"We are two mothers who want our children to know what childhood was like. Before Nintendos, before computers. Before fear of freedom. What it was like for us, and for our mothers, and their mothers. We want them to know adventure, to know play, to know the world. And not the controlled, organised world that modern mothers seem to think they are tied to, but the real, natural world that is here on our doorstep. Come and join us on an adventure in childhood."
There is a lovely tradition we try to celebrate every year which I first came across through some Steiner/Waldorf friends. It is usually celebrated on Martinmas eve which is the 11th November, although it is a lovely thing to do once the darkness draws in and the evenings shorten, a simple symbolic way to entice the light back.
The basic premise is that the children make lanterns and then take a candle lit walk in the dark dark woods! You can either make them together as part of your evening together, or everyone can do them at home and then get together.
There are so many types of lanterns to make. What we did was very simple.
You will need:
A glass jar for each child.
A roll of thin wire eg. florists wire.
Some sheets of coloured tissue paper.
Some pva glue in a small container like an egg cup.
A small brush for each child.
A tealight for each jar.
To begin, tear the tissue paper into small pieces.
Start painting glue onto the glass jar and press pieces of the tissue paper onto it. Continue until the jar is covered.
Once the glue is dry, measure a length of wire to form a long loop, plus extra to wrap around the neck of the jar. Secure it by twisting the ends tightly around the wire where it meets the vertical lengths.
It's important to have a long loop so as to avoid little hands getting too close to the candle!
Once everyone has gathered together outside, the adults can help light the candles. Then we can set off into the dark, dark woods.
These next few photos were taken with a flash so of course it loses the candlelit atmosphere.
It was equal parts thrilling and slightly scary, even for the older children!
They really do get such a thrill out of doing something they would rarely get to otherwise.
There are simple little songs that are traditionally sung for the duration of the walk. It helps if a few people know them to start off. But any song that includes light or sun would do. The walk by the way need only be ten to fifteen minutes long. Believe me, after ten to fifteen minutes tripping through the darkness, their imaginations start to take off, and it's not long before everyone is ready to head indoors for some warming soup!
Autumn has come around again, and it's time for 'Conkers'! This is a game that has been around for generations and is very simple and satisfying to play.
First of all, unless you are lucky enough to have a horse-chestnut tree in your garden, a walk in the woodlands is essential. So on a crisp morning off we go hunting in the woods.
You'll often find the biggest and best chestnuts are the ones still in the shells.
If you do find one, standing on it is usually enough to open it and you can peel it back to uncover the shiny treasure inside.
We usually fill a bag or basket as there are lots of other things you can do with them, as we will show you later.
When you get home, the first thing to do is to bore a hole through the fresh chestnut or conker. Please make sure an adult does this bit! It needs to be a fresh one as a seasoned one would be very difficult.
Then if you have an old shoe-lace, or if not, a piece of string, about half a metre long, on a darning needle, you can thread it through. Again, best if an adult does this bit.
Tie a knot at one end and wrap about half of the string around your hand, with the conker hanging at the end.
The idea of the game is to smash as many conkers as possible. Your opponent holds out his piece of string on which he has his conker. To get a good hard hit, hold the string in your strong hand and pull it out tight, holding the conker between two fingers. Take aim, then take a shot at hitting it off your opponents conker.
You can take turns, or allow three tries each before swapping over, playing until one of them is smashed or disintegrates. If you manage to smash his with your own then your chestnut is called a conker (conqueror). Although over the years, all chestnuts have become known as conkers!
Traditionally, there were little rhymes you would say, for example, if you want to get the first hit when you see your friend with his conker you would say,
"Hick, hack,first crack!"
"Obbly, obbly, onker, my first conker!"
You would also give your winning conker a name which depended on how many other conkers it had destroyed. For example a 'Twoer', or a 'Fiver' adding them up as you beat each one. And a real winner would often be held over until the following year, when it was well seasoned and would beat all, hands down!
This is a variation on the paper people we used to make when we were small. It takes very little in terms of materials, and is a nice little occupier for those moments when you need a half hour to get dinner on.
You will need: A sheet of A4 paper. A scissors. Some small scraps of fabric or coloured paper. PVA glue. A piece of ribbon or string.
Take a sheet of A4 paper and cut it in half lengthwise, then fold it back on itself four times, like this.
Younger children will need help with the cutting out. On the top fold, you can either draw a woman-shape and cut around it, or just do it free hand. We did a woman shape so that afterwards we could cut legs for men-shapes on every second one.
As you can see here.
You can also get creative with their shapes!
Then you can draw funny faces on the heads.
Next, cut the scraps into small squares.
Make sure you put down some newspaper to protect the table, and an apron or old clothes are worn. PVA does not wash out!
These are then glued on as clothes on the little figures.
When the glue is dry you can make a small hole at each end and thread the ribbon through, and you are ready to hang it up.
They look very sweet, and I find get lots of lovely comments!
This is one of those games to play anywhere, at the drop of a hat, when you're out and about and you don't have any props. It can be played with any number of children and is one of those that is as much fun with three as with ten.
How To Play:
Choose a player to be Grandmother and then the rest of the children stand in a line a few metres behind her/him.
Granny turns her back and says quietly to his/herself 'One two three do you want to play with me'? While behind her the others have to make their way to her as quickly and quietly as possible.
Granny can turn around at any moment, although the rhyme gives the other players enough time to get moving, and when she does the players must freeze. Anyone caught moving must go back to the beginning.
The first player to reach Granny then becomes Granny for the next round.
A game like this is great for filling time or lightening the mood or just when a good run around is required!
Who needs a magic 8 ball? These clever little origami will keep 'tweeners amused for hours!
1) Cut a square of plain paper 2) Fold in the corners 3)Turn the folded side away from you and fold the corners in again. 4) Fold in half. 5) Get your index fingers and thumbs up under the outer folds and bring to meet in the middle.
6)Mark the outer corners with numbers, the inner corners with colours and inside each fold a result of the question, ie Yes, No, Maybe etc... (we ues perhaps, absolutely! you never know! etc) 7) Ask the paper teller a question, for example Will we have rain tomorrow? The questioner picks a number and the informer opens and shuts opposite corners of the teller that number of times, then the questioner picks a colour from inside and the informer spells that while opening the opposite corners... then finally the informer picks again from the colours and under the colour will be their answer!!