Our homeschool lessons for winter kindergarten 1 run from December 2017 through February 2018. There's a lot to celebrate through the holidays at this time of year.
Our intended schedule for winter kindergarten 1 is the same one we used for autumn. In reality, it only happens like that maybe two days a week. It's still a goal worth aiming for. Maybe my New Year's resolution should be to work on rhythm?
The 4 R's of Waldorf education are rhythm, repetition, and reverence. We are learning lots of reverence through all of our holiday rituals.
This is can be a very busy time of year if you try to do too much. Focus on the most important element of each celebration or you can choose which ones work for you.
We are Christians, so we celebrate holidays that relate to our religion, but Waldorf education can be used for any religious background.
We use a traditional daily Advent calendar with little windows that are numbered so you open one each day in December leading up to Christmas.
We also have an Advent garden where we do a weekly story and add an element to a Nativity scene. The first week is stones, crystals, and bones (shells), the second is plants, the third is animals, and the fourth week is people.
Each Sunday storytime ends with another candle to add to our Advent wreath. They are labeled with the words used for each Advent Sunday at our church: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. We light the candles and play music during our evening meal on Sundays leading up to Christmas.
December 6th is St. Nicholas Day, so on the evening before we leave a pair of wooden shoes out with some straw, weeds, or celery leaves for his horse. We also fold up our red playsilk in one shoe for him to use.
On the morning of the 6th, we find a mysterious pile under the red silk and a scroll on top tied with a red ribbon.
We read the scroll before we look under the silk. It's a performance review with comments on what we're doing well and what we could do to improve ourselves. It explains the gifts which are usually related to things we should work on.
St. Nicholas is more of a judgement figure than the modern commercialized Santa Claus.
How to explain St. Nick vs. Santa? We explain that he is a cousin from the old world. Some people get a visit from St. Nicholas, and some get a visit from Santa.
The jolly red Santa really is a modern invention from Coca-Cola ads. It's interesting to study history. Rudolph the red nosed reindeer was created by the Montgomery Wards department store as a holiday promotion.
I personally have no problem singing a cute song about a reindeer, but let's be clear about where things come from and defining what is a tradition. It helps to be aware of generational differences as you consider what the holiday season means to different family members.
Traditions are very dependent on time and place, and we are free to create our own.
This holiday is celebrated on December 13th, especially in Scandinavian countries. I struggled with how to present this holiday to a young child since the story is a little violent, but I know it is important to touch on it in winter kindergarten 1 because it will be part of our curriculum later.
Remember in Waldorf education holidays are about laying a foundation to build on later.
To celebrate, we focus on the concept of eyes seeing light. We are gluten-free, so we make a special cookie with raisins in the traditional bun shape. Last year we played with squishy circuits, which is definitely not Waldorf, but we're not purists and it related to light. The year before, we made candles.
We celebrate the birth of baby Jesus on December 25th with special Christmas Eve celebrations on the 24th, too. We spend time with extended family and open gifts from each other.
We usually go to our family church on Christmas eve for the culmination of the Advent wreath. They light the center candle in the wreath and then spread it person to person through the church. Young children get glowsticks to hold instead of candles.
Sometime before Christmas, we like to go Christmas caroling with a church group at nursing homes.
We try to make small handmade gifts for family and friends. We have made things like magnets, bookmarks, candles, decorations, hand colored puzzles, and painted shirts.
We focus on celebrating the 12 days of Christmas between Christmas and Epiphany. I know it looks a little weird to our neighbors who put up decorations right after Thanksgiving, but we don't light our tree until Christmas Eve.
This really separates the preparation time of Advent and getting gifts ready from the celebration time of Christmas and enjoying our own gifts. It's when the stress is over, and we have time to relax and celebrate. We try to have special family time each night looking at old photo albums, playing games together, and listening to music.
We like to celebrate New Year's Eve by making a wishing wand, which is a craft where you make a wand that lists your hopes for the next year. We also open more gifts from distant relatives, appropriate since we're still celebrating the 12 days of Christmas.
We like to sleep instead of staying up until midnight although the Baltimore fireworks usually wake us up.
New Year's Day is spent with extended family. We share a big meal, talk about our favorite gifts, and play games.
This holiday celebrates the Wise Men coming to see the Christ child. It is celebrated on January 6th, so they pass through and deliver a gift on the night of the 5th. Usually there are only one or two gifts. It's a good time to make up for any you lost in the closet and found later or forgot about then remembered (a tradition from my mom ha!).
This is also the last night we light our Christmas tree. It marks the end of Christmas for us.
Sometime around Epiphany, we like to host a Twelfth Night party for our friends. We wear costumes, enjoy a king cake with a bean hidden inside, and warm cider or wassail.
February 2 is known as Candlemas or Groundhog's Day. It is also the time of St. Brigid. We use it as time to do shadow activities like shadow puppets. We also like to make candles or at least one for our nature tray that we later burn at Pentecost.
We celebrate Valentine's Day on February 14th by making Valentines for our friends and family so they know how much we love and appreciate them.