Category Archives: Montessori

Winter Solstice 2013


This is my fifth year in Australia and it has never been this cold. My car windows are frozen in the mornings and all the plants are covered with a blanket of ice. The temperate this morning was -1 degrees celsius. Yikes!

It is a beautiful time of year and today we are celebrating the shortest day and the longest night. (If you are in the northern hemisphere, you are celebrating the other extreme –  the longest day and shortest night.)

Last night, our school organised a beautiful celebration of the solstice. The children made their own lanterns.

We then had a shared supper and we went on a lovely nature walk in the darkness. It was really magical.

What is so touching about creating something like this at this time of year is that we can physically see the beauty of a light in the darkness. Most of us hate the winter, we hate the cold.

It is a metaphor for the fear we have of our own darkness. We are so scared to go into our own darkness, because we are afraid of what we might find. But, when we trust the process, when we trust that there is beauty and wonder in the deepest darkness, we step into it, afraid, but ready to be transformed.

I suggest that tonight, or this weekend, you make some time to look into your own darkness. Invite your children to share in this ritual. Our family is going to leave all the lights off for the whole night and put the candles and the fire on. (Obviously being fire safe) We will take our unlit lanterns for a walk while it is still light outside. We will take a walk to a special place. We will gather in our special place and ask ourselves: “What does the light inside me want me to know?” You will be surprised by the wisdom that comes out of your children’s mouths. We will then each light our candles and journey back home, to find our home magically lit up and enjoy a peaceful meal by candlelight. We do this each year.

You will be amazed at the stillness it creates within you and your children. It will truly connect you to deepest self. Once the children are in bed, pull out your journal and ask your deepest self what it wants you to know as you journey into the darkest time of the year. Or grab your art supplies and create an image representing what you would like to express right now. Or dream in your perfect life with your spouse and a glass of wine. Now is the time to create our manifestations, but not to act on them. I created the house that I live in, in the darkness of Winter. Trust me, it is a powerful time, make the most of it.

This time will last for six weeks until Imbolc in the first week of August, which will herald the first stirrings of Spring. It can feel long and scary and often we believe it will never end. The cycle of life promises rebirth, it can be no other way. But, there has to be death if there is to be any new life. Change is the only constant in this beautiful journey of life. The Spring will come, yes it will.

Trust the process.

Do you do anything to mark the change in seasons with your family? Would you like to? Have you noticed a change in yourself since you have started doing it? (I know that I have.)

I would love to know. Sharing is healing and your words could inspire someone else. Your words are important, please do not keep them to yourself.

Blessings to you.

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Winter solstice and seasonal tables

A dear friend and soul sister asked me to do a post on seasonal tables. She asked me to talk about the elements of the seasonal table so that she can do what I do. I laughed because she is incredibly creative, so I would have thought that I would be asking her to do a post for me! So, I thought it would be fun to share what we have done at home and perhaps it can inspire you too.

This is the seasonal table we have set up at the moment. It was created mostly by Annie, with minimal input from me.

Before you set up a seasonal table, it is important to consider the purpose of it. For some, it is a place to collect things from nature that are relevant for that time of year, for others it is a prop for story telling during the year, for others it can just be a beautiful, inspirational place and for some it can even be an altar for the current season.

For me, it is a little reminder of where we are in the wheel of the year, in a beautiful setting for my children to enjoy. I am happy for them to play with everything on the table, but there is a level of respect for what we have created, so it needs to be cared for.

We have used a blue piece of muslin as the base, “winter animals” like polar bears and wooly sheep, little wintery trees, which Annie dutifully stuck up one by one and we also sewed little clouds and raindrops out of felt last year. If you look carefully (they are hanging), you can see the raindrop that Annie made by herself, I was very proud of her efforts.

As I was preparing to take the photos, I realised that we didn’t have any water on the table. Water is the active element in winter and I thought that it was relevant to have it on the table along with some flowers from our garden.

I like to rotate the books that we have out and change them every solstice and equinox. I like to have books that are relevant to the time of year. I don’t like to have a lot of books out as it creates clutter and they are not enjoyed. Rather have a fresh set out every few months, it is much more interesting that way.

I bought this lovely King Winter from Rainbow River Designs. You can get it here. I must say that even though my children go to a Montessori school, I have a love affair with Waldorf toys. They are so beautiful, lovely to play with and inspire so much creative play. We have a lovely balance of Montessori schooling during the day and Waldorf inspired living at home.

The winter solstice is coming up and we are planning another nature walk like we did last year. You can read what we did last year over here. I think it will be a very similar affair this time round.

We will be thinking about what we will incubate during the coldest and darkest time of the year. It is the time to dream, rest, sleep. It is not the time for activity. All of nature goes to sleep, the bears, the trees, the bees. We also need our time to hibernate. Spring is the time to wake up again. If we don’t rest now, we will be burnt out by the time we need all our energy for the bursting activity of summer. That is just how the cycles work. 

We have to rest.

It is interesting to note that I dreamed up the house we are moving into in the middle of winter. I wonder if I would have had such clarity of vision if I had not taken the time to slow down.

Are you planning any special things for the solstice? (summer or winter)

Blessings to you.

Six times around the sun

Six times around the sun today.

In the Montessori tradition, the birthday child holds a globe and walks around the sun.

One revolution for each year.

We sing the song:

“The earth goes round the sun, the earth goes round the sun. Round and round and round and round, the earth goes round the sun.”

And after each revolution, we look at photos and talk about the child’s year during that time.

It is very special for the child. (And parents!)

It is also very hands on, so they can really grasp the concept of our earth actually travelling around the sun.

Annie chose a friend to help her distribute her homemade cupcakes to her friends.
We all had to wait for her before we could eat, since it was her special day today.

As a special treat, Xavier (a.k.a. super hero) was allowed to stay and do some jobs with Annie.
They had a great time.
Annie loves teaching her brother.

And then Xavier made a friend in a three year old girl, who was so happy to play with him.

I was lucky enough to just stand back and enjoy watching the community of little people busily carrying on with their work.

At one point, two boys asked if they could ring the bell.

They rang the bell.

Children stopped their work.


“Would anyone like to see our work?”

Most of the children rushed over to see the giant puzzle they had built.

“Any questions?”

Hands went up:

“I like it.”
“It’s beautiful.”
“Good job!”

Such happy children.
Loving and kind, independent and focused.

I am so grateful that my children can thrive in this environment.

Blessings to you.

Rainbow cupcakes

The worker bees have finished their job.
Yesterday they baked.
Today they decorated.

Chocolate cupcakes in all the colours of the rainbow.

Ready for Annie’s Montessori birthday celebration at school tomorrow.

We used natural food colouring.
So Annie was a bit disappointed that we did not have psychedelic red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.

It is more like pink, peach, yellow, khaki, aqua and lavender.

Tomorrow my little one walks around the sun six times!

Blessings to you. 

How to make a mother weep with pride

Annie got her final Cycle 1 portfolio today.
It is a file full of her work and about 100 photos of her days in the classroom for the last 6 months.

I have had a quick look through it in anticipation of a great explanation of all the lovely things she has done, which she will share with me this afternoon.

I did read her teacher’s final note, however.
It brought such tears to me.
I wept from my heart.
That my little girl is not so little anymore.
And that she is experiencing such a beautiful education.
And such amazing teachers.

This is what her teacher said:

“Annie you are a great asset in this classroom. We wish you all the best next year in Cycle 2. I am very confident that you will succeed in everything you put your heart and soul into.

Annie you have been such a delight to teach and I have greatly enjoyed working with you. You will be missed greatly by the Room 8 children and adults. I will really miss our sweet chit-chats about your twirly skirts, butterfly headbands, full moon days and Goddess Lakshmi, so please come back to visit regularly.”

I love you, my Sweetheart.

I am so proud of what you have achieved and how much you have inspired your friends, the younger children and your teachers.

Thank you for choosing me to be your mummy.

Blessings to you.