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Samhain, when autumn meets winter

Samhain, from the Gaelic word meaning ‘summer’s end’, is halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. In Britain, the clocks go back and the evenings are dark. It is the turning point when autumn moves towards the cold of winter.

This year the changing of the clocks coincides with Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, making for an atmospheric time to visit the woods. Why not get together with friends to make an edible mandala to celebrate autumn and the changing season, using this extract from The Children’s Forest.

Extract taken from The Children’s Forest by Dawn Casey, Anna Richardson and Helen d’Ascoli.

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New Books for Autumn 2021

This autumn we are publishing several new books, including Making Waldorf Crafts by Nina Taylor, World Tales for Family Storytelling by Chris Smith and Creative Form Drawing with children aged 9-12 years by Angela Lord.

Making Waldorf Crafts is a recipe book to guide young people through making things on their own (with a little help or guidance from an adult, if needed).

Projects include finger knitting, knitted animals, sewing a flute case and keeping a Handwork Diary. Regular teaching tips guide adults in how best to demonstrate skills and how to make them engaging.

The author, Nina Taylor has spent thirty years in Steiner-Waldorf settings as Handwork Teacher in Canterbury and a qualified Steiner-Waldorf Class Teacher Training at Rudolf Steiner House. 

In World Tales for Family Storytelling, children will find 53 ready to tell stories, which are short, simple and quick to learn. They draw on traditional tales, told in the voice of a storyteller.

Author Chris Smith says, ‘These wonderful world tales are all selected from the highly acclaimed 147 Traditional Stories for Primary School Children to Retell, a reference book used by teachers around the globe. In this collection for home use, we focus on tales for children aged 4-6. The stories may be read, told and retold and then explored within the family. They offer a rich vein of world heritage, giving your family a doorway into the wonderful world of traditional tales. Enjoy!‘ 

Chris Smith is a storyteller, musician, educator, father and founder of Storytelling Schools, where children learn to be storytellers. He believes in the power of storytelling to help families thrive.

The second workbook in Angela Lord’s Creative Form Drawing series, Creative Form Drawing with children aged 9-12 years is a form drawing resource for teachers. It is designed to be used with the Steiner/Waldorf curriculum in classes four and five, although it will also be valuable to home-educating parents using the Steiner/Waldorf ethos as their base.

Visit the Hawthorn Press website for our full range of craft, storytelling and Steiner-Waldorf education books.

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Making Waldorf Crafts

This autumn we publish Making Waldorf Crafts by Nina Taylor – a recipe book to guide young people through making things on their own (with a little help or guidance from an adult, if needed).

Techniques in the book include spinning, knitting, sewing and weaving for complete beginners with clear step-by-step illustrations. The projects and techniques are accompanied by stories and anecdotes with a narrative that children won’t be able to resist, with tips for including your own interactive storytelling into sessions.

Group tasks are suggested, as well as individual projects and skills to learn. Some of the more complex projects may require one-to-one attention, so there are also activities included for young people to be getting on with while they are waiting for help, so the teacher isn’t dashing from person to person. Regular teaching tips from the author show you how best to demonstrate skills and how to keep the lessons engaging.

The author, Nina Taylor, has decades of teaching and teacher-training experience which she has distilled onto the pages of the book. Invaluable for teachers Making Waldorf Crafts is also a book to be used by children at home as they make their first creative ventures.

The more we take into account that intellect develops from the movement of limb, from dexterity and skills, the better it will be.

Rudolf Steiner

As school curriculums are under more pressure to fulfill academic goals, these projects will provide opportunities to develop dexterity, hand-eye co-ordination and creativity with a series of tried and tested, age-appropriate projects to gradually build up skills.

Rudolf Steiner was ahead of his time in recognising the benefits of making with the hands and observed that embodied learning promoted cognitive development in other areas too. This is never more true than in the delicate process of learning where young children are involved.

Making Waldorf Crafts is available to pre-order now. Browse our full range of craft titles on our website.

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Tackling the nappy mountain

“If you use one reusable nappy once a day you could save up to 365 disposable nappies going into land fill every year.”

In this extract from Small Steps to Less Waste: stories to inspire change, Carly Catalano discusses the many benefits of switching to reusable nappies.

Carly Catalano and her daughter Flo

An estimated three billion disposable nappies are used every year in the UK. That is a crazy amount, especially when most disposable nappies don’t get recycled and end up in landfill or get burnt. Throwaway nappies not only contain plastic but are packaged in it as well. According to Friends of the Earth, they can take up to 500 years to break down, and even when they do they will produce methane which contributes to global warming.

In the long run reusable nappies will save you money. It is said that by the time children are potty trained they will have used up to 6,000 disposable nappies, which will go directly into landfill. To save on water, I do also suggest that when you clean your reusable nappies you wait until you have a full load of washing.

Resusable nappies and homemade cloths used instead of instead of wet wipes

There is some good news though: disposable nappies create so much household waste that the UK Government has now started taking action on this. There are plans to set up a Government-led campaign to promote reusable nappies and help families cut down on single-use plastic, which is a huge step. The Nappies (Environmental Standards) Bill 2017–19, will encourage all local authorities to implement the scheme that will help people to start using reusable nappies.
I feel extremely lucky that Gloucester has a scheme already in place to help parents purchase reusable nappies. I took advantage of this and bought from the company Tot Bots. Stroud Maternity Hospital also provides you with a reusable nappy when you have a baby there.

Nappy rash
• The UK disposes of around 3 billion disposable nappies
each year, representing an estimated 2% to 3% of all
household waste.
• By the time one baby is potty trained the baby could use
4,000 to 6,000 disposable nappies. In comparison, a
baby only needs around 20 to 30 modern reuseable
nappies and these can also be used by any siblings that
come along.
• Although reuseable nappies cost a few pounds each
initially and need to be laundered, they can save parents
around £200 to £500 over 2.5 years for their first baby
and even more if reused for subsequent children.

Join us for a launch event of Small Steps to Less Waste as part of Stroud Book Festival, Sat 6 Nov 2021 3pm @AtelierStroud

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Lughnasa – Harvest Time

Early August sees the start of Lughnasa, the late summer festival celebrating the ripening of berries and nuts in the forest and the first harvest in the fields.

Lughnasa is named after the Irish hero, Lugh, who many think of as a sun god. In later times, Lughnasa was named Lammas (‘loaf-mass’) in reference to the beginning of harvest.

In farmlands all over Europe, it was believed that the spirit of the corn lived amongst the crop, and so was made homeless by the harvest. It was the custom to fashion the last sheaf of wheat into a corn ‘dolly’, so that the spirit of the corn could spend the winter in this home, until the ‘dolly’ was ploughed back into the land in the new season.

In forest glades and edge-lands, wild grass, rather than cultivated grain, is in seed, and can be used to make a simple ‘dolly’. Here, in this extract from The Children’s Forest, we show you how to make your own Plaited Grass Dolly:

This extract is taken from The Children’s Forest: Stories & songs, wild food, crafts & celebrations by Dawn Casey, Anna Richardson and Helen d’Ascoli. Many of the songs from The Children’s Forest are now available online, so you can sing along even if you don’t read music.