Living Arts Weekly: Preparing

September 30, 2018

Little squirrel up in the tree, runs along the branch so free

Gathering nuts to nibble and crunch, saving them for winter’s lunch!

Won’t you stop and play with me? No, no, no, I’m busy you see!

This time of year calls us to prepare. Like the approaching cold months urging the squirrel to prepare, life with young children calls us to be prepared; from the healthy snacks we keep in our bag, to the extra change of clothes, to the emergency tissue up the sleeve. As I was thinking about this week’s theme of “preparing”, one of our online students, Sol, shared this story:

We were at the beach and my child was playing with a silk scarf, completely immersed with it and the sand. I love that toys are not a necessity, you just use whatever natural element is available to you in your context and flow with it. I had an interesting moment that day because it  seemed we were the only ones at the beach doing this; everyone else had a bag full of plastic sand toys. So a lady came over and laid down a bunch of her toys for my daughter to play with, as her little girl had many. I guess it was strange for us to not carry a bunch of toys to the beach. It was a bit awkward because I felt momentarily as though I wasn’t properly prepared with my child, and I couldn’t explain to her either that no, we would rather just play with the scarf and the sea shells and the sand. I think that is what is so magical about children putting their entire body, soul and spirit into everything they do, with complete presence.


We often think of preparing with “stuff”.  (It’s not just the Boy Scouts whose motto is: Be Prepared.) I love Sol’s story, because it reminds me that by allowing our children to play with simple things (sand or a stick or a silk scarf), we are preparing them for a lifetime of learning and creativity. What preparations will you make this week, both material and non-material?

Happy preparing!

Mary O’Connell, Your Living Arts Weekly editor

Nurturing Care

Keep your little ones warm with a DIY felted wool vest 

As we approach cooler weather, our thoughts turn to warmth. One of the most satisfying parent evenings I ever hosted was one in which we talked about the importance of warmth for the young child, and each parent made his or her child a felted wool vest to wear during their outdoor play time at LifeWays Milwaukee. It was an easy, social activity for the parents to do together and the children loved their special woolly vests made for them by their parents.

Here is a tutorial for making a child-sized felted wool vest for your child.  Adult-sized 100% wool sweaters for machine felting are easy to find at the local thrift shops. Just remember that it needs to be 100% wool (no rayon or acrylic, or it won’t felt properly.)


And, if you want to get fancy, here is a free decorative sheep pattern to add, for all you needle felters out there!

Practical Activity

All natural window washing solution


Spring and fall are the times when we wash windows at our house. This is a chore little ones love to help with, because squirting and wiping are fun! An all-natural cleaner in a child-sized squirt bottle keeps everyone safe and engaged.

Green Living, from National Geographic, recommends this simple recipe, plus a few extra tips for the best window cleaning outcome.

  • In a spray bottle, mix 50% distilled vinegar (white) and 50% tap water.
  • For extremely grimy glass, prewash with very soapy water, then go to the vinegar spray.
  • Got highly resistant spots? Try rubbing hard with a cloth dipped in undiluted vinegar.

To learn more about how to involve children in practical work at home or in your early childhood program, check out three fantastic books from our LifeWays bookstore:

  1. Life is the Curriculumby LifeWays founder and executive director, Cynthia Aldinger.
  2. Joyful Toddlers and Preschoolersby LifeWays lead teacher, Faith Collins
  3. Childhood is a Verb, by LifeWays teacher and mentor, Bente Goldstein

Creative Exploration

Nutkin and Twitchet

An original lap or table puppet story from Pamela Perkins

Nutkin and Twitchet are two squirrel friends

Who live in the forest down where the road ends

Racing and chasing up trees and down ( or: up hill and down)

They whisk and they frisk all over the ground


Whirling and twirling, they jump and they leap;

They flick and they flitter as they play hide and seek.

Skitter, scatter, chitter, chatter!

Soft furry flashes of grey

Gathering seeds, acorns and berries

All through the warm autumn day


At last they grow tired and so very sleepy

From nibbling and storing and play.

They head to their home in the tall pine tree

Where they’ve built their tousled twig dray.


One last peek at each other, then they pop out of sight

And Mother Wind rocks them, and sings them good night.

Autumn fairies gather

Day’s last golden threads

And weave gossamer coverlets

For small sleepyheads.


(Song: All Shall Be Well…or another sweet lullaby of your choosing.)


At last from his rocky root home ‘neath the pine

Mossybeard comes out into moon-and-star shine

High above, squirrels sleep without worry or care

Knowing that Old Gnome is guarding them there.

(Hum the same lullabye and cover all with a deep blue night silk.)

[Thank you to Cynthia for the lovely singing!  Pamela Perkins has worked with and for children in various capacities since 1970. A former Waldorf teacher, LifeWays graduate and home provider, she now delights in being with her five granddaughters, plus creating magical needle-felted puppet stories and writing gentle tales to nurture young and old. She lives in the Upper Valley of Vermont, and is working on her new writing project Silver Seedlings – Nurturing Tales for the Young and Young at Heart.]

Social Awareness

List your program on the LifeWays website!

Do you have a childcare program? Please consider listing your program on the LifeWays North America website!

Graduates from the LifeWays EC Certification Training, we have a special category just for you! Your listing helps support an organization you love — it’s an easy way to give back.

For those of you who haven’t yet taken the LifeWays EC Certification training but feel you are aligned with LifeWays’ principles, listing on our website is a great way to promote your program to like-minded families!

Click here to learn how to list your program today!