Monday, December 19, 2011

some solstice crafts and activities

Each day since St. Lucy's Day until Winter Solstice, we do an activity/craft related to the solstice or winter or Christmas. It has been a wonderful and easy way to integrate the seasons into our day, and tie us to rituals that soothe our aching souls.

Snowflakes are a perennial favorite for every preschool classroom. Hell, every classroom. And that is because they really are such an easy, lovely craft. I actually hadn't cut a snowflake since I was a child, so I had to look it up. I knew it involved folding paper and cutting. After I cut the snowflakes, I gave the children some glitter, glue and stickers to decorate their snowflakes, then we hung them on the studio windows. I love them. Beezus decorated her snowflake with strawberries, because she misses strawberries in December. *sigh*

The following day, which was the 15th, Beezus, Thor and I made pomander balls. I had seen these things before, but had no idea what they were or what they were called. I found the idea in the book Celebrating the Great Mother. Actually, all the crafts we are doing this season comes from that book or the book Circle Round by Starhawk. Perhaps I should have started with this part, but before St. Lucy's Day I sat one night with herbal tea and a piece of paper on a clipboard and looked through all my seasonal craft books. I wrote down ideas of things to do for our solstice celebration and things to do before solstice. Basically, a list of crafts, and every day, I have been doing one that pops out at me. I didn't make a formal schedule or anything, but just for idea starters.Maybe it sounds weird or hokey to share this part of my process, but I do get questions all the time about how I come up with crafts, and I thought I would share how. I read about crafts, ideas, ties into nature. I have collected a number of books on crafts and homeschooling, even though I don't homeschool. I just love homeschoolers and their awesome creativity with tying in crafts and activities to nature, seasons, science, math and language.

Oh, right, pomander balls. Pomander balls are an ancient tradition of aromatherapy and protection against infection and disease. They are fruits, apples, oranges or lemons, with perfumes. They are then dried and hung, or put into vases, closets, drawers, as a natural moth repellant and air freshener. I just think they look cool. The kids loved this activity and Thor was even able to participate fully.

We used a chopstick and poked some holes in an apple. Thor poked holes in a lemon.

Then we took some cloves and put them in the holes.

The kids loved this part. 

 Then we rolled the apple and lemon in a mixture of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg that I ground in a mortar and pestle.

We put it in a dish on our sidetable. But I wanted to show you another idea. You can wrap some cloth or lace around it and hang the pomander balls.

Festive, no? And they smell divine. Just take them out and dry them before wrapping them up, because they might get moldy, if you know what I mean.

The 16th, we made some ornaments with cardstock and tissue paper. We traced cookie cutters onto paper and then used glue, glitter glue, markers and tissue paper squares and created little ornaments to hang around our house.

On the 17th, we baked cookies, cookies and fudge. I love getting the kids involved. This year, this was my second baking day, and I anticipate another one this week some time.In the evening we all sat around the fire in big chairs. We actually moved our chairs around to face the fire. Sam was knitting and I was felting. It was so homey and lovely. The kids wanted us to entertain them. So, I told them to pull out their shiny rock basket and make a sacred spiral. Rocks, shells, and stones are just magical to children. My children are constantly looking on the ground to collect cool rocks wherever they go. We were given this basket by my mother many years ago. I shouldn't even say we, I was given it when I was single. And it has become what Beezus dubbed the Shiny Rock Bask. She named it at age two, so Bask = Basket. I had some stones, like lapis lazuli, quartz, an arrowhead that I found as a kid. And they went in there, then she began collecting. There are shells from Australia (thanks, Carly), Panama, Alabama, New Jersey. The rule is that all rocks must be put back in the bask with the lid on when you are done with them. Also, we have an s'load of river rocks outside (the previous owners put these lovely river rocks under the deck), so the kids are constantly finding cool rocks right outside our home. And not just cool to the kids, but cool to me. But the other rule is that the rocks must fit in the basket. If you find a cool one, and the bask is too full, you must take one out and back to the yard.
I have to say, I should probably do an entire post about the Shiny Rock Bask, because come to think of it, it is a totally versatile, awesome toy/play thing in our house. The kids pull the rocks out to drive matchbox cars on them. They become a gnome environ. They are studied. We talk about our travels and where we found rocks. We name them, put them back. We put them in color order. We also use rocks in our meditations. Rocks are serene, quiet, contemplative. When the kids are crazy, we pull them out, and I ask them to pick a rock that feels best to them--calming and lovely. I ask them to hold it and become like the rock. Sit still. I also ask them to imagine if the rock had a voice, what would it be? See, how cool rocks are?

It is the bask that keeps on giving. In our semi-circle, the shiny rock bask was pulled out, and the rocks were split in half. And the kids were asked to make a sacred spiral. I didn't explain what that was, but I explained what a spiral is. Did you know that the spiral is the oldest religious symbol found? The symbol is about the goddess and the womb, the everlasting life force. Part of why the spiral is used in solstice ceremony is that Winter Solstice is the time when the Earth Goddess gives birth to the Sun. It also is about change and transformation and acceptance. All things we have to wrestle with during Lucy's birthday and solstice.

As I felted, I watched Beezus' sacred spiral take shape. Thor occasionally stole a rock or three. His spiral was a pile of rocks. After Beezus was done, I told her she could take a photograph of her spiral, because it was an impermanent thing. And we worked together breaking it down and talking about that. Basically, it was me telling her about sand mandalas and meditations and impermanence.

Hope you enjoyed some of these solstice and winter crafts. I should be posting every day, but life is busy right now, and I am in the thick of my grief season.


Anonymous said...

Love your crafting adventures and hoping they will give you much comfort during those next few days. It was fun for me to watch and I plan on contributing to the shiny rock bask too. Will keep my eyes open for something special.
Thinking about you. Much love & xo

HereWeGoAJen said...

You do the best crafts!

Thinking of you these days.

Hope's Mama said...

I really would love to have a wintery Christmas one day.

Anita K said...

Great! I just can't see my Bea doing what Thor does! I am trying some crafts this week... baby steps for me!

And i luv that Thor's foot is in the sprial pic!

Sara said...

I love hearing about what you are doing—and I've been thinking of you in your grief season.

Sweetie Pumpkin Kitty said...

Our rock bask is full to the brim! I have to institute the rule about taking one out to put one in too!!!! Love all of these crafts!