Sipping Education

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel” Socrates   Recently a friend of mine told me she had roasted her own coffee.  Immediately, I was going to try it myself.  As an avid and committed coffee drinker, I love the process of making coffee.  Oh by how I love […]

Saturday Senses – The Sense of Life

Welcome to the first installment of a twelve week series on Rudolf Steiner’s model of the twelve senses.  Interestingly, the skills children need to succeed in school are formed by the four lower senses – the sense of life, the sense of touch, the sense of movement and the sense of balance.  The focus of […]

How to Draw a Panda Bear

This drawing project looks great using just black and green watercolors.  I just love how unique and individual each child’s drawing turns out. What you will need:  Sharpies, white cardstock, black and green watercolors (I used a liquid concentrate). How to draw a simple panda bear: Draw a medium sized circle at the top of […]

Make a Panda Bear Habitat

During our China unit we study the panda bear and learn a bit about it’s life cycle.  The children love seeing the newborn panda photos – so pink and appears hairless!  I think it is important to have the children create the habitat of the animal we are studying.  It brings multiple sensory learning which […]

How to make a Chinese Counting Set

Inspired by the Chinese abacus (which they called suànpán) I adapted the Montessori Teens Board to create our own little counting set.  My objective is to teach the teens. I had my students make their own set today.  They loved it!  I think it is so powerful to let them make their own materials whenever […]

Making Chinese Red Lanterns

Chinese Red Lanterns are a part of the festival life in China.  The color red is believed to bring good luck and happiness.  They are simple to make.   You will need white cardstock, black sharpies, red copy paper, red yard, red watercolor paint, crayons, stapler, and single hole puncher.   Step 1:  Let the children […]

Chinese New Year Around the Classroom

Every year I spend two full weeks inside the mood and inspiration of China.  Over the last ten years, I have collected many wonderful items for this exploration.   My daughter went to China at 13 years old as an exchange student and brought back many things for my classroom.  My family has hosted two Chinese […]

Make Lucky Chinese Playdough!

2 cups of flour 2 cups of colored water (I used Wilton “Red Red” Food dye – is bright red!) 1 Tbsp. of cooking oil 2 Tbsp. cream of tartar 1 cup of salt Directions: Place all of the ingredients in a medium size pan. Cook on medium heat and stir it until the playdough […]

Who is it that teaches?

Today I read this passage from Parker Palmer’s book, “Courage to Teach.”  It nails what I have been thinking about and I wanted to share it: The question we most commonly ask is the “what” question – what subjects shall we teach? When the  conversation goes a bit deeper, we ask the “how” question – […]

The Twelve Senses

Welcome to Saturday Senses! For the next twelve Saturdays I will feature one of the twelve senses.  I am absolutely passionate about this model and what it provides in understanding how we process life.  Actually, it is incredible to me that at the turn of the last century, Rudolf Steiner had realized we had more […]

Good Teaching Scents!

According the Rudolph Steiner, the sense of smell has a direct impact on memory and thus is a great ally in the educational process.  However, he does warn to not over do it.  I think it is important to find subtle smells and use sparingly.  Remember that an adult’s sense of smell is much duller […]

How to Draw a Bird

I think it is such an important skill to teach children how to draw.  It develops so many critical skills for learning – eye/hand coordination, dexterity, spatial perception, understanding of basic shapes and lines, the ability to observe as a means of knowledge – to name a few. All you need is enough black sharpies […]

Kid-Made Sight Word Bingo

This is so cool!  I love it!  My friend and colleague, Joyce Flynn, came up with the best idea for sight bingo.  I like it so much better than a purchased bingo game.   Here’s how Joyce does it:   1.  She gives each child a piece of white paper and a marker. 2.  She instructs […]

My Home, My Address

During August, we talked about how we each live in our own home.  One of the projects we did was to make a paper bag house or apartment building (depending on where you lived).  We then set up a little city with our “homes.”   The photos below are from that first project.   I am going […]

Storytelling Pathways: Walking the Fairy Tale

This is a great way to help children with retelling a story.  It builds comprehension, sequencing and it is fun!  It is simple – on a long piece of bulletin board paper – draw a winding path.  At the beginning of the path, draw a visual clue of the first event.  I did this Storytelling […]

How to Teach Simple Finger Knitting

This is such a great skill to teach children.  It teaches rhythm, eye/hand coordination, and a deeply refined level of fine motor skill.  One of my students this year has not been overly excited about any project.  After learning how to do simple finger knitting – she said repeatedly – “I love finger knitting!! I […]

Hibernating Bear Dens

Art is such a powerful way for children to own information.  In science when we learn about an animal I try to find a way for the children to recreate that animal’s “habitat.” I read and talked about some of the facts about the hibernating bears.  The children love creating these habitats.   It is a […]

Winter Sparkle in Block Play and Dollhouse Play!

One of my favorite things to do is to add special fabrics and trims to the block and dollhouse during different seasons and fairy tales.  This week we are deep into the story, “The Mitten”.   I have added sparkling fabrics and a wonderful iridescent garland for snow, ice and the mood of cold.  It is […]

Hand "work"

When a child exercises muscles in the hand,  she/he is actually forming the brain. Handwork, in the traditional sense, are activities such as sewing, darning, mending, embroidery, weaving and knitting.   One of my Waldorf mentors told me that handwork is deeply related to the development of morality.   Just watch a five year old sew!  It […]

Sparkling Snow Playdough

This is a simple adaptation of the basic playdough recipe.   Sparkling Snow Playdough Recipe: Stir together in large pan: 2 cups of flour 1 cup of salt 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar 2 tablespoons of oil 2 cups of water Cook over medium to medium-high heat.  Cook until it sticks together (about 3 […]

How to Draw a Snowman

Step One:  Using a black marker, draw a horizon line.  On top of the horizon line, draw a large circle.   Step Two:  Draw a medium sized circle on top of the large circle.   Step Three:  Draw a small circle on top of the middle sized circle. Step Four:  Add stick arms.  Sticks are […]

Painting Snow on Trees

This is an oldie – and worth doing again and again!   The best part is mixing up the “secret” snow paint recipe!  This painting takes two days.  I start with teaching the children to paint a tree.   Be sure to start the tree with a little space below it.  The next day we apply our […]

No More Green Light, Yellow Light, Red Light Behavior Management Plan!

The Safe Keeper System I have tried the famous Red Light Classroom Management plan that is used in classrooms across America.   (Every child begins each day on a green light.  Certain behaviors and choices will change their light to yellow or red.  Usually, yellow and red lights had consequences attached to them like loss […]

Make your own "Sight Word Jewels and Gems" Game

The following idea is not a toy and is not for children under the age of five. It is a game that requires adult supervision and interaction.  It is not intended to be used by a child without an adult present.  PLEASE NOTE – I have an alternative jewel idea below for younger children and […]

Lunch at a Biodynamic Farm

This week I had the pleasure of a delicious lunch at my friend Sue’s biodynamic farm – Turtle Barn Farm.     Sue still has winter lettuce to pick.   We were each given a bowl to go out and pick our own lunch! What fun! The leaves were so tender and beautiful! Roasted chestnuts […]

Make a Madonna Shrine

This is a sweet project for families over the holidays.  A few years ago I had my mother, father and children all making one.  They all still have their work displayed in their homes!!  I also chose this as a project at the museum with kindergarten age children.    What you will need: a shell […]

My Twelve Holy Nights Notebook and Additional Resources

Over the last 10 years, I have developed my own creative process to the Twelve Holy Nights practice.  As a multimedia artist, the process is one of bringing my inner life to paper.   At the end of the twelve days I have a resource to look at and be inspired by all year long. […]

The Twelve Holy Nights

The 12 holy nights begin December 26 and goes until The Three Kings day on January 6.  In my Waldorf teacher training, one of my mentors told me how this is the most powerful time to create the following year.  Each of the holy nights represents a month in the coming year (sequentially).  During each […]

Why Educate?

To be capable of wonder is to be fully human.   – Carlina Rinaldi ?Photo taken by my dad – Arlen Fowler in Utah. Today I drove from Tulsa to Dallas and had a good five hours to think.  Lately, my thoughts swirl around our educational system and such things as the movies “Waiting for Superman” […]

Easy Peasy Santa

Children love to have little people in their play to retell the stories of the season.  What fun to have Santa! It is quite easy to make simple little folks based on seasonal impulses with wooden bases, wool roving, and wool felt.  I do not use patterns to make my wooden base dolls.  Here I […]

The Stages of Hand Grip for Writing

As a teacher and educator, I am very concerned about the push down of handwriting.  It is scary to see the wide spread practice of teaching three and four year olds to write before they are physically ready.  I wanted to share a few developmental pieces I have regarding the development of the hand grip. […]

Another Peek into a Kindergarten in Switzerland

 The sheer hanging drape was painted by the children and then used as a room divider.  The teacher told me she purchased the drape from IKEA. I love how they used so much wood and natural tones.  You do not see a lot of plastic!   Now this is a market!  Look at all the […]

Make an Elf Hat and get a Free E-Book of "The Elves and the Shoemaker"

  Look at these cute elf hats!  Cindy Williams and her gang at Philbrook Art Museum came up with this great craft activity for Second Saturday.  I am so taking this idea to my classroom this week! I took a photo of the instructions!  Use a large piece of construction paper (12×18).  Decorate and embellish! […]

Shoe Art!

During “The Elves and the Shoemaker” we create our own Shoe Art! Begin by gathering shoes.  Each child will need one shoe. Next, prepare the shoe by spray painting it.  I have used gold, silver, red, and even black! To decorate, gather a variety of baubles, beads, trim and feathers. I like using the Golden […]

Sewing Little Elves

This week my class began sewing little elves.  We have been learning the tale of  “The Elves and the Shoemaker.”  This is a wonderful tale about the spirit of giving.  It also offers a great opening to discuss wants and needs. I used a traditional pattern for gnomes and altered it a bit for the […]

How to Draw an Elf

This week we are inside the wonderful tale of the Elves and the Shoemaker.  I love teaching the children how to draw an elf.  It is easy and the results endearing!  I am including my state standards at the bottom of this post that this activity directly addresses.  This activity is reinforces the understanding of […]

New York, New York!

You might have noticed I have not posted as much in the last 5 days. . . . I had every intention of posting while attending a workshop in New York City.   That said, I just had to share a few of the highlights of my trip.   (I even found a few cool projects. . […]

Birthday Fairy Dust!

Birthdays in the kindergarten are a very big deal!  It is those small details that make this day special.  Here are some photos of what I have done and a few things from other classrooms. Birthday Banner for birthday child.  I will post later in the week on how to make this simple banner. Detail […]

The Bakery is Open!

During the Gingerbread Man unit, we open a bakery where the children buy and sell bake goods they have made.  I use an old recipe from my childhood that my mother used to make bread dough ornaments.  It is really like a clay.  It is great fun and the children feel such ownership of the […]

Gingerbread Playdough

Gingerbread Play-Dough This is my favorite recipe for gingerbread play-dough.  It smells wonderful and provides the perfect play during our Gingerbread Boy unit. 1 cup flour 1/2 cup salt 1 Tb. cream of tartar 1 cup water 1 tsp. vegetable oil Spices–Cinnamon, Allspice, Ginger, Nutmeg, Cloves Use Green and Red food coloring to make the […]

A Peek into a First Grade Classroom in Switzerland

Here is a little tour of a first grade classroom I visited in Switzerland.  There were so many great ideas.  Outside the classroom this sun greeted students with their names. This is the helper “chart” if you will.  I love this idea! The Magical Alphabet chart!  I have made my own version of this.  Each […]

Age Appropriate Fairy Tales

  “Fairy tales strengthen the moral lives of children.” How do you determine which fairy tales are age appropriate?  A good gauge is by the way that the conflict (or “evil”) is depicted and by the complexity of the tale.  Here is a basic guide: Young Three Year Olds: little nature stories simple stories about […]

Storytelling – The Heart of My Teaching

Storytelling – The Heart of My Teaching from Fairy Dust Teaching on Vimeo.

Easy Gingerbread Dollhouse People

One of the classic tales for the holidays is the Gingerbread Boy.  I discovered that many Christmas Gingerbread people ornaments made perfect dollhouse figures.   There are always many different styles in the cloth ornaments.  They are soft and provide hours of enjoyment in dollhouse play.  I have also found doll-sized gingerbread men (we call them […]

Watercolor Magic – Waxed Paper!

  What you will need:  watercolor paper, watercolors, brushes and waxed paper. Step One: Place a watercolor wash on the paper. Step Two: While paint is still wet, cover it with the wax paper.  Experiment with moving the wax paper to create texture. Step Three:  Remove waxed paper after painting has dried.

Watercolor Magic – Salt!

  Materials Needed:  watercolor paper, watercolors, brushes, and table salt.  You can use a variety of salts to see the effects like fresh ground salt, rock salt and coarse sea salt. Step One: Apply a wash of color over the paper surface. Step Two:  Sprinkle salt into the wet paint and let it dry completely. […]

Watercolor Magic – Rice!

Materials:  Rice, watercolor paper, watercolors. Step One:  Lay a watercolor wash on the paper surface. Step Two: While paint is still wet, drop rice on the paint and leave it there until dry. Step Three:  Brush off the rice. Detail of texture

Watercolor Magic – Plastic Wrap!

Every winter I provide a special painted paper opportunity in my classroom.  During free choice the children can create the featured painted paper.  They make one for the community box and one for themselves.  We use a variety of colors and textures.  I am going to start with watercolor and share my favorites!  Everyday this […]

Weaving Curriculum in Switzerland Kindergarten

The classroom I visited in Switzerland was a multi-age classroom.  There was a completion project before going on to first grade – a circular weaving made into a turtle.  This circular weaving was the shell of a felt turtle. I noticed that the teacher provided several opportunities for weaving and circular weaving.  I loved this […]

Drawing Lesson – Two Feathers

One of my favorite things to do with children is teach them how to draw.  I begin by taking them through the process step by step.  I use basic shapes and lines.  I do one part and then they do it – following my demonstration.   While everyone is doing the same drawing – each one […]

Native American Inspired Shakers

Making shakers out of small sticks and tree limbs is a great project for Autumn. What you will need:  Sticks (the best kind have a “Y” shape), yarn, glue, feathers, wire, and buttons. Step One: Tie on the yarn with a knot for beginning the wrapping process for the children. Step Two:  To add feathers, […]

Pinch Pots at Philbrook

Today my class had the delight of a field trip to Philbrook Art Museum.  We viewed Native American art and pottery and then went to a studio where we created Model Magic pinch pots.  This is such a simple way to introduce making a pinch pot if you do not have access to a kiln […]

Designing Leather Outfits

 This is a fun way to use leather and fabric scraps.  It helps to build critical fine motor skills and a child’s capacity to make decisions about design, size, portion, and function of the leather/fabric scraps they select. Step One:  Put out a selection of scraps for the children to choose from. Step Two:  Let the […]

Walnut Ships

This is a wonderful project for Autumn.  Traditionally, you use melted wax to attach the mast and sails to the walnut shell but I have found another method that allows children to build their own. Supplies:  walnuts in the shell, toothpicks, paper and wax crayons for decorating, modeling clay, heavy gel medium (this is my […]

Walnut People

I first saw these sweet tiny folks in a Waldorf classroom.  They are super easy to make and provide wonderful play for a crisp Autumn day! You will need the following supplies:  a strong tacky glue, walnuts, acorn caps, 1 inch wooden balls with an 1/2 inch hole (I used what I had on hand […]

Creating A Native American Structure

This week my class built their own Native American home.  It was super easy.  What I love about this process is the ownership the children take in the process.  Here’s what we did:   I used a queen size flat sheet and water based markers.  I put out papers with Native American picture writing examples.  […]

Native American Unit in Switzerland

In 2005, I received a Fund for Teachers fellowship to travel to Europe to see early childhood classrooms.  I had the delight of spending a few days in a kindergarten in Winterthur, Switzerland.  They were studying the Native Americans.  Here are a few of their class projects.  The teacher had cut out border strips into […]

The Trading Post!

The Trading Post is open! Every November I open a trading post in my classroom.  I found a great character at a thrift store in Dillon, Colorado who I call Trader Joe.  He comes to my classroom with a box of nature treasures. Everyday until Thanksgiving break, Trader Joe opens his Trading Post in the […]

It’s the Handwriting Fairy!

I begin handwriting with a very special pencil!  It is quite a big deal.  I wait until October before formally introducing the pencil.  I tell the children that this is a special pencil that has a special way to hold it – the tripod grip!  I teach the proper pencil grip.  I do use a […]

Hand Sewing Like the Pilgrims

MATERIALS:  To sew with kindergarteners all you need are blunt tipped needles (found in the needlepoint section), burlap fabric, yarn and a marker to write the first initial of the student on the burlap. I used a paint pen to write the letter in white on the dark brown burlap.  I double threaded the needles […]