Thursday, January 26, 2017

Waldorf art classes for kids: Watercolour painting & crochet

We started our second round of Waldorf-inspired art classes for kids today.  We have been looking forward to meeting all the new children, and reacquainting with the returning ones.  These classes allow the children to explore a variety of art mediums and techniques, using simple classic handcrafting processes, and natural materials.  Today's session for the Young Acorns (ages 4-6) was wet-on-wet watercolour painting, the classic Waldorf tradition of exploring simple colours using wide brushes, simple lines, and wet paper as the base.  The colours run unexpectedly, and blend beautifully. We explored spring themes (even though we are only at the tail end of January), since there is grass showing outside and all our snow has melted (for now) - so yellow and green were our colours today.  The children talked about what those colours represented to them (e.g. sun, dandelions, joyfulness).

The Green Saplings (ages 7-12) also had the chance to try out crochet.  We started with "finger crochet", a basic cord without using crochet hooks, so that everyone could get familiar with the pattern of repeated loops.  Then those who felt ready moved on to using the crochet hooks to create long chains, headbands, bracelets.  The repeated pattern of crochet is simple enough for kids to learn in a few minutes.  Crochet can even feel meditative, and the room felt very peaceful as everyone worked steadily at their creations.  We also love knowing that these classes offer kids practical skills for their life - for example using crochet or knitting to make a warm scarf, wool felting slippers or toys, sewing clothing for themselves, wood working skills to use toward building a house someday, and so on.

Simple herbal throat lozenges

The freeze and thaw of this year's unusually warm January seems to bring about more colds, as our bodies are having trouble adjusting to the weather properly.  Here is a quick herbal throat lozenge recipe that we love to make, perfect for treating those sore aching throats with soothing, healing herbs.  These lozenges are so delicious, and very simple to make.  They are a soft lozenge which does not require heating (hard lozenges are made like candy, heating the liquid and honey/sugar up to a high temperature so they harden properly).  These soft lozenges are simply rolled by hand, and kids love to help with this sticky process of making homemade folk medicine.  They are best stored in the freezer, so their shelf life is prolonged - and popping an icy cold herbal lozenge into a sore throat is intensely soothing.

Simple herbal throat lozenges

You will need:
2 Tbsp raw honey
2-6 Tbsp powdered slippery elm
1-2 Tbsp powdered herbs such as fennel seed, marshmallow root, or licorice root (or a combination)

1) Mix raw honey and half the powdered slippery elm on a small plate.  Mix well until you have a paste-like "dough".  Add enough powdered slippery elm to make this a consistency that can be rolled into balls.  Depending on the consistency of the honey you will need more or less slippery elm powder.  Work with your hands (or small spoons), but you may need to wash your hands occasionally if the honey gets too sticky.

2) Roll this "dough" into small balls.  This recipe yields about 15-20 small lozenge sized balls.  Then roll the balls in powdered fennel seed, marshmallow root, or licorice root to coat the balls.  Place on parchment paper. 

3) Place the parchment paper with the lozenges in the freezer for about 15 minutes.  Once frozen, the balls can be stored in a glass mason jar with lid, and left in the freezer until you need them.  Label and date the jar.  These keep almost indefinitely in the freezer (at room temperature they will not hold their shape for long).

4) Use 1-2 lozenges at a time, as needed.  Please note that children under the age of 2 should not be given raw honey.