A Kid Friendly Ostara / Spring Equinox Celebration

Kid Friendly Ostara

It’s officially SPRING!!! I have been feeling so over all the cold weather and grey skies! It’s SO nice to finally feel the air warming up and see the SUN!

This was our first year of celebrating Ostara and I had been SOO looking forward to it! Never heard of Ostara? Then before we get to our family celebration, it’s time for a history lesson!

Ostara is one of the 8 seasonal holidays that make up the “wheel of the year” (but you may know it as the Spring or Vernal Equinox).

The word Ostara is an English evolution of the word Eostre; Eostre was a Germanic goddess of Spring. One myth claims that Eostre once found an injured bird on the ground in late winter. To save it’s life, she changed the bird into a hare but the transformation wasn’t perfect. It looked like a hare, but kept it’s ability to lay eggs! The creature would decorate these eggs and leave them as gifts to Eostre as thanks for saving it’s life.

Other myths associate rabbits and eggs with Ostara as symbols of fertility and re-birth, which is a common theme of Spring: baby animals are being born, trees and flowers begin to bloom, crops/gardens are being planted, etc.

Celebrations of Eostre were held during Eosturmononath, the fourth lunar month (mid-March to Mid-April). Often these celebrations involved the decorating of eggs, egg hunts, and gifts. As Christianity began to spread, many customs that were previously associated with Ostara were combined with and adopted into the Christian holiday “Easter” and it’s easy to see the resemblance and symbolism here (celebrating the rebirth of the Christ seems fitting during the time of year when re-birth is thematic).

The Spring Equinox or Vernal Equinox, when both the northern and southern hemisphere receive equal sunlight (as the earth tilts and the sun begins to bring more daylight to the northern hemisphere), occurs around March 21st each year (in 2019 it is March 20th, in 2020 it will be March 19th). Some earth / nature centric religions (wiccans, neopagans, etc.) observe the equinox as a holiday, others observe the Sabbat Ostara. JudeoChristians observe Passover and Easter around the same time (usually between Ostara and Beltane aka May Day). Regardless, this is a a time of spiritual significance!

Okay, enough history. Back to our celebration!

We started the day with a trip to our local dollar tree. (We go there a lot because it’s like a treasure hunt each time!) I don’t mind getting my seasonal flowers from there and we like to peruse the craft supplies and seasonal decor – which is exactly what we did! We always leave there with waaay too much stuff, because it’s really hard to say no to something that only costs a dollar…

Anyway, I got some things for our seasonal / holiday table (it’s really my personal altar, but I like keeping it decorated for the season or current / recent holiday). K got some sparkly eggs, bunny ears, and a balloon that said Happy Birthday (haha). It made her happy because it was rainbow colored – and it was actually semi-appropriate because my sister in law’s birthday is on the 21st and my mom’s birthday is on the 22nd – even though K wanted to keep it for herself!

We also made a stop at our local herb shop, because K wanted to make a potion to help the plants grow and bring out Spring. I picked up a few things to add to my apothecary closet and K picked out rosebuds and passion flower for her potion.

Once we got home and unloaded everything, we dove right in to potion making!

Potion making is super fun! I love seeing what K will pick out to blend together. She usually picks out really good blends! For her Spring Potion we used: Pink Rosebuds, Passion Flower, Lavender, Chamomile, and Calendula. She ground up each ingredient with our little mortar and pestle and combined it all in a glass bowl that we use specifically for herb blending / potions. Then we added some Rosewater that I’d made from the red roses hubby brought me for Valentine’s Day.

Because I’m a modern gal, we used the microwave to heat up the concoction. 2-3 minutes was plenty! We poured the liquid through a mesh strainer into a clean bowl and then funneled it into a small 2oz. spray bottle and voila! Our Spring Growing Potion was ready!

K wanted to put it to the test immediately so we went outside and sprayed all of our landscape bushes and the beginning shoots of our daylilies with the potion. Of course we had to chant our intentions too – so we firmly, but lovingly, told each plant to “Grow, Plant, Grow”!

After our successful potion mixing time, we spent some time doing new flower arrangements for the fireplace mantle and foyer table. I keep ALL the flowers I ever buy in a giant bag so I let K go through and pick whichever ones she wanted to use to make the arrangement for the table, while I placed white and peach colored lilies in the vase for the mantle.

After that we re-decorated the table and had an indoor egg hunt! We also went to the library and got some Spring themed books, which we are still reading through and likely will renew at least once!

I was also able to take some me-time to be outside and just give thanks for all of the abundance of the season, the gift of life, new opportunities, fresh starts, and everything Spring represents to me personally.

There’s not a lot of information out there for families who want to celebrate and create Ostara traditions together, but I think we managed well enough on our own! If you celebrate Ostara with kids I’d love to hear what you planned!

xo and happy Spring!
–Marissa

Our Super Simple System for Making Sight Words Easy and Fun!

I don’t know about other homeschooling / unschooling families out there but I’ve always been overwhelmed with the idea of trying to teach reading. Letter recognition, letter sounds, those seem easy but piecing that together into reading just seems hard! Especially because the English language has so many weird exceptions, silent letters, words that sound the same but are spelled different, etc.

Luckily for me, my daughter is a SPONGE and soaks up all knowledge. She WANTS to learn and has been starting to ask how things are spelled.

Being an unschooler, I haven’t wanted to push reading before she is ready – but since she’s showing interest in the subject, I’ve taken the opportunity to introduce sight words and work reading into our everyday lives.

I personally think that memorizing sight words can be really really really boring and is a bit too much like public school learning for my liking. Here’s how we use the concept of sight words, but make it fun, and easy too!

First, I looked up a list of sight words that are typically learned at ages 5 – 6. I copied words from the Dolch Sight Words Kindergarten and 1st grade lists (you can also download these as pdfs) onto colored index cards.

Overachiever Confession: I really wanted to color code the parts of speech (noun, verb, adjective, etc.) but didn’t have enough index cards / colors to do this. I figured I’ll update our system once we’re actually ready to cover those concepts. She’s only 5 after all!

I found and purchased a photo album and organized the index cards alphabetically into the pockets. This helps me be able to easily see what words we have to work with and find specific words as needed.

Our Super Simple System for Making Sight Words Easy & FUN! #unschooling #homeschool #kindergarten #myunschoollife
Our Super Simple System for Making Sight Words Easy & FUN! #unschooling #homeschool #kindergarten #myunschoollife
Our Super Simple System for Making Sight Words Easy & FUN! #unschooling #homeschool #kindergarten #myunschoollife

I also bought a few colored magnets at the dollar tree and voila! our sight word system was complete!

We choose 8 words to work with at a time. K likes to be involved and pick out her words, so I let her choose 4 words and I choose the other 4. Typically I choose words that can be used to make  multiple short sentences or phrases.

Using sight words with actual context seems to really help K learn them! Plus she likes to rearrange the words to see what sentences she can come up with. This provides us with opportunities to discuss sentence structure and verb tense too!

Our Super Simple System for Making Sight Words Easy & FUN! #unschooling #homeschool #kindergarten #myunschoollife

While the concept of “sight words” is generally to know the word “on sight”, we initially work on sounding out the words, rather than straight memorization. The “on sight” part comes when I ask her to point to specific words – which I don’t really do daily… it’s pretty random, because well…unschooling. 😉

I plan to start writing the date next to each sight word as we learn/ review them so I can see and remember the last time we worked with a specific word. I’ll likely do this in pencil so I can erase / re-write as we add new words in.

So there you have it! Our super simple system for making sight words easy and fun! How do you approach reading / sight words at home? Tell me in a comment!

xo,
Marissa

Our Current Amazon Crushes: ASD/SPD Friendly Products, Unschooling Resources, and Home Organization


We are an Amazon Prime loving family. I mean you just can’t beat free 2 day delivery, basically anything you could ever want to buy, and bargain hunting! As an unschooling family, we find lots of educational goodies on Amazon. As a mom, I’m also always looking for things that make my life easier. Aaaaand I buy myself the occasional “treat” or two as well.

We tend to batch buy things about once a month, after “crushing on” it for a while. Here are some of our favorite purchases so far this year

THINGS FOR K:

Kids Bluetooth Wireless Headband / Sleep Mask
K’s SPD often amps up at bedtime, when every little noise is heightened. She’s consistently bothered by small house noises, the threat of thunderstorms, trucks going by on the road, the threat of smoke detectors going off (which they recently randomly did for no reason at all. Checked the batteries, they were fine.), etc. etc. She tried using her hardshell noise blocking ear muffs but those are, as you can imagine, incredibly uncomfortable to sleep in. So off to Amazon I went and found this gem! It’s a soft headband that covers the ears and can cover the eyes too – that has bluetooth wireless capability! SCORE! We linked this to her “music box” tablet (old tablet repurposed to just play music in her bedroom) and she loves it! The addition of the music helps block more noise, it’s soft and comfy, AND it helps block out unwanted lights. This has really helped her settle down and get to sleep faster!

Assorted Tumbled Rocks
This product is a GREAT price for the amount of rock chips you get. These are NOT large tumbled stones, but rather small 1cm ish chips. They would be good for decorating projects, art projects, math manipulatives, etc. We use them to represent the things we are thankful for each night and collect them in our “Thankful Jar”. This also gives us a daily opportunity to work on identification of each rock. While they are small, you should still be able to easily identify each of them, as the assortment seems to contain several of the most popular stones. I.E clear quartz, amethyst, lapis lazuli, citrine, carnelian, etc.

Rock on! Geology Game
Since we have been using the assorted rock chips for our thankful jar, K has wanted to know what each one is and has been getting very interested in various gems/stones. And like I said above, we’ve been working on identifying the ones in the assorted batch we purchased. But sometimes we find one that I don’t know what it is – or can’t remember. We’ll look it up of course, but I bought this game so that we can work on even more rock identification in an even more fun way! I’m hoping it will help me finally recall the name of that weird light pastel green rock K loves (haha).

Piano for Kids
As I mentioned in our recent Unschool Life Update, K has been working on learning basic piano. She got a keyboard for her birthday in February. I did a LOT of research on various kids piano books and this one really seemed to take the cake! I’ve been really happy with it so far! It’s easy to understand and progresses nicely. It teaches correct finger position and two-handed play from the very beginning. But above all, it makes practicing FUN!

Spanish/English Storybooks
My husband and I both speak Spanish as a second language. I actually currently teach Spanish for our homeschool co-op – it was my minor in college. Hubby has family that are native Hispanic. So one of the things we really have wanted to teach K is Spanish, from a young age. Language learning is much much easier for young kids than it is for older teens and adults, unless they just have an affinity for languages. K LOVES learning new Spanish words and actually uses them appropriately. One of the ways we include Spanish in our unschooling life is to read bilingual books together. The below books are some that we LOVE! Notice that The Story of Ferdinand has a separate book for the English version and a separate book for the Spanish version. We actually like having two copies of books like this because then one of us can read the Spanish version and the other can read the English version – so both parents can be involved in storytime!

CONFESSION: Hubby and I often battle over who gets to read the Spanish version, because we BOTH want to!

Goldilocks and the 3 bears (Spanish / English)

The Story of Ferdinand (Spanish)

The Story of Ferdinand (English)

Goodnight Moon (Spanish / English) 

Things for me:

The Complete Medicinal Herbal 
One of my 5 year goals is to obtain an herbalist certification. I’m looking into and planning to participate in a reputable course as soon as I can work it into the budget. But since we’re also trying to finish up a million home improvement projects to get our home ready to sell, enrolling in an herbalism course is going to have to wait awhile. So in the meantime, I’m self-studying and working with herbs on my own.  This book is one of my favorites so far! I’ve bought a couple others from half-price books but they haven’t arrived yet….

Adjustable Book / Tablet Stand
I really bought this for K to use as a music stand when she’s practicing keyboard, but I’m definitely going to be using it too. No more flat tablet on the countertop when looking up a recipe. No more flat textbooks when I’m studying! The stand easily folds flat and has several adjustments for various viewing angles. It’s made of a study thick plastic that doesn’t feel cheap!

Leaf Shaped Ceramic Mini-Dishes
As I’ve mentioned, I’m getting into herbalism and as part of that I’ve been making our own incense recently. I actually prefer to use loose incense on these Starlight Charcoal Rounds, so I had to search for little bowls or plates for burning the incense. I wanted something with a depth so we could layer sand, charcoal, incense. These cute little dishes, which are technically appetizer or sauce dishes, caught my eye! I love that they are leaf shaped and so kind of go with the whole herbal vibe and they come in 4 lovely colors! Great price and quality.

Dymo Label Maker
Since I am a serial craft supplies collector… I mean you never know when you’re going to need 50 buttons for some art project and as unschoolers our supply of cardstock, stickers, white paper, paint, crayons, etc. must be stocked at all times! So much art and crafting happens in our house – SO. MUCH.

The problem is that my house has very little storage space. And craft supplies have traditionally been stored all over the house. Some in my closet, some in K’s closet, some in the office, etc. They haven’t had one collective “home” since we’ve lived here. Part of that is the lack of storage space and part of that has been my lack of organization because it’s really really daunting to organize as much art/craft stuff as I have.

However, since we’re preparing to move and since I’ve grown more and more fond of a minimalist-ish lifestyle – I’ve been facing the organizational problem head on. The first thing I did was to purchase a bunch of plastic food containers from the dollar tree. The second thing I did was to purchase this label maker form Amazon. BEST PURCHASE OF MY LIFE.

I’m nowhere near done with my craft supply organization project, but we now have stickers, crayons, colored pencils, glues/tapes, watercolor paints, paintbrushes and sponges, etc. all in their own labelled storage containers. The containers make it super easy to pull out the desired supplies and put back all nice and neat with the lid secured so things don’t get spilled or mixed up. The labels make it super easy to quickly visualize what is in each container.

Since doing this, hubby can now get K set up with paint supplies quickly and easily -because he can actually FIND them now. Whereas before I was the only one who knew where x,y, z supplies were hidden.

I’ve also been able to use my handy dandy label maker to organize all my new herbs into my apothecary closet! What was once a ragtag assortment of bagged/jarred herbs is now nicely and neatly arranged and labelled so I don’t have to go digging through a box to find what I need!

i know I know, this all sounds like basic organization 101, and it is. But for me, someone who is busy and just hasn’t made the time (up til now) to organize, this has been life changing!

Clothing Organizer Bags
One of my other organizational projects has been to clean out and tidy up our walk-in closet. Which isn’t exactly the most well designed closet in the world. While it’s technically a “walk-in”, it has weird angles and hard to reach places. And there’s shelving that was added that just doesn’t make sense… it’s been kind of a trainwreck.

I finally decided enough was enough and ordered these clothing organizer bags, which stack up nicely once they’ve been filled with folded clothes. I’m using them to store our out of season clothes and some of my husband’s more formal button up shirts, that he doesn’t wear very often but still needs to keep in case he has a face to face work meeting or has to travel for a business thing.

These have freed up a lot of space in the closet and keep clothes from being shoved to the back of the closet where they just get forgotten about. When not in use, they fold flat and take up very little space.

Makeup Train Case
Still on the topic of organization… I have been struggling with my makeup storage for years! At first I simply tossed everything into a makeup bag, but caps and lids would come off and everything would get coated in sticky eyeliner goo or silver eyeshadow powder, etc. So then I bought a countertop organizer that’s clear and has various compartments/holders for brushes etc. But even though I’ve drastically reduced the number of eyeshadows and lipsticks I own, I still have too many makeup items to store neatly in even two organizers.

So I finally gave in and purchased a dedicated makeup case, with dividers and shelves and a brush holder, and a mirror too! I haven’t actually gotten this in the mail yet – it should be here this week, but I’m super excited to 1) get all the makeup off the bathroom counter and clear up some visual space and 2) not have to lump everything together into one catch-all bag. Plus the case I bought is super stylish 😉

So there you have it! Our family’s favorite Amazon finds from February/March!
Affiliate Disclosure: If you see something you like from our list, we do receive a small commission from Amazon if you purchase from our links – but this is at no cost to you!!

xo,
Marissa