One of my favourite aspects of Waldorf Education and something I think can be so deeply and wholly honoured in homeschooling, is the immersion in a particular topic. As homeschoolers, we have the benefit to permeate our ‘immersion’ topics into so many aspects of not only our schooling, but our everyday and family life.
The last story of our first Grade 1 block (which was of course Form Drawing) was from the Earthschooling curriculum – ‘Moon Flower’. We used this story for bringing the form of a circle to life and the opportunity presented amongst the theme of not only this story, but also the continual story of a family’s journey that carries us through our year – to immerse in the Japanese culture. The story of Moonbeam is a traditional Japanese Tale. It is a gentle, sweet and inspiring story.
I am using a ‘base’ or ‘foundational’ story through the year of a family that is on a journey together. Through this journey, many opportunities and experiences arise that ‘meet’ the little girl ‘Anna’ in our ‘family’ with her lessons for the year. This ‘base’ story idea comes from the Waldorf Essentials curriculum and I also think it is mentioned in Eric Fairman’s Grade guide. As we approached the tale of Moonbeam, our ‘family’ met a Japanese Lady. The children enjoyed talking to her about the culture, what foods she liked and used to cook with her mother as a child, as well as the lady’s name and the meaning/origin of her name. ‘Sakura’, the lady our ‘family’ ‘met’, told the ‘family’ the story of Moonbeam, as it was one of her favourite stories when she was younger.
Following on from this part of our Form Drawing for circles, we concluded this first Grade 1 block with what I like to call an ‘immersion’ – really diving deeply into a topic or theme and having it permeate as much of our daily/family life as is possible. On Saturday morning, Chilli and I went shopping together – just a Mumma and Daughter shopping adventure. We purchased the ingredients we needed to cook a special ‘Japanese Feast’. That afternoon we set about preparing the foods we needed to bring together the Japanese Fare that Sakura had mentioned were her favourite meals when she was younger. It was nice that Sakura had reminisced about cooking these dishes with her mother when she was younger – as Chilli and I were now cooking them together! During our cooking and dining time, we listened to a beautiful collection of Traditional Japanese Music. Amidst our cooking and preparing, Chilli also relished in the opportunity to get out her cuisenaire rods to work out certain measurements along the way.
The dishes we made were; Yudofu, Tempura with sweet rice, Anko to put into Dorayaki for dessert and then of course Green Tea. We found a really wonderful Japanese Cooking site with handy videos and clear instructions. The green tea was actually a gift from a Japanese friend who visited and stayed with us last year. It was in a really sweet little metal tin with the gorgeous Japanese paper labels and fancy Japanese writing that many special Japanese products have. I often think that certain Japanese products look so pretty the way they are presented. Whenever we receive a gift from our Japanese friend, it comes wrapped in the most gorgeous natural packaging and then gift wrapped by the store it was purchased in. Everything is mindful and beautiful.
Chilli delighted in going about setting up her very own ‘Japanese Restaurant’ to serve Daddy and Marlin in for dinner that evening. We set the table together, made a menu board and then Chilli put on her ballet ‘Character Shoes’ as her ‘high heels’ because “All waitress’ in restaurants always have high heels on Mummy!” We chose our Japanese names for the evening (we actually just used the two lady’s names from the Japanese Cooking 101 videos!), lit the candle, and invited our guests to dine. Our guests came dressed very well to the restaurant as well!
The next day we ventured out to our favourite Tea House! (Any excuse – I know!) This time there was guidelines around what we could order – we were there for tea, and this in my opinion is the best place in Hobart to go for tea. The tea menu is extensive without being exhausting. Mathew and Shae know their tea – that’s for sure and they’ve recently put together a retail range of teas, so we were eager to try some of these. Between us we selected 4 of their different teas, and conveniently Shae had made a Matcha Cashew Cream Cake for the sweets that day – so of course we had to try a piece of that! It was all delicious.
Following on from our tea adventure, we went on to another of our favourite Hobart destinations – The Japanese Gardens in the Royal Hobart Botanical Gardens. At any time of year this space within the Botanical Gardens is breathtaking, and this Summertime trip was no exception.