Jenny's Waldorf Homeschool Classes

August 31, 2010

Journal from Waldorf Homeschool conference: 8/28

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Jenny Sage @ 1:15 pm

This morning, we went for a nature walk before doing anything else. It was so early, that the pond and the hills were swathed in white mist, which glowed bright in the sunlight. We saw dozens of perfectly-spun spiderwebs, glistening with diamond-like dewdrops. The spiders weave these breathtakingly intricate forms fresh every night, up on this hillside, since they don’t last through the day. Many of them still had spiders of various colors and sizes in their centers.

We also saw a turkey nest, hidden in the tall grass. The five or six eggs in it had long since been cracked in half, and nothing remained except a damp-looking feather or two.

Later in the morning, we studied optics. Using spotting scopes, hand lenses, a textile lens, and microscopes, we examined various natural items. Anything looks amazing when magnified, from the skin on my hand, to the barbs of a thistle. Then we took a walk with the hand lenses, examining anything and everything. We saw all the inner texture of orange spotted touch-me-nots, and I got a revealing view of the underside of a caterpillar– feet, jaws and all. It was so much fun, I can’t wait to have equipment like this in my “classroom”.

In the evenings, we have been talking about different ways of organizing the year, and the Main Lesson blocks. I have been grateful for the advice of many seasoned Waldorf teachers and homeschool moms, as I’ve been tweaking my own Main Lesson block schedule. I am happy with the result, which will be up on my website soon. If you are interested, and want to see the schedule of subjects my classes will cover, check the “schedule and tuition” page of my site. It will be getting some exciting new updates in the very near future.

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August 28, 2010

Yesterday’s journal from a Waldorf Homeschool Teacher conference

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Jenny Sage @ 1:41 pm

Greetings! After a long summer of working and studying hard, I am finally finding some time to update this blog. Just four days ago, I got back from a long, intensive Spacial Dynamics training. (for more info: http://www.spacialdynamics.com/english/) I am now finished with the first of five years. This session was mostly devoted to the study of childhood and child development, and I now have even more movement games and activities to share with the children I will help to teach in the coming year. Some people have asked me to describe Spacial Dynamics, but that task is not an easy one. Most broadly put, it is the process of redefining our relationships to to our bodies and the space around them, in order to become more free, and more fully human.

Now I am in a beautifully hilly, farm-covered part of eastern Ohio. I am resting in the grass, beneath a huge, spreading maple tree. While writing, I have watched an inchworm inching up a blade of grass, a wasp-like insect carrying along another insect as big as itself, and a yellow butterfly, which flitted right up to my face before going off again.

The warm, midwestern sun is especially welcome after some rainy days in upstate NY. I’m staying for a few days on a farm of 65 acres, ffor a training specifically for Waldorf homeschoolers, and teachers of Waldorf homeschooled children. This morning, I showed up for a session on animal studies, for fourth grade. I have no fourth graders yet in my program, but it was the only option besides grades 1 or 5. The man teaching the class turned out to be, not a Waldorf teacher exactly, but an experienced naturalist, who has worked as a forester in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and led youth wilderness canoe trips in the Adirondacks. Nobody wanted to go over the classic, grade 4 animal curriculum, so we discussed field guides for a while, then headed out for a nature walk. We looked for tracks, and managed to find those of a raccoon, well-formed. Deviating from our “intended” purpose, we found and identified several species of caterpillars, spiders, mushrooms, and other interesting plants and insects.

Far from being merely a nice walk, the morning inspired me with new ideas for how to approach nature studies in the coming year. In Waldorf schools, the more scientific aspects of ecology and biology are preceded by more imaginative nature stories, through which younger children can breathe themselves into the world of nature in a way that is appropriate to their level of development, and which therefore impresses in them a deep, long-lasting love for nature. What could be a better way to build a bridge between the nature stories of first and second grades, and the more analytical studies of fourth and beyond, than to engage in wonder-filled observation and identification, as we did this morning?

After lunch, we studied form drawing for grades 2 and 3. Form drawings are archetypal forms, often found in nature. When done in the right way, they are said to support the developing inner lives of the children, especially between grades 1 and 4. Personally, I believe that I can feel similarities between the forms we made today on paper, and the forms we lived into with our bodies in space, in Spacial Dynamics. Part of my job, as a teacher, is to refrain from pointing out these similarities blatantly: instead, the children should have the freedom to feel their way into the subjects by discovering connections on their own, and thereby making them their own. This experience of discovering together is one of my greatest joys in teaching, and one of the very many things that help me to be so excited for the coming year.

For more information on Taproot Farm, where I am currently staying, see: http://www.waldorfwithoutwalls.com/

May 5, 2010

A Fun Superhero Story

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Jenny Sage @ 9:41 pm

In a Waldorf first grade, every letter sound is introduced through a story. The story is told first, and allowed to digest; then, the children are asked to remember the story, and are finally introduced to a letter sound from a prominent thing or character in the story. (F from a story about a Fish, for example.) That way, the sounds of the letters come alive in children’s imaginations, and become linked to the letter in a real and living, rather than a dead and abstract, way. Now that spring is really underway, the children are bouncy and happy, and ready for stories that are less contemplative, and more lighthearted. So, I wrote this story to introduce the sound of “ng” or “ing”. After they had entered into the story and enjoyed telling it back to me the next day, they were eager to discuss “ing”, and make a list of words that can end with “ing.”

The Story of Action Girl

Once upon a time there was a girl named Lisa, who loved to sit in her room, drawing pictures. Drawing pictures was her favorite thing in the world. She loved to draw trees, and horses, and flowers, and castles. But most of all, she loved to draw superheros. She made up all sorts of characters, such as Talking-to-Trees Boy, Climbing-up-Clouds Woman, Swimming-Really-Fast Man, and her favorite, Throwing-Fire-Fairy. Each one of her superheros had a special power, such as seeing in the dark, or zipping to any other place in the world with a snap of the fingers. Some days she just made up characters out of nothing, but more often, she liked to draw superheros based on her friends. Tom, for example, was Super Strong Man, and Megan was Ogre Woman. But she never drew a superhero identity for herself, because she just could not think of what she wanted to be. “Maybe I could turn invisible…” she thought to herself. “Or maybe change into any color. Or maybe…” but she just couldn’t decide on anything.
Then, finally, it dawned on her. She drew the most wonderful, super Superhero she had ever created yet. This superhero could do anything. There was no limit to what she could accomplish. All she had to do was imagine it, because that was her power. Being able to do whatever she could picture in her imagination. She decided to call her Action Girl.
After that, Action Girl had many adventures in Lisa’s drawings. She vanquished bad guys, saved whole cities, and sometimes even saved the whole world and the whole universe. Lisa began to draw a series of portraits of Action Girl, each one of her doing a different kind of action. They hung all about her bedroom, with captions underneath that read “running,” “jumping,” “flying,” “swimming,” “diving,” even “singing.” In that picture, Action Girl was using her magical voice to remind all of the flowers to come back in the springtime, after an evil witch had put a spell on them to keep them below the earth.
One day, when Lisa was running around outside, pretending to be Action Girl, she saw something glittering in the grass under a tree. She ran over and bent down, to find a strangely shaped crystal nestled by the tree roots. “Strange,” she said. “I would have noticed that there before. I wonder where it came from.” She tentatively picked it up, and when she turned it over, she saw some words written on the bottom: I AM A MAGIC DREAM STONE. I MAKE YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE. “Make my dreams come true?” wondered Lisa. “That sounds like fun! But I wonder if it actually works…” She wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do, picking up something like this when she didn’t know where it had come from, or if somebody had lost it. But she could not contain her curiosity, so she pocketed it, and went dashing home.
At home, she sat down to dinner with her mom, and gobbled her food just as fast as she could. She went upstairs and took out her stone. “Ok stone,” she said, “I wish for a chocolate birthday cake!” But nothing happened. “Ok,” she said, “that didn’t work. I wish for a puppy.”  Still nothing happened, so she tried rubbing it like the magic lamp out of the legends. But still nothing happened. She threw it, and banged it, and jumped on it, and wished as many wishes as she could possibly think of, but none of her wishes came true.
“What good are you?” she said to it at last. Feeling tired out, she threw it under her bed, where she shoved all the extra things that were lying around, whenever her mother told her to clean her room. Then she flopped into bed, pulled up the covers, and fell asleep.
That night, she had a dream that she was Action Girl. She was fighting against Nasty Man, the scariest bad guy ever. He was larger than a house, and when he stepped, the ground shook, and buildings collapsed. He was heading towards town, to wreck all of the houses, but Action Girl flew up onto a rooftop and called out to him. “Hey Nasty Man!” she cried. “I’m going to get you! You can’t get away with this!”
When Nasty Man saw Action Girl, he came right towards her. He reached out one of his huge, hairy hands to catch her. She panicked, trying to think of what to do to defeat him. His hand came closer and closer, until… she woke up.
“Oh,” said Lisa, stretching. “What a strange dream!” The sun was shining outside her window. It looked like it was going to be another beautiful day. She got out of bed, and was about to pull a T-shirt and some shorts out of a drawer, when a loud, thunderous THUMP! shook the floor so hard that it knocked her down. “What was that?” she cried. She could her her mother downstairs, crying out the same thing. As she pulled herself back up, she caught a glance of the mirror across the room. What she saw made her stop and stare in amazement. It was not plain old Lisa who was staring back at her, but Action Girl, all geared up and ready to go!
The THUMP! sounded again outside. “I must be dreaming,” she said to herself. “I must still be asleep.” Then she thought of the crystal that was lying under her bed. What was it that was written on the bottom of it? I MAKE YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE. “Oh no!” Lisa groaned. Outside, another loud THUMP! sounded.
“Ok then,” said Action Girl. “If that dream really did come true, then I really do have all those powers. I am the only one who can save the town from Nasty Man!” And with a blink of her eyes, she found herself outside on the roof of her house.
“You can’t get me, Nasty Man!” she called out.
Nasty Man turned, and when he saw her, he reached out to grab her with his huge, hairy hand. It was just the same as what had happened in her dream. His hand came closer until he grabbed her, and she was suddenly being lifted up, and everything was dark except for the cracks between her fingers. But she called out, “you think you can get me that easily? Well you can’t! Because I’m shrinking!” And as soon as she saw herself shrinking in her imagination, she really did shrink, until she was so small, she fell through his fingers.
“Haha,” laughed Nasty Man in his gruff voice. “Now you’re falling!”
But Action Girl cried back, “No I’m not, I’m flying!” And so she was. She wheeled around through the air, and flew in Nasty Man’s face like a mosquito or a black fly. But as Nasty Man kept trying to swat at her, she realized that this wasn’t the safest thing to be doing. Quickly, she zoomed back to the rooftop, and there she collected her wits while she was growing back to her normal size.
“Growing!” she cried. “That’s it!” Quickly, Action Girl leapt off the rooftop, but before she even fell to the ground, she had grown large, twice the size of Nasty Man, and her feet hit the ground as if it had been just a short hop. “Take that, Nasty Man!” She shouted.
But Nasty Man only began to laugh, and throw balls of fire at her. They simply poofed up out of his fists, one after another.
“Oh no,” thought Action Girl. “Now I’m… Running!” She ran and ran, so fast that the fire balls didn’t hurt her. But Nasty Man came after her, and he was running pretty fast, too. She ran away from the town, as fast as she could go, which was pretty fast, because running fast was one of her superpowers. Nasty Man chased her the whole way, which Action Girl was glad about, because it meant he was getting farther and farther away from the town. They ran until they finally came to the sea, and Action Girl shrank back to her normal size and began flying again, out over the waves.
“Bet you can’t catch me!” she called out. “I’m flying!”
“Oh yeah?” called Nasty Man. He waded into the ocean, and came out to where she was flitting about, and grabbed at her several times, but kept on missing. But then he began to throw fire again, and Action Girl realized that this wasn’t safe at all. “I’m diving!” she thought, and instantly she cruised down, down towards the waves. Then she sliced into them with hardly a splash, and she was swimming. The fireballs were hitting the waves above her, and going out. “Phew,” said Action Girl, “That was a close one.” She wanted to stay safe for a while, so she began breathing underwater. After some time, she calmed down, and realized that the deep green of the sea around her was very beautiful. Nasty Man swiped his clumsy fists into the water for some time, trying to catch her, but finally he gave up and headed away.
“Oh no,” thought Action Girl. “He’s going back to the village!”
But just as she was about to rise up out of the water and go flying back after Nasty Man, something green caught her eye, far below. It was huge, and long, and moving back and forth under the waves. “I am… seeing better,” said Action Girl, and her eyes became as clear and sharp as if she were up on land, and not looking through deep, murky water.
“Why, it’s a sea serpent!” She realized instantly that the sea serpent could be useful, so she enacted the latest power that came into her imagination: Talking to sea serpents.
“Oh sea serpent,” she cried, in sea serpent language. “You must come and help me! Nasty Man is trying to destroy my town!”
When the sea serpent heard her, he rose up under her, and she clung onto his slippery, scaly back as he rose with her out of the water. He had great, huge wings, which he stretched open as they broke the surface. Up into the air they rose, and Action Girl spoke to the sea serpent to tell him which way they were going. By the time they got back to the town, Nasty Man was there, and he had already crushed two houses. “Oh no!” cried Action Girl. But the sea serpent, who was positively monstrous, looked down at Nasty Man, and thought that he would make a good snack. So he opened his jaws, and with one gulp, he swallowed Nasty Man up for his lunch.
“Oh thank you,” said Action Girl, as she flew up off of his back. “Thank you, brave Sea Serpent!”
“On the contrary,” the sea serpent replied. “Thank you for helping me to find such a filling, tasty lunch!” Then he turned back towards the sea, and flew off.
Action Girl flew down to the ground, and quickly used her super powers to begin rebuilding the two houses that had fallen down. After she was finished with that, she flew back into her own room in her own house, through the window that she had left open. She found the stone under her bed, flew back out to the forest, and then threw it away, as far away as it could possibly go. (Throwing far was also one of her superpowers.)
“No wonder I found it lying there so suddenly,” she said, as it landed far away out of sight. “Somebody else didn’t want it either!”
Then she went home to her mom, who was sitting in the kitchen.
“Where have you been, Lisa?” asked her mom. “I had the strangest dream that a terrible earthquake began destroying our town. But it must have been only a dream, because the houses that it had destroyed are standing outside, as whole as ever. Come sit down and have some breakfast.”
And that is just what Lisa did.

April 8, 2010

Of Running and Music

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Jenny Sage @ 9:05 pm

This story begins with a new pair of running shoes. I ran on them yesterday for the first time, and found the experience to be utterly disheartening. Barely a mile out, and my feet were in excruciating pain, my whole body felt like collapsing, and I was miserably short of breath. My first run of the season, after a long, cold winter of not running at all, was three miles, and it was easy. So why this sudden frustration? I blamed it on the shoes. I took them off in despair, and carried them home, my bare feet hating me the whole way. Back in my apartment, I collapsed into my favorite papasan chair, ruthlessly upset at myself for having thrown away the receipt.

But after a short nap, and after summoning up the determination not to give up yet, I turned to that one, great dispenser of all knowledge that has come, in our time, to be revered above most other things: The Internet. (Those who are adept runners will know where I am going with this. But bear with me. There’s more.) On the internet, I discovered that my shoes do, in fact, fit. Perfectly. So what was the problem? For one thing, all sites offering advice to new runners say never, ever to pull a new pair of shoes right out of the box and go for a long run in them. It’s important, I learned, to break them in first. This had me convinced partially, but I still had the feeling that there was more going on. These shoes felt sloppy on my feet.

But to make a long part of this story slightly shorter, I discovered, in my searchings, that perhaps it was not my shoes that were sloppy, but my running technique. So I read up on that some more, and found that I had, in fact, been doing the wrong thing with my feet all along. Of particular interest to me was Barefoot Ken Bob’s website (http://therunningbarefoot.com/). He explains that, if you run barefoot, you cannot help but run correctly. So this morning, still highly skeptical about this claim, I took a couple of barefoot laps around my tiny living room. To my surprise, I found out instantly what he was talking about!

Feeling inspired, I laced on the new shoes again, and headed out. What a different world! I had to think hard each time a foot came down, and it took a while to get the hang of it. But as running well started to come more naturally, I also began to realize that now, these shoes were supporting and going with my movements, instead of resisting them. So there it is. These shoes were built to require me to run properly. As I jogged easily homeward, I thought to myself, I think I would like to try running a 5k.

But wait. Hold on there. This statement means little when coming from many people. But the fact that it floated into my mind is nothing short of miraculous. For all of my life, running has been my arch nemesis. The one thing I truly hated. Even as a child, I hated to run, or even to walk or stand. After my persistence in lying down in a corner while shopping in department stores, and collapsing to the ground near to tears while waiting in lines, my parents brought me to a podiatrist, who diagnosed me as a severe overpronator. For whatever reason, I never had custom orthotics or corrective surgery; I did receive better sneakers, and when I was a teenager, I discovered athletic shoes that could  help with my particular problem. But for the most part, I simply learned to deal with the pain that happened whenever I had to be on my feet. I accepted it as part of my life. Whenever someone mentioned running, I would screw up my face and express my hatred. I hated even watching other people run.

Then, about a year ago, I got incredibly sick. Whatever I had, it was a high fever that kept me unable to get up for an entire month. Not having health insurance, I simply laid on the couch, waiting it out. Even after I got better, it was a long, long time before I was able do very much. I had grown into a habit of lassitude; I lacked ambition and felt depressed.

Then one morning I woke up and decided that I had to do something to get out of this rut that being sick had put me in. Therefore, I was going running. Was I crazy? I amazed myself when I realized that I was actually going to do it, and I amazed myself even more when I ran, with a couple of short walking breaks, for two miles. After that, running became my utmost joy. I ran every day that I possibly could.

This morning, as I jogged home in my new running shoes, I smiled as I thought these things over, and realized how far I have come. Back in college (and before that as well, come to think of it), my relationship to my body was tenuous at best. I did not consider myself to be flexible, coordinated, or athletic. I should mention that I WAS headed in that direction: I took up swimming laps, and learned various kinds of dancing. But my body was more like a loose cloud that I inhabited; my relationship to it was not real, focused or immediate.

Since college, that has changed. I took up skiing, after not having skied for ten years, and found the experience to be revelatory and exhilarating. Next, I took up kayaking, and, as we’ve seen, the following summer I took up running. People who have not seen me for a long time all think that I’ve lost weight. But in fact, the number on the scale has remained constant, to within five pounds, for the last ten years. So what’s happened? My body certainly has changed. It is more condensed, more focused, in a way, than it was. It belongs to me more, and I belong in it more. To experience this is to experience being more fully alive, more fully human.

So why am I writing all this in a blog about my professional education program? The answer lies in the fact that this story has a dark side, which has shadowed everything I’ve written so far. You may have guessed it, if you read the title.

All my life, since I was a young child, I have been a musician. Back in college — in a prestigious Music Conservatory, to be precise — I was on the fast track towards becoming a professional musician. I practiced for five hours every day, played the most virtuosic Vivaldi concertos at 132, and was headed (or so we all believed) to the very best graduate schools in Europe. I was one of the best performers in my department. Until suddenly, due to several disastrous chains of events that aren’t worth delving into here, that ball got dropped. I plummeted, hard and irreversibly, right out of that scene. Although I have taught music lessons, in the years since then, I have not touched my instrument or played for myself, in my own right. Often I ask myself what life would be like right now, if I were graduating from The Hague, in the Netherlands. I wonder, sometimes, if I gave up on my true task.

But while running this morning, I could not help but ponder the correlation between giving up music, and gaining this new relationship with my body. I remembered how many aches and pains and injuries, even serious digestive upsets, I used to have when I played music. Now, those are all gone.

So what does it mean? In the Conservatory, my body was ignored, treated as nonexistent. There is certainly a direct correlation between practicing for five hours a day, and having a dysphoric association to one’s body. On top of this, my instructors did nothing to help. It was a sad fact that, although we use our bodies to produce music, our bodies really are ignored in typical institutions of higher musical learning. I took a music theory class with a professor who delved into new scientific research, to suggest that music affects us physically; at the time, this was considered to be groundbreaking and radical. For the most part, we were asked to approach and play music, not with our bodies, but in the most intellectualized, abstract, theoretical parts of our brain we could access. When I was unable to breathe in the way my teachers wanted, they were quick to tell me, repeatedly, that I was doing it wrong. Their attempts to get me to breathe correctly involved complex, abstract theoretical concepts, with no direct application to skill development. They were completely unable to tell me, in concrete, physical terms, what I was supposed to be doing in order actually to breathe correctly. While all of this was going on, my involvement in music was actually making me physically ill, and preventing me from developing my body’s potential.

So, is music inherently bad for our physical health? I don’t believe so. People love music that they can dance to. The very best popular/folk/independent bands move about like crazy when they play. So there must be something wrong with classical music, not in itself, but in the way it is being taught. We use our bodies to make music, and yet traditional music lessons are being taught as if our bodies are not a part of the picture.

So what can we do? Is it best simply to wave goodbye to any truth there might have been in classical music, as we watch it go swirling away into the plumbing like an expired pet goldfish? I believe that this utter death of music instruction can be viewed within the context of the larger set of ailments that are currently gripping the world. Only the most blind would say that everything in the world is fine right now. But rather than being crushed by the state of things, I would like to side with those who meet these challenges with creativity and renewal. I, specifically, am proposing the renewal of music, as it is a vital part of our human existence. I would like to return to a way of producing music that produces, and utilizes, the way I felt while I was running this morning, rather than preventing or suppressing it. As a graduate of the Resonare foundation course in music (http://www.resonare.org/RESONARE__Foundation_Course_of_Music_and_Anthroposophy/Home.html), I feel that I can see the right direction to start out in. As a student of Spacial Dynamics (http://www.spacialdynamics.com/english/), I can see the ways in which our physical bodies MUST be used, in a conscious, awake manner, if we are to play music that has any meaning in it.

My run this morning helped to clarify my mind, and put into words my goal in teaching music lessons. I have been teaching “traditional” lessons for the past twelve years, but now I am opening the doors to students who want to participate in the development of a whole new system of music education. Using concepts gleaned from my own classical training, from my mother, who has spent over thirty years revolutionizing the business of piano teaching, from the Resonare and Spacial Dynamics courses I have been privileged to be a part of, and from my own teaching experience, I am proposing a system that may appear similar to, but will in fact be the opposite of, this death sentence that music has been subjected to in higher institutions. Ultimately, this system will be designed to contribute to, rather than detract from, our physical, emotional, and mental health. It will not be just a derivation of what goes on in conservatories, handed to amateurs who play as a hobby, because instructors know no other way to teach them. This will be for everyone.

So what are you waiting for? I can’t do this alone, and summer is the perfect time to start learning a new instrument. Grab your spouses, children, parents, grandchildren, grandparents, friends, and jump on board! You won’t be disappointed.

March 15, 2010

A fun Leprechaun story for St. Patrick’s Day!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Jenny Sage @ 2:16 am

According to the Waldorf philosophy, children learn best, and retain information most fully, when the content is given to them in a way they can engage with, not just with their head, but with their whole being. That is why it is often referred to as “education for the head, heart, and hands.” Children around the age of 7-12 live particularly in the realm of fantasy, and especially the younger children in that age range relate to everything in the form of pictures and stories. Rather than expounding prolifically on this principle, I give you this fun story that I wrote for my first graders, who really love Leprechauns. You will find the academic lesson that is embedded in the story, and hopefully, you can see how much more fun it is to learn this way, then to be lectured on it in a way that’s pedantic and meaningless.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I hope you enjoy!

How the Leprechauns Learned to Count Their Pots of Gold


Once upon a time, a long time ago, there was a land full of rich, green hills. Far away from the cities full of people, there were whole ranges of hills covered in nice, green grass. Now a few of these hills were hollow. And inside of the hollow places in these hills, there lived whole towns full of very small men, who dressed all in green, so that they would blend in with the green grass of the hillsides. They wanted to blend in, for they didn’t want to be seen. But despite the fact that they were very careful to avoid being noticed, the big people never came as far away as the green men lived. For they lived at the very end of the land, past the end of the rainbow, and no big people had ever found their homes before, unless they had been caught and compelled to take them there. If one of them ever ventured into civilization, he was at risk of being captured; and when he was captured, he had to do what he was told. But they were seldom or never captured, for they were very, very clever. For these little men were Leprauchans.

The Leprechauns loved gold. They loved it so much, that they always went out searching for it, even if that meant they were in danger of being seen and caught by the humans. They would collect all of the gold that they could, and bring pieces back to put into their pots, which they kept in special chambers under the hills that were just meant for hiding pots of gold in.

Now the trouble with Leprauchans, was that they were also tricksters. They could not help playing silly tricks, especially on humans, and sometimes this put them in imminent danger of being caught. But for the most part, they were still so quick, that they still didn’t get caught, and their naughty tricks just confounded the humans on whom they played them.

Among these Leprauchans, there lived a particularly clever one named Paddy O’Conner. Paddy was the perfect model of a tricky, sneaky, impossible-to-catch Leprechaun. He always played the trickiest of tricks whenever he possibly could, and came into more danger of being caught than any other Leprechaun. But because he was so fast and sneaky, he never got caught. The other Leprechauns admired him, and many asked him what secret he had, that he never got captured. But he would never answer. Instead, he would pinch the one who had asked the question, or tweak his nose, and disappear in a twinkling.

As time went by, Paddy began to get bored, because he was so clever, that nothing was thrilling anymore. When he knew that he was too quick to get caught by a human, playing tricks on them lost the element of danger and fun. So he started to play tricks on his fellow Leprechauns. One day, Seamus O’Leary came home to find that somehow, a skunk had made its way into his kitchen. On another day, Finnigan O’Brian woke up to find that he was wearing his shirt on his legs, and his pants on his head. He had socks and shoes on his hands, and when he reached up to his face to undo his pants buttons in order to see, he found that his shoes were kicking him in the face.

Then, the Leprechauns gathered together and decided that no one could possibly be behind these tricks but Paddy O’Conner.

“Paddy O’Conner,” they told him, “you must go. We do not like your tricks. We play tricks on humans, not on each other. You are hereby banished from the Leprechaun clan.”

Paddy hung his head. He had never meant to harm anyone, just to have a little bit of fun. But Finnigan said that his nose still hurt from being hit by his shoes, and Seamus said that his kitchen was so stinky, he could no longer cook in it. So Paddy could do nothing except pack his bags, and sadly leave to go out alone into the wide world. He didn’t take much with him, just a small parcel of his belongings, which he tied to a stick and swung over his shoulder. He left his gold in his gold chamber, thinking that it would be safer there, even if he could never come back.

The first person he met on the road was a milkman, sitting in front of a wagon full of milk bottles. An old horse was pulling the wagon, plodding along slowly, and the milkman was humming softly to himself. Paddy was growing tired, so he jumped into the wagon and fell asleep. It was so comfortable, bumping along gently among the bottles of milk, that he dozed sometimes, and woke sometimes, but never wished to leave. When he got thirsty, he just drank from one of the milk bottles, before sinking back into sleep again. He was so tired, and so sad from having been driven out of his home, that he forgot to be clever and careful, and he forgot to stay awake so that the milkman wouldn’t find him. Imagine his surprise when he was woken up by a rough hand squeezing him, the face of the milkman very close to his, and a gruff voice crying out, “Gotcha!”

Back in the green hills where the Leprechauns lived, everyone was so happy that Paddy had been driven out. They had a party with cupcakes and balloons, to celebrate their freedom from his tiresome trickery. But after some time, life began to grow more and more dull. Something was missing from their green hills, but no one knew quite what. Seamus was even heard to mutter to himself one day, when he thought no one could hear him, that he was getting bored.

But then something happened which  had never happened to the leprechauns before. Clancey McCormick, one of the oldest Leprechauns alive, collected an unprecedented amount of gold. When he brought it back, he found that he had more gold than any other Leprechaun had ever had before. In fact, he had so much gold, that he did not know how to count it, or where to keep it.

To be exact, Clancey had already had nine pots of gold. No Leprechaun had yet ever collected more gold than could be fit into nine pots. For that reason, the chambers in which they kept their gold were simply not big enough to fit more than nine. And, also for the same reason, the Leprechauns, as clever as they were, had never yet bothered to learn how to count any higher than nine. But on this day, Clancey collected enough gold to fill up one more pot. But when he brought it back, and tried to add it to his other nine, and count them up, he found that he simply could not do it. So he sat outside and ripped at his hair and gnashed his teeth and wailed with grief. He simply did not know what to do.

The other Leprechauns came running, but when he told them of his troubles, none of them knew how to help him. Soon, all of the Leprechauns were tearing their hair and gnashing their teeth and wailing with woe.

But then, Finnigan stopped wailing. “I know what we need,” he said, sadly. “We need Paddy O’Conner. He was so clever, he is the only Leprechaun alive who is clever enough to solve this problem. Oh, how sad that we drove him away! Oh, woe is us!”

“Oh, woe is us,” cried all the other Leprechauns, and they began to tear their hair and gnash their teeth with redoubled energy.

But then, what should happen, but a very loud “POOF!” Right near where they were all gathered. They looked up to see a cloud of green smoke just clearing. Out of it appeared none other than Paddy O’Conner, but he was held tightly in the grasp of a mean-looking milkman.

“Oh no,” all the Leprechauns murmured. “Oh, now there is nothing we can do. Paddy has been captured. He was always so very clever, always the least likely to get caught. Fancy him being the one to get captured now!”

No one went to help him, for they knew that it was the law, magical and unchanging, that if a human caught a Leprechaun, then the Leprechaun must take him to the place where he hides his gold. So Paddy had to bring the milkman to his home beneath the hill, where he had departed not so long ago, thinking never to return. He had three pots of gold under there, and he had to give them all up to the milkman. Now the milkman was about to demand that Paddy take him magically back to where they had come from, gold and all, but he did a silly thing. He took his hands off of him, to put them onto the pots of gold. And the moment you let go of a Leprechaun, he is no longer bound to you and can easily escape.

So “POOF!” Paddy disappeared in a puff of green smoke, and so did all of the other Leprechauns. The milkman took the three pots of gold, but he was lost, and so very far away from his own home, that it is doubtful he ever made it back. He tried, but more than likely, he ended up in a new city, far from his own comfortable, country road, and never found out how to return there.

But we don’t really know what happened to the milkman. We do, however, know what happened to Paddy O’Conner. He came out of hiding, and looked shamefacedly at all of the other Leprechauns, who had also come out of hiding as soon as the milkman had left. “I’m sorry,” he said to them. “I had meant to stay away, on my honor, I did. But when a human captures one of us, we have no choice but to bring him back here.”

He was expecting them to come after him and chase him away again. You can imagine his surprise when they ran to him and hugged him, and lifted him up and told him how happy they were to see him again. As quickly as they could, they brought him to the hill where Clancey lived. They showed him how Clancey had nine pots of gold, but then one more again, and explained to him how Clancey neither had room to store it, nor the ability to count it.

“Oh that’s easy,” said paddy, laughing. “We’ll just call it ten. And since your storage space is too small, we’ll have to build a new one. A much, much bigger one. That way, whenever you get another group of ten pots, you can simply put them, altogether, into the larger chamber. We’ll call that chamber the “tens” chamber, and all the things that are put in it don’t have to be counted one by one, but by groups of ten. You see? It’s easy.”

So they built the “tens chamber,” and Paddy showed them how they now had one group of ten in the tens chamber, and zero in the other chamber, which they now called the “ones” chamber, because the items in it were counted by ones. Because Clancey was such an old, clever leprechaun, he soon collected more pots of gold. Soon, he had two pots of gold in his ones chamber; then five; then nine; and finally, yet another ten. But because of how Paddy had instructed him, he knew just how to count it, and just what to do with it. He gathered all ten pots together, and put them into the “tens chamber,” next to the first group of ten pots. “Now,” he said, “I have two groups of ten in my tens chamber, and zero in my ones chamber. How wonderful. I shall go out, and collect some more!”

And that is what he did.

Now Paddy, for his part, lived his life as a transformed Leprechaun. Since losing all his gold, he decided to spend some time collecting more, for what is a Leprechaun without a pot of gold? Never again did he taunt his fellow Leprechauns. And never again did he take the humans for granted; for he had learned from experience that even the most clever Leprechauns can sometimes get caught.

March 3, 2010

Find me on Twitter, or check out my website!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Jenny Sage @ 1:23 am

Want to know more? More information on these programs can be found at  http://www.jennysage.com/

Also check out my twitter, at http://twitter.com/jsagewaldorf

Your homeschooled children will love this program!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Jenny Sage @ 1:16 am

Have you seen my ad in Chronogram’s Education Almanac? Pick one up and check it out.  In case you’re wondering what my program actually is, here is the description from the ad, for your reading enjoyment:

If you are homeschooling your children, you are already thinking independently about their education. You are probably always looking for meaningful ways to enrich their education and their lives. The unique, experiential Waldorf curriculum helps children grow in health and wholeness despite the chaos of modern times. Now, you no longer have to choose between homeschooling, and a Waldorf classroom experience. This new concept in homeschooling instruction is based on the “main lesson,” the heart of the day in a Waldorf class. You design an individualized program by deciding which main lesson blocks your children attend. These 1 1/2 hour sessions include movement activities designed to engage the children’s whole beings and strengthen developing brain functions. Children play instruments, sing, make watercolor paintings, and engage with academic subjects in an imaginative, artistic manner.

Jenny Sage is excited to bring her experience and love of Waldorf education to the Hudson Valley’s homeschool community. A former Waldorf student of 9 years, she holds English and Music degrees from Oberlin College & Conservatory, has been a successful teacher at a Waldorf school, and has held other positions including full time nanny, public school tutor, and music teacher of eleven years.

February 10, 2010

Waldorf Art

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Jenny Sage @ 12:41 am

I’ve just been creating a beautiful, hand-drawn image of a fifth-grade flower geometry pattern. These are some of my favorite art objects ever created in Waldorf schools. Similar to a Mandala, they calm the senses, while enlivening the consciousness and drawing it inward. Curious? Look for this one in my ad, which will come out in the Chronogram’s March publication of it’s Education Almanac.

February 9, 2010

Greetings!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Jenny Sage @ 1:36 am

“Receive the children in reverence, educate them in love, let them go forth in freedom.”

-R. Steiner

Never were truer words spoken. Welcome to my blog.  My journey in education has taken me down so many roads, to so many unexpected and wonderful places; in some ways, this beginning is just a matter of picking it up in the middle. But in other ways, it really is a beginning. After teaching music, tutoring, experiencing Waldorf, Public and Montessori classrooms, and having been a home-schooled and a Waldorf-schooled student myself, it is perhaps the most exciting project of all that I have in the offing.

Perhaps you are a parent researching options for your children. Or perhaps a community member, interested in this new impulse. Perhaps a relative or a friend on the other side of the country or the world, wishing to follow its progress. Whoever you are, I’m grateful for your visit. Stay tuned; it won’t be a boring experience!

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