Sunday, July 31, 2011

Quote of the Day

"A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on a cold nail."
- Horace Mann

Monday, July 25, 2011

Montessori Musings: Math

I've been taking Karen Tyler's wonderful on-line Montessori course since January. Although I don't get to study nearly as often or as long as I would like, I am still learning some valuable things that I am able to use with both of my children.  Seit Januar mache ich eine Montessori Ausbilding im Internet bei Karen Tyler. Obwohl ich mir mehr Zeit zum Lernen wünschte, trotzdem erfahre ich sehr viel, das ich bei den eigenen Kindern und im Klassenzimmer umsetzen kann. 

When I was in the States over Easter, I purchased some materials from Alison's Montessori and Kid Advance that I have been pleased with:  a wooden Base 10 set, trinomial cube, division board. (Wooden Montessori materials are still much more affordable in the States than in Europe.) Während ich in den Staaten über die Osterferien war, habe ich neues Montessori Material gekauft: 121-teiligen mathematischen Würfel, trinomischen Würfel, Divisionsbrett. (Leider sind solche Dinge viel teurer in Europa.)

I love the holistic approach to mathematics in Montessori in that the children learn the three-dimensional practicalities behind the abstract concepts introduced. They learn literally what a "thousand" or a "hundred" feels like by seeing and touching it.  Der ganzheitliche Ansatz zur Mathematik in der Montessori Pädagogik gefällt mir sehr.  Die Kinder erfahren die abstrakten Konzepten auf eine konkrete Art und Weise.  Sie wissen wie "ein tausend" oder "ein hundert" sich fühlt, weil sie es sehen und tasten können. 

Below my daughter is using the wooden Base 10 set to match quantities with the teen numerals. Unten lernt meine Tochter die Mengen von 10-19 mit den Zahlen einzuordnen. 

A game that I learned from Karen's material is to blindfold the child and have her find a particular quantity. We started by finding one unit, then ten units, then 100, and finally 1000.  Afterwards, I had her find uneven numbers like "17" of something. Im Karens Unterricht habe ich ein Spiel mit dem mathematischen Würfelmaterial gelernt:  die Augen des Kindes werden verbunden und man bittet es "1", "10","100", oder "1.000" zu finden. Danach musste sie ungerade Mengen wie "17" finden. 

We have also been working on simple addition with the table number rods that I purchased here in Germany from E-bay. She enjoys this and sometimes the number rods turn into a house for the fairies.  But hey, why not? Wir haben auch mit numerischen Stangen, die ich in Deutschland bei Ebay gekauft habe, gearbeitet um mit Addition anzufangen. Und manchmal werden die Stangen zum Haus für die Feen werden. Aber warum nicht?

Linked to Montessori Monday at One Hook Wonder

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Quote of the Day

When I approach a child, he inspires in me two sentiments; tenderness for what he is,
and respect for what he may become.

-Louis Pasteur

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Princess and the Goblin

(an update on our Summer Reading List)

We just finished The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald and my children adored it. This fairy tale has something for every child: a princess, a mysterious grandmother-queen, goblins and a local boy who has the courage of a prince.

Though the language is archaic and difficult to understand at times, my seven-year-old son was on the edge of his seat the entire time and always wanted to hear one more chapter.  At times the attention span of my five-year-old daughter was stretched to the limit, but she, too, eagerly awaited a new chapter each day. I don't mind reading my children books with outdated language, because they often stop me to ask what a certain word means and it provides good opportunities to broaden their vocabulary.

Much Christian imagery is to be found in this book and other fairy tales that MacDonald wrote, just as in the the works of C.S. Lewis, who claimed MacDonald as his greatest source of inspiration.  I did not point this out directly to my children, because I hope that they will discover this for themselves when they are older.  I myself have such wonderful memories of reading the Narnia books as a child and enjoying them purely as fairy tales. Then, as a college student, I reread them and discovered treasures that profoundly helped my faith in God to grow.  And I want to give my kids the same opportunity.

I noticed my son flipping through the book several days after we had finished it. He was reading some of Curdie's rhymes that scare away the goblins.  Then, he started making up his own rhymes!  I was thrilled to hear him rhyming and pretending to scare goblins.  As a children's pastor and teacher, I see him learning from this book on several fronts: strengthening language skills; using the imagination; and developing Christian spirituality through pondering the mysterious aspects of the book.  What fun to be a child and make your own adventures!

Princess Irene with her mysterious great-grandmother
who has no wrinkles. 

 I highly recommend this one as a family read-a-loud for 
children ages 5 and up. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Museumspark Rüdersdorf

Man sagt, Berlin ist die grünste Stadt der Welt. Überall gibt es Parks und Sees, die einem Flucht von der Hektik der Großstadt bieten. Museumspark Rüdersdorf an der Stadtgrenze ist so ein Naturschatz. They say Berlin is the greenest city in the world.  In and around the city there are countless parks and lakes that offer refuge from the concrete jungle.  One such treasure is Museumspark Rüdersdorf.     

Hauptsächlich wollten wir dort Fossilien suchen. Im Park wurde nämlich vor einigen Jahren einen vollständigen Skelett eines Nothosaurus gefunden und man kann immer noch Fossilien im Kalkstein finden.  Mein Sohn, der nach Dinos verrückt ist und nennt sich "Junior Paläontolog", träumte davon Fossilien zum ersten Mal zu suchen. Der park bietet die Möglichkeit in Begleitung einer Fachperson 2 Stunden mit Helm und Hammer Fossilien auszugraben und die Funde danach zu behalten. Man müsste aber vorher anrufen und einen Termin machen. Fossil hunting was the main reason we wanted to visit Rüdersdorf. The park is also known for being the place where the most complete skeleton of a Nothosaurus was found and a great place to hunt fossils in the neighboring limestone pits. My son, the dinosaur fanatic,  refers to himself as a "junior paleontologist" these days and has dreamed of being able to hunt fossils for the first time.  The park offers a guided fossil hunting tour complete with safety helmet and hammer.  It's a good idea to call ahead and find out which days the tour is offered.

Here he shows off his 10 Kilos of fossils that we then
had to get back home on public transportation!
E. hat 10 Kilo von Fossilien gefunden u. wir mussten
sie danach mit dem Öffentlichen nach Hause tragen!

Rüdersdork ist bekannt als Zentrum der historischen Kalksteinindustrie. Man kann germanische Öfen, die 72 vor Christi benutzt wurden, sowie spätere Fabrike aus dem 19-ten Jahrhundert anschauen. The municipality of Rüdersdorf is famous for being an important historical center of limestone open-pit mining.  And in the park you can view ancient ovens that the Germanic tribes used for burning the limestone that date back to 72 BC as well as the ones that followed in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Here are ovens from the 19th century where the limestone was processed.
These days endangered species of bats from all over Europe find refuge inside in the winter.
Hier sind Öfen aus dem 19-ten Jahrhundert, wo Kalkstein gebrannt wurde.
Heute finden gefährdete Arten von Fledermäusen
ein Zuhause zwischen den Spalten im Winter.
Während mein Sohn Fossilien suchte, haben meine Tochter und ich einen Werkstatt für Kalksteinmalerei besucht. (Meine Tochter was zu jung um beim Ausgraben mitzumachen.) Wie mit der Fossiliensuche müsste man vorher den Werkstatt vereinbaren. While my son was hunting fossils, my daughter and I got to paint on limestone in one of the workshops that the park offers. Again, call ahead to make an appointment!

My daughter painting a butterfly.
Meine Tochter malt einen Schmetterling auf ihrer Kalksteinplatte.
We were there with a school group and I loved this painting from a third-grade girl.
Dieses Bild von einer 3-Klässlerin fand ich genial.
I'm not great at spontaneous painting, but I really enjoyed the feeling of painting on stone.
Spontan zu malen ist nicht meine Stärke, aber ich hab's genossen mal auf Stein zu malen.

Beim Museumspark kann man die Natur richtig geniessen. Obwohl meine Kinder wohnen gern in Berlin, stelle ich fest, dass regelmäßige Pausen in der Natur ihnen sehr gut tut. Mein Sohn holt Kraft davon und ist wesentlich ruhiger danach. And last, but not least, it is a wonderful place to enjoy nature!  Although my children love the city, I notice that they need to be out in nature on a regular basis.  It has such a calming effect on my son that last for days afterward. 

Vorort ist auch ein Streichelbauernhof von netten Opas betreut, die mit Kindern lieb umgehen. There is also a petting farm with lots of fun animals and nice grandpas who help the kids.

Wenn man Auflugsmöglichkeiten in der Nähe von Berlin sucht, ist Museumspark Rüdersdorf eine wunderbare (und nicht teure) Idee! If you are looking for something to do in the Berlin area, this is a great and inexpensive way to spend the day!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fantastic Giveaway for Ella Beskow fans!

Valerie at Jump into a Book is giving away 19 Elsa Beskow books!  Beskow was a Swedish author of children's books with beautiful, whimsical nature themes. Her books are very popular in Nature and Waldorf pedagogy. If you would like more details on how to enter this giveaway, please click here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Defining Children's Spirituality . . .

 . . . with a little help from Rebecca Nye.

I pretty much devoured the book pictured above by Rebecca Nye, Children's Spirituality: What it is and why it Matters. When I look back on books that have significantly impacted me, I am sure that this book will be high up on the list.  Not only is it helping me to understand the children around me, but it also helps me to look at my own childhood in a new light.  I hope to write several posts about thoughts in this book.

What spirituality and children's spirituality are can be a difficult thing to nail down or even recognize.  Nye begins the book by listing psychological, educational and theological definitions to spirituality. Then, she moves on to defining Christian spirituality and more specifically children's spirituality in a Christian context.  In a nutshell, spirituality seems to be an awareness of transcendence and connectedness to something beyond our  individual ourselves. In Christian spirituality, this is a connectedness to the triune God: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And in Christian children's spirituality, it is how children "be" with God and how God in turn can "be" with them.

During my time in Russia in the early 90s', I often heard the Russian word, "duchovni", that literally translates as "spiritual".  In my own language, I had only heard that word used in a narrowly defined religious context. I, of course, assumed that the Russian word carried the same connotations. However, I soon came to realize that "duchovni" encompassed something much larger.  It described everything from the words of the poet, Anna Akhmatova, to the majesty of an Orthodox church to the serenity of standing on the shores of Lake Baikal.  It described experiences that combined artistic expression, concentrated thought and an attempt to reach out to something greater than one's self. Having somewhat grasped the broadness of the Russian term has helped me these days to recognize children's spirituality in everyday life when I see it and then to encourage it in a Christian context. (So interesting how God uses our past experiences like building blocks to prepare us for the present!)

I have to admit that early on as a children's pastor, I completely missed the boat sometimes when children were "being" with God and I interpreted their responses as mere play. This is because spirituality in children can easily be overlooked or dismissed in the church when it doesn't look like what Nye terms "fluent Christian".  Their spirituality takes many playful forms and often does looks silly or like nonsense to adults.  For example, suppose a child draws something in children's church that appears to have  absolutely nothing to do with the lesson/theme that has just been presented.  An uninformed children's worker could easily dismiss the work as irrelevant, because it doesn't make a direct connection to the lesson.  Nye points out, however, that children have a more holistic approach to things because of their limited analytical skills.  Therefore, the child who draws a dinosaur after hearing a lesson on Abraham and Sarah may well be making a connection with God that is not readily visible to an adult.  Only the child and God know what is really happening.  And something truly amazing can be taking place! (And sometimes we get lucky enough that the child can at some point verbalize what has taken place.)

What does this mean for us as children's workers and parents?  It means that we have to let go of some control and trust that the Holy Spirit is working in our children. We have to make church less like a school in which we offer something from God's Word and expect the children to regurgitate it back to us in a certain way.  Don't get me wrong, I think memorizing Scripture and other "frontal" teaching methods are appropriate at times.  But what I am getting at (and I think this is Nye's point) is that we have to make room for the unexpected moments and ways that God extends friendship and revelation to children and follow his lead even when we don't fully understand what is taking place.

Nye also writes of a study by Kalevi Tammenin in Finland about spiritual experiences in the population there. Eighty percent of the 7-years-olds surveyed spoke of having moments where they were aware of God's presence.  Then, 60% of 11-year-olds were aware of his presence.  By stark contrast, only 30% of adults could point to such moments.  This tells us something very important about faith and spirituality: children are spiritual beings from the beginning and we have to nurture this capacity to connect with God or it will in time be lost.

Okay, those are my thoughts for now.  I invite you all to please join the conversation so that we can learn from one another!

How do you observe spirituality in the children around you?
What are ways that you encourage them in this?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Quote of the Day

We cannot create observers by saying 'observe,' but by giving them the power and the means for this observation and these means are procured through education of the senses. 
- Maria Montessori

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Other Godly Play and Catechesis Resources on the Web

Since I stepped into the blogging world last October, I have been amazed at how much I have learned from and been inspired by other bloggers! My practice of Godly Play has developed and grown as a result of the feedback and encouragement from others in this field.  I want to take this opportunity to call your attention to some other wonderful blogs about Montessori-based religious education that I have come to love. If you are interested in learning more about Godly Play or Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, by all means check out these blogs!

Godly Play:
Wonderful in an Easter Kind of Way - Storyteller uses GP in Junior Church at an Anglican church in Finland.
Gott im Spiel - Godly Play - Markus is a colleague here in Germany who leads GP in a Roman Catholic setting.
Godly Play Spain - David Pritchard writes about the development of GP in Spain.
Living Montessori Now - Deb Chitwood is trained in both GP and Catechesis and writes about her experience as well as providing links to on-line resources.
Watkins Every Flavor Bean -  Emily lives in Scotland and uses Godly Play with her own children.
All Play on Sunday - This blogger also has lots of ideas for Godly Play as well as sensorimotor worship for children.
Browniesmoke - Jill in North Carolina, USA, also has some interesting posts on her GP experiences.

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd:
Thoughts from the Sheepfold - Leslie is Director of Spiritual Formation at an Episcopal church in Ohio, USA.
The Diary of a Sower - Cheryl is a Catechist in a Roman Catholic church in the US.

If you know of any other blogs that I may have left out or am not yet aware of, please let me know. : )

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sketching Live Subjects

Flexibility seems to be a theme in my life lately.  On Monday, we had planned a day trip to the forest, but woke up that morning to rain and colder weather.  We quickly changed our plans and went to the Berlin Aquarium instead.  Our aquarium houses four floors of fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects.  (In other words, four stories of fun!) As I pushed the planned forest activities to the side and packed a picnic lunch for us, I decided that I would take along some drawing materials and encourage the kids to draw one of the creatures that they liked the most.

Turtles and Caimans in the tropical terrarium. 
Nothing trains the eye or the powers of concentration like drawing live subjects.  Drawing an animal helps a child to understand and consider it in a deeper way, like taking a mental snapshot. Observing and drawing moving subjects also requires the children to process the image in a more complex way than drawing a still life.

Unlike paints, drawing materials are light-weight and easy to transport and require little effort to unpack. I brought along the following:
1) small plywood boards to use as a stable surface for drawing (you can find these at a hobby shop or home improvement-type store)
2) colored pencils
3) A4-sized paper

A word about colored pencils: always buy good-quality ones or else they are no fun for children to draw with. The kind you get on airplanes or at a dollar store can take all the pleasure out of drawing, because the child has to press down hard to make a mark and cramp the fingers.

While children are usually braver about drawing live subjects than adults, they are not always excited about it. When I pulled out the art supplies during lunch, one child's immediate reaction was to say, "Boring!"  But interestingly enough, after this child drew the first picture, he was hooked and then wanted to draw three more.

I think several things helped. I sketched with the children and was engrossed in my own work, thereby helping to place value on the activity. But I let the children choose the pace and moved onto a new animal when they were ready, even if I wasn't. I also did not demand that the children "finish" the picture unless they wanted to.

Here you can see the plywood boards and
large pencil case for the colored pencils better.

Here are some of the children's sketches:

Sharks and a sting ray.
A butterfly extracting juice from an orange slice.
A moth. 
Turtles and Caimans.
After so much intense observation, the kids were ready to exert some physical energy.  Fortunately, the rain stopped and the sun came out and the kids hopped onto and into the fountain/sculpture in front of the Aquarium.

And of course, off came the shoes and we went home soaking wet.: )  A great way to spend a summery day! 

Linked to  The Magic Onions and Art 4 Little Hands and Ordinary Life Magic

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Theme of "Hide and Seek" in Godly Play

Play is an essential part of childhood. Parents begin instinctively playing "Peek-a-Boo" with infants.  Not only is this game interesting and fun for babies, but it also has an important pedagogical element.  Babies learn "permanance" in a concrete way:  that people and objects do not simply disappear just because our view is blocked. Since play is such a foundational part of childhood regardless of culture, it stands to reason that God interacts with children as well in playful experiences.  In fact, God invites us to play with him our whole lives.  It's just that as adults we forget how to play sometimes.  The ability to play with God even as adults is part of what Jesus meant when he said that we must be as children to enter the Kingdom.

One game that God plays with us our whole lives is "Hide and Seek", and by this I mean the phases in our spiritual lives where God is sometimes very present in an almost tangible way and other times when we can't seem to find any traces of him. Rebecca Nye writes in "Children's Spirituality: What it is and why it Matters" that " . . . mystery is a close, mostly unthreatening friend in childhood."  Many childhood games, including "Hide and Seek" and "Peek-a-Boo" deal with the unknown and trying to figure something out. Nye writes that children have limited knowledge and are conscious of this. Therefore, mystery is a companion and does not necessarily cause anxiety.  I see this in the way my own children interact with God.  They rarely ever wonder if God is there.  He just is and they accept this.  Sure, they do ask questions a lot as to why they can't see him, but there is no underlying worry that God is not there or will not help them. But as adults, we often seem to unlearn this and fall into the trap of worry and anxiety when faced with unknown circumstances.

This contrast of God revealing himself and hiding himself is a reoccurring theme in the Godly Play stories as well as the Biblical narrative up on which the stories are based.  One of my favorite examples is "The Great Family" in which Sarah and Abraham (and the children listening to the story) learn that God is not in this one place or another, but everywhere they go. The Advent and Lenten stories speak of waiting for God and following his cues in finding out what Christmas and Easter are all about.  Examples in the Biblical narrative include the story of Esther and the account in Acts 27 & 28 of Paul's shipwreck near Malta.  In both cases, God seemed to not be present (in Esther he is actually never mentioned!) and the worst imaginable things appear to be happening. However, in the end God reveals his active involvement in a relevatory way that has lasting positive consequences for their lives. Just as Mom isn't gone forever when she disappears into another room, God is not gone forever when we don't see direct evidence of his working at a particular phase of our lives.

In my own life, I became acquainted with Godly Play at a time when I felt abandoned by God and had all but lost faith in the church (even though I was a church-planter!).  Though I knew logically that God was there and wasn't ready to simply discard my faith, my emotions and intuition were contradicting what I knew to be true about God.  Learning to play "Hide and Seek" with God as an adult has helped me to understand his character and heart in a fresh way and to deal with the underlying fear that was paralyzing me.

All of this talk about play can lead to the question of whether or not God is being cruel by "playing" with us.  Is he? The answer depends on how we understand play.  Martin Steinhäuser and Jerome Berryman write in "Godly Play: Einführung in die Theorie und Praxis" write about the differences between "true play" and "pseudoplay".  True play is voluntary and involves skills such as creativity and problem-solving. All participants are actively engaged in the game.  Pseudoplay, on the other hand, is forced, manipulative, and robs its participants of energy.

God, because of his grace, invites us into true play. His intention is not to break us when he hides himself, but to lead us into deeper revelation and relationship that come through playing with him. When we understand this, we become active participants in the greatest game of all and are changed by it, instead of being trapped in the role of a victim. Let's learn how to play with God again and teach our children to do the same.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Quote of the Day

"What makes people smart, curious, alert, observant, competent, confident, resourceful, persistent - in the broadest and best sense, intelligent- is not having access to more and more learning places, resources, and specialists, but being able in their lives to do a wide variety of interesting things that matter, things that challenge their ingenuity, skill, and judgement, and that make an obvious difference in their lives and the lives of people around them."

-John Holt

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Drawing Fairies

I haven't written about an art project in a while, so here is something my daughter and I did recently  . . . 

Fairies are just plain fun to draw.  Whether you are a five-year-old like my daughter or at the age where you stop counting the birthdays like me, they are hard to resist. So when I suggested to my daughter that we do a spontaneous drawing lesson on fairies, I didn't have to twist her arm. 

While on vacation in the Czech Republic last year, I saw this adorable book and just had to buy it.  The title translates to "Insidious Plants" and weaves a practical lesson for young children about poisonous garden plants around a story about fairies. It is an ingenious idea and I wish that we had it in English.  The illustrations are gorgeous (the illustrator, Eva Chupikova, is apparently also a fashion illustrator in Prague) and my daughter loves to look at it and often has me translate passages into English for her.   Because I love to use graphics to train the eye, this book was perfect for our lesson.

My daughter picked out a fairy in the book to use as inspiration for her drawing. Using the principles in Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes, we dissected her into the shape families. Here are the steps that we used int he picture below: 1) I had her draw a semicircle for the face. 2) Then she added two thin lines for the neck. 3) Next, she drew an egg shape for the torso. 4) Then, two large curves for the dress and long thin curves for the arms. 

The subsequent steps: 6) She made long, thin oval shapes for the wings. 7) I instructed her to make large eyes and a small mouth and nose. 8) She added a small oval and curved line for a tiara. 

Next she worked on the background adding a horizon line. I had her add whatever she wanted and she chose trees, a butterfly, a dragonfly and flowers. 

She then took a purple chalk pastel and colored the sky.

Then, my daughter did what many children do and cause their parents to freak out.  (And had I no experience with children and art, I would do the same.) She began to tell a story of a storm coming in and colored over the drawing first with gray and then a green marker.  With young children, it's about the process and experience and not the final result! She also got tired before everything was colored and quit before the butterflies were finished. Again, it's about the process and not about the final result.: )

And this is my picture that I drew just for fun:

Yep, you never get too old to draw fairies!

Linked to The Magic Onions

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Child's Way of being with God

In a post from last month, I quoted Rebecca Nye in her book "Children's Spirituality: What it is and why it Matters" defining children's spirituality as "God's ways of being with children and children's ways of being with God." This implies that these ways are often different from the ways that adults spend time with God. As parents, mentors and pastors for children, we have to be constantly observing and sensitive to these ways and make space for them.

One thing I've learned is that children spend time with God at what we adults often consider the most inopportune times.  Yesterday morning I walked my daughter to kindergarten in the pouring rain. I mean, it was raining cats and dogs. Every person in sight was looking stressed and huddled underneath their umbrella or the hood of their rainjacket.  (In central Berlin, a car is more of a hindrance than anything else, so we walk most places.) Life tends to be a musical for my daughter, and soon after leaving our house, she began singing.  I soon realized that the lyrics were a dialogue that she had recently had with another little boy in kindergarten about the existence of God.  The little boy had apparently told her that he didn't believe in God and my daughter responded by telling him her thoughts about God.  She sang his discourse and then her responses to it all the way there.  It honestly sounded a bit like a 5-year-old version of "Carmina Burana". Rather than interrupting her to ask questions, I silently listened and was amazed at the simple wisdom in what she sang about and to God.

Why my daughter picked this moment to begin singing about God in the pouring rain, I cannot say. However, I am very sure that she was processing an incident with God that had a big impact on her and she was deeply engrossed in it.  It was important to her and she need to do this.  And somehow the rain spurred it all on.  

I am glad that she trusts me enough to do this in my presence and know that I will not laugh or interrupt her. I am also glad that her enjoyment of God isn't limited to quiet, meditative places.  And I am thankful that God is opening my eyes to how he spends time with children, so that I can help make room for it.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Summer Reading

Our six weeks of summer vacation began last week and I am delighted to use the time off from teaching to catch up on some reading.

"Children's Spirituality: What it is and why it Matters" by Rebecca Nye

"Der Neugier der Kleinsten Raum Geben: Kinder fragen nach Gott und der Welt" by Ulrike Labuhn. (Ulrike is also my Godly Play trainer. I hope this one gets translated into English at some point. Heck, maybe I'll translate it! )

"Children's Ministry that Fits: Beyond One-Size fits all Approach to Nurturing Children's Spirituality" by David Csinos

I'll give some feedback on these books when I'm finished!

When I'm not reading for me, my other favorite pastime is reading to my kids.  These are the two read-alouds that we are currently reading:

"The Princess and the Goblin" by George MacDonald (I discovered MacDonald last year and love his writings.)

"Nancy Drew: The Secret of Mirror Bay" by Carolyn Keene (This book enthralled me as a kid! It's great fun to read it to my own kids now.)

What are you reading this summer?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Quote of the Day

“The first essential for the child’s development is concentration. 
The child who concentrates 
is immensely happy.”
- Maria Montessori

Friday, July 1, 2011

Summer Nature Table

This is our beach-themed July nature table! 

Below a couple of wooden figures enjoy the beach surrounded by our 
nature treasures. Some of the shells are from the Müggelsee, a lake in Berlin, 
that we collected this year. The other seashells are gifts from friends and the shark tooth 
was a flea market find.  My daughter then added pink deco pebbles to the sand. 

Here we find a wooden heart to remind of the two greatest commandments: 
Love God and Love People. 
And the motivation behind them: God loves us. 

This is the whale from Jonah to remind us that life with God can be an adventure and that it's okay to make mistakes. Glass fish swim around the whale. My daughter added pink pebbles the water insisting that there are "rocks on the bottom of the ocean". 

Below my daughter puts the finishing touches on the nature table. She brought out the Godly Play statue of the cross that is also the Risen Jesus. 

And I had a postcard of Edvard Munch's "Girls on the Beach" 
that just seemed to fit.

School just got out here and we are enjoying the laziness and slower pace of summer. 
Hope that your summer is going well!