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Amazing Solstice Rituals – the Waldorf Solstice Spiral

Looking for amazing winter solstice rituals for your family or homeschool? Here’s how to host a Waldorf Solstice Spiral with your homeschool or family to celebrate the return of light.Waldorf-Winter-Solstice-Spiral-featured_

*This post is republished from 2015. We no longer homeschool, but the amazing solstice rituals like this Waldorf Solstice Sprial remain one of my favorite homeschool activities ever.

Celebrate Winter with a Waldorf Solstice Spiral

The Waldorf Solstice Spiral is an annual tradition in our homeschool. It’s a wonderful way to teach kids about the longest day of the year and it’s a fun activity everyone enjoys as we welcome the return of light back into our dreary, short winter days. Here’s how we celebrate the winter solstice Waldorf style.

I first learned about Waldorf Homeschooling activities from my good friend Melanie from Many Hands House. She used to host amazing Waldorf Homeschool Days and the Solstice Spiral was one of my favorite activities. I was excited to take over the Solstice Spiral this year and host it myself for the first time. Since we moved out of the barn and into the Passive House, we have the perfect place to host this fun annual event – the barn where we used to live.

Winter Solstice Spiral 2015 - ring in the light from SimplifyLiveLove.comHere’s how to host your own Waldorf Solstice Spiral

If you’re interested in solemn winter solstice rituals, you’ll enjoy this one. The trickiest part about it is finding a safe place to house the spiral. Lit candles are involved, so you’ll want to make sure you don’t burn the house down if you host it inside. You could host it outside, if the weather cooperates. Or, you could set it up in a garage or barn like we did, if you don’t want to bring it indoors.

Once you decide on the location, you’ll need a few supplies:

  • Pine boughs – I bought roughly 100 ft from Menards. The skinnier ones were half the price of the longer boughs so that’s what I bought. We ended up doubling them to make them look nice.
  • Yellow felt stars – one per child
  • Apples – one per child, hollowed out to hold a candle
  • Candles – one per child to put in each apple, plus a larger candle to light the apple lights from.
  • Animal figures, rocks, pine cones – to represent the animal, mineral, natural worlds placed around the spiral

How to Host the Most Amazing Solstice Rituals

Set the spiral ring up before hand. Place felt stars (one per child) along the path so children have a place to put their lit apple. Also place the figurines, rocks, and other items in the spiral. Darken the room by covering windows and turn out the lights. Explain to the children that they will light their candles and place them on a star in silence. Discuss the solstice and and the significance of starting (and ending) the spiral in darkness.

waiting in line for the solstice spiral

The room should be as dark as possible and the children line up first outside the room, littlest to biggest. The littlest children need to go first because there will be fewer lit candles for them to have to avoid.

Winter Solstice Spiral 2015 lighting a candle from SimplifyLiveLove.comThen, one by one, the children weave through the spiral with their apples and candles, light their candle, and then turn around and weave back through. At some point on their exit from the spiral, each child will find a star to place his or her candle on. Talking is not allowed, but soft music can play. Melanie always had someone playing a flute, but we did our spiral in silence.
Winter Solstice Spiral 2015 setting the lit candle down from SimplifyLiveLove.comObviously, younger children may need some help, and all children should be careful not to burn themselves. In all the years that we’ve been doing a solstice spiral, we’ve never had any issues.

Winter Solstice Spiral 2015 - silenting waiting for everyone to finish from SimplifyLiveLove.com

After each child lights his or her candle, they wait for everyone to finish. Then the children leave the room, still in silence. I’m always amazed at the reverence the children exhibit during the solstice spiral. They take it quite seriously and seem to enjoy it a lot.

The winter solstice spiral is one of my favorite homeschooling activities. I love that it represents the return of light – after the solstice the days start to get longer and the promise of spring is real. I look forward to the beauty of solemness of the winter solstice spiral all year.

If you’d like to see other Waldorf homeschooling posts, read these:

Dying play silks with kool-aid

Spring Wheat Baskets

How to host a Waldorf Solstice Spiral to Celebrate the Winter Solstice

 

Make Sure to Stop at the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum

Labeled the most popular tourist attraction in Iowa by Time Magazine and TripAdvisor The Iowa 80 Trucking Museum is a fun stop if you’re driving across Iowa on Interstate 80, or happen to be in the area. It’s also a free museum (donations happily accepted), so there’s no reason to skip it!

old concrete truck at the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum

Make Sure to Stop at the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum

I was happy for the diversion earlier in the week at the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum in Walcott, Iowa! We drive by this place all the time and I never even knew it was there.  But it was really quite neat. Not at all what I expected, but very neat nonetheless.

Let me give you a quick tour of some of the things we enjoyed most.electric milk truck at iowa 80 trucking museumAn electric milk truck from the turn of the century – it delivered fresh milk in Chicago for many years. Why could they succeed with electric trucks in the early 1900s but we can’t figure it out today??

mail truck on skiis at the Iowa 80 trucking museumA US Mail truck on skis… 😉 I love to ski. This really cracked me up.

THE wrecker from the movie Fried Green Tomatoes! I don’t really remember the movie much, but it’s still pretty cool, eh?

Wooden peg truck wheels at the Iowa 80 Trucking MuseumPeg wheels made out of wood, anyone? Eh, no thanks…

my 3 cute kids at the Iowa 80 Trucking MuseumThree of my super cute children. I can’t resist an opportunity to show them off! I can’t believe how big they’re all getting!!

Iowa 80 Trucking Museum

Worth a Visit – Iowa 80 Trucking Museum

If you’d like to pop in to the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum, their summer hours (from Memorial Day through Labor Day) are Monday – Saturday 9 am – 5 pm, and Sundays noon – 5pm. In the winter, they’re closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, otherwise the hours are the same.

I appreciate museums like the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum. My small children enjoyed it, I enjoyed it, and it is free if you can’t give a donation. I’m sure everyone has times in their lives when they could use a little free entertainment. This is a fun place to go. Make sure you stop by.

Looking for more attractions in Iowa? Here are some of our favorite places to visit.

American Gothic House Center

Wild Cat Den

Buddy Holly Crash Site

Central Discount Grocery in Kalona

Iowa 80 Trucking Museum

Top 10 Plants for Early Spring Harvest

If you’re trying to eat local, in-season food, make sure to include these top ten plants for early spring harvest. They will yield the first food in the spring so you can have farm fresh produce as soon as possible.

top 10 plants for early spring harvest

*This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission from your purchase.*

One of my long term life dreams is to eat only locally grown and produced food, like Barbara Kingsolver did in her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle {one of my most favorite books of all times}. At first thought, it sounds kind of doable, right? I mean, I have a big garden, and I have egg and meat chickens. I’ve also found a source for local pastured pork and organic, local, grassfed beef. But the logistics are really a lot more complicated than my pea-brain can handle. And it would take a REALLY REALLY REALLY big garden to produce enough food to feed my family of six. Maybe some day.

For now, I will be content to do what I can, and that means maximizing every growing season, and this post starts with spring! Enjoy my list of the top 10 plants to consider if you want to get the earliest possible harvest out of your garden.

Top 10 Plants for Early Spring Harvest

bowl of strawberries and asparagus in the grass

Early Spring Perennials

I love perennials because I can plant them once, and reap the rewards for years! It’s also a bonus that a few garden perennials produce some of the earliest food in the spring, so make sure to include them in your garden.

Rhubarb – it seems a lot of people have a love/hate relationship with rhubarb, but I love it. It’s also ready for picking sooner than most other fruits and is delicious in crisps, scones, and made into syrup too!

Strawberries – strawberries are the first berries to ripen, usually late May or early June in my area. Nothing beats a fresh strawberry right out of the garden! And since conventionally grown strawberries are some of the most pesticide laden fruits grown, we prefer to grow our own.

asparagus on a sheet pan for roasting

Asparagus – asparagus is ready for a full harvest the third year after it’s planted. It’s one of the earliest crops of spring – so delicious!! We look forward to fresh asparagus every year.

Spring Veggies to Plant before the Last Frost

Spring Onions / Potatoes – can be directly sown from seed six weeks before the last frost if the ground is workable. Onions grow quickly and the greens can be cut pretty soon after they start growing. If you leave the bulb in the ground and just cut the greens, they will even grow new greens for you!

Potatoes are generally ready for harvest a little later, but you can carefully collect new potatoes without disturbing the plant ten weeks after the potatoes were planted. We use the no-dig planting method to grow potatoes. Learn more here.

Spinach / Kohlrabi / Kale – can be directly sown from seed five weeks before the last frost date. It’s especially important to plant spinach early as it needs six cool weeks to reach maturity and bolts quickly in hot weather.

Peas / Radish / Carrots – can be directly sown from seed four weeks before last frost date. Peas also don’t do well in hot weather, so make sure to plant them as quickly as possible. Every year I have volunteer radish crops in my garden because I let some go to seed in the summer. They are some of the first fresh veggies we eat!

Forellensuss Lettuce

Lettuce / Swiss Chard – can be directly sown from seed two weeks before last frost date. I also have volunteer lettuce in my garden from time to time and love it! Fresh lettuce is just delicious.

Check your seed packets to see which varieties mature the quickest. Some radishes are ready within 25 days! And lettuce is very quick growing too.

A collage of  pictures including strawberries in a bowl, forelenschuss lettuce, and a basket of eggs and lettuce harvest.

What plants do you look forward to most in spring?

30+ Valentine’s Day Books for Kids of All Ages!

  Looking for a few new Valentine’s Day books this year? This list includes Valentine books for toddlers, Valentine books for preschoolers, and Valentine books for older elementary children as well! Enjoy sharing these lovely books with  your kiddos this Valentine’s Day.
Looking for a few new Valentine's Day books this year? This list includes Valentine books for toddlers, Valentine books for preschoolers, and Valentine books for older elementary children as well! Enjoy sharing these lovely books with  your kiddos this Valentine's Day!

*This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission on your purchase. Thank you for supporting my site.*

Valentine’s Day Books

Here’s a collection of Valentine’s Day Books for kids of all ages. Check them out from the local library or add a few to your personal library. Do you have a favorite we didn’t share? Let me know in the comments and I’ll add it to the list! Enjoy these books with your kids!

Valentine's Day Books to Read with Kids featured

Valentine Books for Toddlers

You will love this collection of  Valentine books for toddlers. They’re all board books so you don’t have to worry about destructive kiddos harming the books, but I’m sure you toddlers are model children and not destructive at all, right? 😉

Llama Llama I Love You

Ollie’s Valentine

Where Is Baby’s Valentine?: A Lift-the-Flap Book 

I Spy Little Hearts

Snuggle Puppy! 

Baby Touch and Feel I Love You

How Many Do I Love You: A Valentine Counting Book 

My Fuzzy Valentine (Sesame Street)

Happy Valentine’s Day, Mouse!

Valentine’s: Lift-a-Flap Board Book

Click, Clack, Moo I Love You!

more Valentine's Day books for kids

Valentine Books for Preschool

From Fancy Nancy to Pete the Cat to Berenstain Bears and Curious George, these books include some of my kids most favorite literary characters. You and your preschool age children (and early elementary as well!) will love the Valentine books for preschool on this list!

A Valentine for Ms. Vanilla

Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink

Pete the Cat: Valentine’s Day Is Cool

The Berenstain Bears’ Valentine Blessings

Love from The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Fancy Nancy: Heart to Heart.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Curious George

Pinkalicious: Pink of Hearts

Pete the Cat’s Groovy Guide to Love

Froggy’s First Kiss

Clifford’s Valentines (Scholastic Reader, Level 1)

Junie B. Jones and the Mushy Gushy Valentine

Nate the Great and the Mushy Valentine

Star Wars: A Very Vader Valentine’s Day

Wrecking Valentine’s Day!

Valentine Books for Older Elementary Kids

Valentine’s Day is not just for young kids. My older elementary kiddos love to read about Valentine’s Day too! Here are a few books that are more appropriate for older children. I’d love to hear if you have ideas not included on this list!

A Short History of Valentine’s Day (Holiday Histories)

The Story of Valentine’s Day

Saint Valentine

Valentine’s Day (Holiday Histories)

Valentine’s Day Jokes for Kids

200+ Valentine’s Day : Knock Knock Jokes, Tongue Twisters, Riddles, & Short Stories for Kids

Spot the Differences: Valentine’s (Puzzle Books for Kids Book 3)

If you liked this post on Valentine’s day books, check out these posts as well:

Fun Learning Activities for Valentine’s Day

Real Food Treats for Valentine’s Day

Red Berry Yogurt Cake for Valentine’s Day

Chocolate Chip Raspberry Scones

Looking for a few new Valentine's Day books this year? This list includes Valentine books for toddlers, Valentine books for preschoolers, and Valentine books for older elementary children as well! Enjoy sharing these lovely books with  your kiddos this Valentine's Day!