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Mindfulness…Enso Meditation

This morning we tried another painting meditation, enso. Enso is the Japanese word for circle, so this is a painting of a circle. But it is so much more than that. The enso symbolizes the universe and the void, strength, elegance, and enlightenment. So when you paint an enso you are doing it as a meditation to not only focus your mind but gain self confidence as well. I learned about this painting over at Here We Are Together.

I started out by cutting white cardstock in half to make small sheets. I was going to use watercolor paper but my stash was low and I knew I would need a lot. I ended up with about forty half sheets of paper.

We started our meditation painting by lighting a candle, getting out our watercolor paints, and finding some relaxing music on Pandora Radio. We recited our focusing verse while taking  three breathes.

I am breathing in

I am breathing out

I am happy 

Oh so happy

I explained that we would be painting circles with our paints. I told them to breathe and paint their circle with one brush stroke. Then we began. They started quietly painting as I told them and then they began to experiment. They began painting with two colors, adding dots, placing them in different spots on the paper, and painting wide or skinny ensos. We did this for almost an hour with no complaint. And when they were done they went away happy. Here are some pictures from our painting meditation.

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We decided to make a wall display of all of our ensos and I think it turned out beautifully.

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After our first experience I know we will be doing this again some time soon.

Namaste

 

 

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Mindfulness….Salt Mandalas

Lately, I have been trying to be more mindful. I realized that sometimes I am busy thinking about something coming up and not being in the moment so I have been reading up on mindfulness and meditation. My friend and yoga instructor Heidi lent me a book called, Child’s Mind, which is a children’s book of mindfulness practices. This book has been a wonderful way for me to get started in meditation and it has given me some fun activities to introduce mindfulness and meditation to my kids. We have been using some activities from the book and all of my kids really enjoy them and ask to play them more than once.

I have also found a great site called called Here We Are Together. She has a bunch of posts on mindfulness and meditation with children. One of her recent posts was about water color painting on salt mandalas. I decided to try it and it went very nicely.

I started by using glue to make mandala patterns on white cardstock. I made enough for two per person, including me.  I did this the night before so they would dry and be ready for painting in the morning.

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I sprinkled salt on the glue right after I made each design. Make sure the salt covers the glue well because the watercolor paint does not stick to glue. I poured off the extra salt to save for the next mandala.

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The next day we got out our water colors, a candle, and some relaxing music I found on Pandora Radio. We took three slow breathes while saying

I am breathing in

I am breathing out

I am happy

Oh so happy

Then we quietly painted and listened and thought. Here are some pictures of our painting session.

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Everyone was relaxed after this activity and they all went off and played together nicely while I made lunch. I will defiantly be making some more to have on hand for anytime the energy gets high and we need a calming activity. I hope you all try this.

Namaste

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Homeschool Lesson Helpers

My children are ages 3, 5, and 8 and as homeschoolers we do a lot of learning together. Many things work well with everybody, like stories, science projects, songs, seasonal activities, and even history. I find that each child takes away different things from our lessons depending on their age. But some things don’t work for the group. I have different math and reading activities for each of the kids so I work one-on-one with them. During this time, I find the other two want something to do too. In the past, I have tried audiobooks, computer time, coloring, and playing in the other room but I found something new, busy bins.

I have one big red bin for each child with their name on it. Inside their bin is a worksheet and another fun activity. The bin below if for Liam, 3 years old. He does not get a worksheet but sometimes I include plain paper and crayons. In the bin is a hammer, golf tees, and a hard piece of foam packaging. He spent a long time hammering the tees in and pulling them out. I get a lot of idea for Liam at this site, which is all about Montessori activities.

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This bin is for Delaney, 5 years old. She has  a sheet to practice writing out her numbers and a lLite-Brite. For part of her one-on-one lesson we worked on patterns. I had her make patterns on the Lite-Brite and then she could make anything she liked.

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This bin is for Killian, 8 years old. He has connectagons to make 3-D shapes. He also has a math and phonics sheet which didn’t make it into the bin before I took the pictures.

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I have used many things in these bins including puzzles, sorting manipulatives, tangrams, magnet play, secret codes, and legos. I put something different in the bins each week so I don’t have to worry about switching them everyday. If someone gets board with what they have I let them color or use things in  one of the other two bins, the kids don’t mind sharing if it is their turn at the board. 

Some day I may need to try something new but for now these bins are a great way to keep everyone occupied and on task while I am working one-on-one.

Homeschooling, as ever changing as life itself.

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Story Table

At our house we tell a lot of stories. We do this by telling stories out loud, using a puppet theater, acting them out, and using our story table. The story table is our favorite way to tell stories and after the story is told, all are able to play out the story again or create new stories. The month of October we are using a story from Juniper Tree Puppetry about little Willow Witch. Juniper Tree Puppetry has a wonderful newsletter that sends out a story each month for you to use. We told the original story the first day and then added on to it through the month.

The story starts with Willow Witch in her pumpkin patch. She wishes for a baby and finds one behind the biggest pumpkin. She names her Pumpkin Witch. Soon Pumpkin Witch is a little girl and learning from her mother. The trees and pumpkins were found at Wee Folk Art, which has lots of seasonal crafts and patterns for free.

Later in the story we find out Willow Witch is a healer and goes throughout the forest collecting herbs, berries, and spices to heal the animals and people of the forest. She heals a squirrel, an owl, and a mother’s little child. Both witches enjoy healing others and soon little Pumpkin Witch will help a little animal sick and alone on Halloween night.

Delaney made a story too. It was a lovely story that had a raft ride, flying pumpkins, and a good night song.

A visitor is coming to pick a pumpkin to bring home for Halloween.

The audience.

And after the story it turns into a lunch table, yum acorn soup with pine cone biscuits and rock stew.

The story table has many uses for imagination and fun.

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Homeschool Co-Op Day

Every Friday we attend a wonderful homeschool co-op called Central Wisconsin Holistic Homeschoolers. We come together from all over central Wisconsin to go on outings, creating lasting friendships, and to have experiential learning opportunities Here is a look at what we did last Friday.

We started the day at Memory Lane Pumpkin Patch.

Here is Martin hitching up the horses Bess and Judy who pulled the hay ride.

It was a windy cloudy day but the wagon ride was still nice. We went through the woods and around the corn field.

After our ride we went through the corn maze. Liam was lost for a few minutes but Delaney found him, of course he was not worried at all.

Lastly we got our pumpkins. Killian is following the family rule that the pumpkin you get you carry yourself.

After lunch we went to North County Park. The bridge is more wobbly than it looks.

Here we go across the bridge! The kids are jumping up and down and you feel like you might fall down. Fun!

Using our muscles to climb the rock walls.

The river leading to the lake.

What a beautiful day to enjoy with friends!

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Michaelmas

In autumn St. Michael with sword and with shield

Travels over meadow, and orchard, and field.

He’s on the path to battle darkness and strife

He’s our heavenly warrior defender of life. 

Michaelmas,  or the Feast Day of Saint Michael, is celebrated on September 29th as a harvest festival and a festival of strong will. Michael is known for defeating Lucifer in the battle of heaven and is known as a protector during the dark time of year. To me this day represents the ability to  find my inner strength to be able to work though hard things. Micheal also represent my confidence, determination, and bravery  to set out on new paths. This year my new path has been to begin this blog and work on crafting for things to come. On Michaelmas I am also reminded that when the path I have chosen is difficult it does not mean I should turn around and run away but move forward through the gloom and find the sun again. I look forward to the inner energy I feel at this time of year.

For the kids we talk about how Saint Michael can help us be brave when we are scared or strong when we are weak. We started with the story of  Saint George and the Dragon, I used the Saint George story in The Book of Dragons as inspiration and we laid out a story scene to accompany the story. The kids took turns acting out the story by playing the parts of the dragon or Saint George.

After acting out the story, Killian wrote a short summary in his lesson book. I have also been reading the Michaelmas chapters out of The Festival of Stones: Autumn and Winter Tales of Tiptoes Lightly. This is a wonderful book and he has other stories in this series that my kids just love.

This week we also made dragon bread. Here is a picture of our dragon bread ready to go in the oven. I was going to do raisins and nuts to decorate but forgot to buy nuts at the store, so we used frosting, sprinkles, and coconut instead. They turned out pretty good.

We also painted dragons, here is our work in progress.

This is Killian’s painting of the dragon, mine is the second one. I have found doing my own project while the kids do there’s keeps them on task and they are more likely to take their time.

On Saturday, Michaelmas Day, I will be telling a Saint Micheal story from All Year Round. As I tell the story we make a harvest bread loaf. Then we will journey forth bursting with energy and full of brave deeds.

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