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Posts Tagged ‘Play Altar’

Bee shows a greater interest in what I do, and she loves to honor nature outside and inside at her nature table / play altar. The one thing she was missing was a representation of fire – one of the Three Hallows in my Druidic tradition, and an important part of any Celtic spirituality.  I’ve thought about different ways to create an appropriate representation, and when I thought of this Imbolc activity, I realized that it was exactly what she was missing!  Furthermore, it’s a great way to reuse old wine corks!
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Materials:

  • old corks (the hole from the corkscrew will actually come into play later!)
  • paint (I used washable, toddler-safe paint)
  • paintbrushes
  • orange and yellow yarn or other fire-colored fibers
  • a glue gun
  • a tapestry needle or something else that you can use to poke the fibers into the corkscrew hole

 

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The Toddler Part:

Equipped with an apron and seated on our large splash mat, Bee was able to paint her cork. My husband and I joined her to paint two others, making this a fun family activity. I let her choose her color – orange! How firery.

Because we used washable paint, it was very thin.  We had to let the corks dry between a couple coats, and we had to put the paint on rather thick.  That’s ok, though, as it looks like wax dripping down the sides of the candles!  I’m thinking about sealing them with a glaze later on.

 

20160117-210549.jpg The Parent Part:

Once the corks dried, I cut orange and yellow yarn into very short lengths – about an inch, but I could have gone smaller.  I separated the fibers to give the an airy look, then twisted them together loosely.  Pinch the bottoms tightly and roll them between your fingers to join the fibers.  Put a dot of hot glue into the corkscrew hole.  Using a dull tapestry needle (or other similar object), push the bottom of the fibers into the hole and glue.  Voilà!  Flaming candles!  

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An acorn and pinecone treasure basket I put together for Bee. She enjoys exploring them with her magnifying glass. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015

An acorn and pinecone treasure basket I put together for Bee. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015

 

I’ve already written a bit about treasure baskets in the past.  Now that Bee is older, they’re becoming even more fun!  Currently, she has a basket of different pinecones and acorns on her “play altar” / “nature table.”  It’s been a great way for her to explore some of Mother Nature’s diversity.  It’s an open-ended way to explore and play.  She sometimes sorts them by type or size.  Once she used them to make imprints in play dough.

One thing that I like about this particular treasure basket is that it’s very seasonal, and Bee has been able to add to it whenever we’re out on our walks.  She gets really excited when she finds new acorns, acorn caps, and cones. I ask her if she’d like to take one to her nature table.  This activity shows her that she has choice and that her opinions matter to me.  We also say “thank you” to the Earth Mother and trees whenever we bring a new friend inside.  Of course, it’s also added to her vocabulary!

Knowing your child is definitely important when it comes to making new treasure baskets.  Bee is past the age of putting random things in her mouth.  We’ve had many discussions about what is and isn’t food.  (We’ll save the fact that many of our ancestors used ground acorns and pine nuts in meals for another day…)  For the last few months, she’s demonstrated an understanding that only food should go in her mouth.  Her last treasure basket was filled with different shells, and we introduced some smaller specimens towards the end.  Last year, I wasn’t able to let her play with anything small enough to fit through a toilet paper tube.  It’s amazing how quickly little ones learn!

I’m planning to retire the pinecone and acorn treasure basket for a bit (I’ll bring them out again in the future), so I’m excitedly thinking about what the next basket will be!

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Spring Equinox gnomes!  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Spring Equinox gnomes! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

With spring right right around the corner, I thought it was time to make Bee another gnome! I decided to make a tutorial so you could make your own gnomes for the little ones in your life.  Follow along or get creative and follow your own whimsy!

Materials for the gnomes.    I use wool roving to stuff my baby toys.  You can also find wool felt.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Materials for the gnomes. I use wool roving to stuff my baby toys. You can also find wool felt. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Materials:

gnomepattern

  • Grey Catsidhe’s gnome pattern
  • felt in the desired color
  • batting
  • thread or embroidery floss
  • scissors
  • a sewing needle

The pattern may be enlarged, and should be for a baby.  I make mine so that they are small but not a choking hazard. Using the pattern, cut out the shapes in your felt.  You’ll want to cut out one face and two bodies.  At this point, I find it best to stitch on the face and add any desired details to one side of the body.  You can be as simple or complex as you wish.  I decided to make this gnome very girlish and even gave her some hair.

Stitching on the face to one side first. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Stitching on the face to one side first. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Starting at the base, stitch from bottom, to the top, and back to the bottom using the blanket stitch.  Leave the bottom opened so that you can stuff the batting in before completing the blanket stitch all the way around.

As a finishing touch, I added a little leaf to the top of the gnome’s hat.  I think it makes the Spring gnome look like a little seedling. Make sure you stitch that leaf very secure!  As with all baby toys, inspect your gnomes frequently to make sure nothing is coming apart.  My baby loves to gums her gnomes so they can get a bit worn looking.  They are very easy to clean with some soap and water.  Air dry, preferably in the sun.

Have fun making gnomes for wee ones or your own altars!  Please share any that you make!  I’d love to see.

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Treasure_bascket2

Have you ever heard of treasure baskets?  They are a simple, wonderful, and magical idea for play.  They are a large part of Montessori philosophy which embraces heuristic play.  Here’s a great introduction to the concept, including suggestions.

I was inspired to make a treasure basket all about Druidism.    Traditionally, treasure baskets are wide, rounded, and low for easy access, but I’m using a rectangular basket with a lid because it wasn’t being used for anything else.  This Druidism treasure basket is very basic and as baby-friendly as possible right now while still avoiding plastics.  Bee is only just starting to grasp and manipulate objects with her hands. She’s all about exploring with her mouth so things have to be safe*.  The basket will grow and change as she does.  Some of the items will likely move to a Waldorf concept – the nature table / play altar**!

 

Current Contents: 

  • A paper skull for the ancestors.
  • A fleece pink heart for the beloved dead (currently a favorite item).
  • An extra Druid Animal Oracle card I had laying around for Nature Spirits, divination, and water since it depicts a seal.
  • A wool ball I felted to symbolize Nature spirits and Brighid (sheep).  It could also be a cloud for sky.
  • A large seashell to represent the sea, Manannan, and the  Nature spirits.
  • A poof of yellow and orange mesh fabric to represent fire, sky, Brighid, and the Shining Ones in general.

In the Works:

  • A general Goddess and God doll to represent the divine (duotheistic, I know, but I don’t want to be too prescriptive with her).  Each will be made of a different texture to keep things interesting!
  • A wooden teething tree.  Her papa is responsible for this project!
  • More treasure baskets!  I plan to make/update one for each High Day!  A Winter Solstice basket is already in progress.

 

* She will always be under supervision when playing with her treasure baskets.  I feel nervous putting a shell in the mix, but it’s been cleaned and is too big for swallowing.  So far, she just likes to look at it.

** Stay tuned as I explore and build a play altar with Bee!

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