme. Children and parents were lead through the “woods” by a teen “huntsman.” It was quite a production and surprisingly harrowing for a library haunted house event.

Trick or Treat in the Library

Trick or Treat in the Library

Haunted Library Cont.

Haunted Library Cont.

Haunted Library Cont.

Haunted Library Cont.

The Halloween Howl was a fantastic party event also hosted by the local library. The “Howl” featured a singer who wowed the kiddie crowd with an array of songs, games and puppets. The songs ranged from the simple ABC song to vintage Patti Page to pre-recorded party music such as La Bamba. At least one song was performed by the singer and her accompanying ventriloquist and other songs were illustrated with various puppets. When the focus was not on singing, children enjoyed the limbo, tossing beach balls to Beach Boy style music to shaking maracas and chasing bubbles. Once the uproar from the party style music died down, the singer reappeared as a witch and performed various Halloween related skits with spooky puppet characters. Everyone needs a little “Halloween Howl” in their lives. 🙂

Pre-Howl...

Pre-Howl...

Howl!

Howl!

Monster Puppet

Monster Puppet

The library has become our best friend lately. One of the more no-frills, no-thrills offerings is a drop-in crafting table. One can literally drop-in to a side room, look at some crafting project examples and walk out with a handful of free supplies. One then completes the craft(s) at home at his or her leisure. Here are two crafts made using examples from the drop-in crafts table.

Hanging Cat & Bear

Hanging Cat & Bear

We made an impromptu trip to the Boston Museum of Science. The MoS is a challenging environment for a four year old. However, we did manage to have some fun. My son was particularly interested in digging for dinosaurs in a sandbox. He also had fun in a play area that uses familiar things like bikes and swings to teach scientific concepts. I couldn’t help but notice the stuffed owls in a glass case. While they appealed to me, my son didn’t find them so compelling.

Owls at the Museum of Science

Owls at the Museum of Science