Last week, we also read Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner. This book gives us a close look at the animals that stay out or "over the snow" during winter and the animals that go "under the snow" on the same page. It is like looking in on the layers of winter. It is beautiful. We were inspired to create our own paintings, using watercolors, of animals over and under the snow. Sophie painted an Great Horned Owl and a vole. Audrey painted a fox and a field mouse. Ethan painted a fox and a beaver. Ava painted beautiful colors.
A celebration of animals in winter is never complete without reading The Mitten by Jan Brett. In this funny story, a little boy named Nicki drops his mitten in the snow. One by one, the animals in the forest find it and crawl inside. The strong knitting of the mitten holds fast, as the mitten is stretched bigger and bigger.
So, we decided it was time to pull out our yarn and do some knitting of our own...finger knitting. We are pretty good at finger knitting. But we are still learning how to knit with needles.
Last week, while celebrating animals in winter, we read The Big Snow by Bertha and Elmer Hader. This is such a beautiful story, with beautiful words and beautiful illustrations. In it, we are able to hear and see all the woodland animals as they prepare for winter and experience the first big snow of the season.
After reading, we painted pine cones with white tempera paint and sprinkled them with glitter. They look snowy and sparkly hanging in one of our front windows.
There is such beauty in this time of year. We are celebrating it!
Every year on Candlemas Day, our family enjoys making candles together. One of our favorite kinds of candles to make is the rolled beeswax candles. They are simple and lovely looking. This year we decided to make them using Valentine colors.
Every year, I also really, really want to try hand dipping beeswax candles. But every year, I get too nervous to try it. Every year, that is, until this year!!! I finally got up the nerve to give hand-dipping a try. It was fun!!! Now, they did turn out too pretty. In fact, Ava said, "They look hideous." But they were fun. And they were a good first try. We learned what worked, and we learned what did not work. Next year, I bet they will look even better! Next year, we will work towards improving them, and maybe some day, perfecting them!
Candlemas Day is February 2nd. It is our tradition to enjoy a pancake breakfast on Candlemas Day morning. We gather up all of our old candles, the ones that have been burned down to almost nothing, and light them all. It is a very simple and beautiful thing. And boy does it look beautiful! We eat our pancakes and watch the tiny little candles get smaller and smaller until they burn themselves out.
After we have finished our pancakes and after all the little candle bits are gone, we get out our new candles and say a little blessing. We bless our home and our hearts. We pray that our home and hearts are filled with love and light and warmth throughout the year.
You see...Candlemas Day marks the mid-point of winter. Long ago, families would take an inventory on their candles on this day, to make sure they had enough to last them through the rest of the colder and darker days. If not, these families would make more candles.
In these modern times, we do not rely so much on candles of course, but I think this is a shame. So, in our home, we burn candles every day. We light candles at the breakfast table every morning when we say our morning prayer together. We also light a candle every afternoon during our quiet reading time. And finally, we light our bedtime candle every night before we say our bedtime prayers. I love how lighting candles every day makes our home feel cozy and warm. It also helps us set apart special time each day to pray together. If you are looking for a way to build a family tradition, or to add a little beauty and simplicity to your days, you might try lighting a candle.
"Candle, candle, burning bright,
Winter's halfway through tonight,
With a glowing,
We are knowing,
Spring is on the way."
We celebrated Sophie's 6th birthday! Sophie loves seeing her friends and doing nature study. So she asked for a nature study birthday party this year. We invited friends over to celebrate Sophie and the wild animals in winter. We read Annie and the Wild Animals by Jan Brett. Then we made Annie's Corn Cakes together. Everyone took home some corn cakes to set out for the wild animals, just like Annie did in the story.
Happy 6th Birthday, Sweet Sophie! We love you!
We could not celebrate snow without spending some time reading about penguins. Our favorite penguin book is The Little Penguin by A.J. Wood. We made snow play dough with silver glitter and played with our penguins in the snow!
"Our people, the Inuit, call it NANUK. White bear, ice bear, sea bear, others say. It's a bear, all right, but not like any other! It's a POLAR BEAR, made for our frozen world!"
We have become very interested in polar bears in our house. This book, Ice Bear: In the Steps of the Polar Bear by Nicola Davies, was the perfect story for us. It brought the polar bear to life for us. It helped us to learn about and be amazed by this magnificent and powerful, yet gentle creature.
For painting day, we did wet-on-wet watercolors. We then cut our painted paper into icicle shapes and strung them up with yarn.
The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett is an Arctic twist on the classic Goldilocks story. In it, an Inuit girl comes upon the igloo of three snow bears. She tries out their breakfast bowls, boots, and beds in search of the "just right". We made our own "Just Right Porridge" to go along with the story. Actually, it was homemade granola! Not too soft and not too crunchy...just right!
Our first book of last week was Ollie's Ski Trip by Elsa Beskow. Ollie is a little boy that goes on a big adventure into the winter woods on his new skis. What he finds along his way will surely fire the imagination of any child. We made snowball cookies to go along with our story because it was baking day and because snowball cookies are almost as fun as real snowballs!