10 Tips for Enjoying the Holiday Faire

Holiday Faire EntertainmentThe Meadowbrook Waldorf School Holiday Faire is an event not to be missed and is one that my family has looked forward to every year since we discovered it three years ago. Over time, we have learned a few tips and tricks to make the day more enjoyable and relaxing, especially with young children.

1. Arrive Early to the Holiday Faire

Parking is available in the school lot and next door at the antique barn, which is a 5-minute walk to the Faire entrance. A shuttle to and from the school is also available.

By afternoon, the lots will be quite full. If you have restless small children who will need an afternoon nap, try to arrive close to when the Faire opens at 10 am.

2. Plan your time at the Holiday Faire

Waldorf Preschool Puppet Show

There are so many things to see and do! If you plan to make your own beeswax candles, then start with this craft (more on this later).

The puppet show is delightful for adults and absolutely mesmerizing for the little ones. Scope out the show time you’d like upon your arrival so you can manage your shopping and craft-making around it.

If you have never participated in a drum circle, now is a great time to try it.  Simply sit and join in when a seat is vacated. There are also performances by the Ladies of the Rolling Pin and carolers that add to the festivities of the day; if you can catch them, it’s well worth it.

3. Spend the entire day at the Holiday Faire

Waldorf School Holiday Faire Drum Circle

It’s not that you can’t just pop in for an hour or two, but you won’t be able to experience all the Holiday Faire has to offer in a short amount of time. Some crafts are time-consuming (See Candle Dipping) and the general vibe is one that invites taking it all in without having to worry about racing out early. Three hours would probably cover it, though we personally make a whole day of it.

4. Get Around the Holiday Faire Easily with Baby

I highly recommend leaving the stroller in the car and carrying a small baby or toddler in a comfortable carrier. The hallways can get crowded at times, and the store has narrow aisles. Tuck a diaper and wipes in your bag or pocket to save a trip back to the car. There is one bathroom equipped with a changing table near the children’s crafts room.

5. Plan to start your beeswax candle dipping first.

If you plan to make your own hand-dipped beeswax candle, you may want to start that as soon as you arrive so that you can work on it throughout the day. This craft requires adding layers of wax and then waiting for each layer to cool before dipping again. Depending on the size candle you are aiming for (candles are paid for by weight), the process could take anywhere from 2 hours to all day. This is a great activity, as you’ll get to enjoy the candle with each dinner over the winter months.

6. Visit the Crystal Cave (Formerly known as the Gnome Cave)

Be sure to visit the Crystal Cave either right before or immediately after you begin the candle dipping craft. It is truly magical and not to be missed. The Crystal Cave often has long lines, particularly when the puppet show is over.

7. Make Time for Crafts

There are several crafts available for a range of skill levels. Most are suitable for young children. If you carved out the whole day, you’ll be able to get creative in the crafting rooms at a gentle pace. If you only have a little time, scope out the craft options and pick the one or two that most appeal to you.

8. Shop at the Holiday Faire Store

Waldorf Holiday Faire StoreMy best tip for visiting the beautiful school store on Sunday is to bring another adult. When it’s time to sit down and rest and give your smallest Faire enthusiasts a snack, one person can stay with them while the other sneaks away to the centrally-located market for a bit of shopping.  Of course, if you want to do some Holiday shopping without the children at all then I highly recommend going the night before to the adults only Holiday Faire event where you could enter to win a $25 gift certificate to spend at the store.

Don’t miss the used book room for lots of great reads at an even greater bargain.

9. Enjoy the Playroom

Waldorf preschool classroomNew this year is the playroom, which will offer the chance for your little ones to interact in a preschool/kindergarten or Early Childhood classroom. If you are interested in seeing what a typical day in the preschool or kindergarten program looks like and would like to speak with a staff member who can answer your questions about Waldorf education, inquire about the playroom when you arrive.

10. Peek into the Practical Arts

Waldorf handwork loom

Handwork is an essential element of a Waldorf education, and the practical art teachers will display a bit of what they do in one of the classrooms. Handwork is done in the classroom in a quiet and peaceful environment, and so it follows that this is often a quiet activity. We happened into this room unexpectedly last year and it was an welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the Faire.  While our son and niece happily weaved on a natural loom made of tree branches, we enjoyed a pleasant conversation with the lovely handwork teacher.

Finally, just take it all in.

Waldorf School Play Equipment OutdoorsIf you have never visited a Waldorf school before, be sure to spend some time enjoying the play areas outside. You’ll find gardens, climbing equipment, and rope swings, as well as many obstacles and forts that the children have built during their school days.

The essence of the school is evident from the moment you arrive. Every element is purposely chosen and intended to surround the children with beauty. The entire Faire is created and held by the parents working together. It is a testament to the sense of community that is built within the school. If you pay attention, you’ll feel the love that permeates every nuance of the school and the Faire. It is a magical event, not just for the children, but for everyone who comes and enjoys this special welcoming of the Holiday Season.

Have a wonderful time at Meadowbrook Waldorf School Holiday Faire!

mws faire logo

Come join in the festivities at the Meadowbrook Waldorf School Holiday Faire. Saturday, November 23rd from 6-9 PM (Adults’ Night)
Sunday, November 24th from 10-4 (Family Day) 

 

Kids Crafts, Not Just For Kids

Contributed by Kyle MacDonald Stolaroff

“Piece of cake,” I thought to myself last year when I signed up to help out with Kids Crafts for the Holiday Faire, after all, I am an artist by trade.  I went to the first volunteer training and to my dismay discovered that one of the four craft projects chosen was Origami, “The Eight Pointed Transforming Star” to be exact.  I felt a knot in my stomach as childhood memories of failed geometry tests and incomprehensible Origami instructions filled my head.

As a group, we watched a YouTube video, which described in detail how to create the Transforming Star.  At the end, I timidly raised my hand and asked if anyone else thought that this was too difficult for the kids.  I was assured that this project was targeted for the “older” kids and teens, who sometimes felt that the Kids Crafts weren’t for them.

Mike B., one of the other volunteers, very casually began to fold the paper in front of him, and in less than 2 minutes flat, had created the first, perfectly executed, example for the rest of us to follow.  “This guy must be a Rocket Scientist,” I thought to myself as I looked down at the torn and crumpled papers hidden in my lap.  After what seemed like an agonizing hour of folding and refolding, I had completed my first star. I knew that I would be ok as long as I was assigned to the room with the beautiful bamboo trays, decoupage votives, or adorable handmade dolls.

Holiday Faire 232The morning of the Faire, I was relieved to find myself at the doll table, across the room from Origami.  Intrigued, I watched all day from afar as kids as young as six easily and joyfully made Transforming Stars. The look of excitement and wonder on their faces as they opened and closed their beautiful paper stars was priceless.  The kids’ enthusiasm and willingness to try something new inspired me.  As the day wore on, I felt emboldened to try again.  I went over to sit with my friend Mike B.  With his patient guidance and my newly cultivated beginners mind, I started to fold.  To my surprise and delight, I completed a lovely Eight Pointed Transforming Star in less than 2 minutes flat!  Whether you are a kid, big or small, or an adult who likes to be challenged, enchanted and surprised, Kids Crafts is a wonderful experience for all.

Come join in the festivities at the

Meadowbrook Waldorf School Holiday Faire.

Saturday, November 23rd from 6-9 PM (Adults’ Night)

Sunday, November 24th from 10-4 (Family Day) 

mws faire logo

 

Meeting Waldorf at the Circus.

As development coordinator for Meadowbrook, I was asked by a reporter why our school promotes Circus Smirkus.  On camera, a 30 second sound bite -  where to start!  Sure, from a development stand point it is a fundraiser but for me as a Waldorf parent this event has a value far beyond dollars and cents.  How to explain it?

An usher at a show attended by 107 day campers from Burrillville, RI shared some comments made by a group of young boys.  ”I could do that,” they assured each other as they watched some of the opening tricks.  A little further into the show there was an exclamation – “I couldn’t even do that!”; though someone else thought his dad could.  It didn’t take long for them to realize they were no match for the trained and talented Smirkos (as the troupers call themselves).  By the end of the show all the boys were in agreement – “I want to learn to do that!”  Artistic director Troy Wunderle writes in the playbill that, “In addition to talent, [Circus Smirkus] programs strive to cultivate focused individuals with sturdy minds, solid work ethics, positive attitudes and humble hearts”.  Who doesn’t want that for their child?  As a parent I know that no-one inspires a child in the way another child can, for better or for worse!  The passionate, hard working, joyful Smirkos are a gift to everyone engaged with growing children.

Circus Smirkus has no animals, it doesn’t boast spectacular effects or extravagant sets.  It does have a highly professional and dedicated crew who produce extremely high quality, theme driven shows.  This meshes well with the Waldorf love of story, expressive movement and meaningful use of color and live music.  The success of each show depends on the skill and showmanship of the performers.  As physically demanding as any competitive sport, circus requires the highest levels of teamwork with performers literally putting their lives in each others’ hands as they hang and balance high above the ring.  In this youth circus as in Waldorf education relationships are built by facing challenges together, by following through with tasks and responsibilities – doing the chores behind the scenes as well as the fun stuff in the limelight.

Three of the 29 troupers this year are Waldorf students, a high proportion when compared to the number of Waldorf students in the general population.  This finding is consistent with past tours so I asked Sara Wunderle the assistant operations director if there were any qualities that made Waldorf students particularly well suited to joining the circus.  She said, “Smirkus loves Waldorf kids.  They are well rounded and fit in easily socially”.  As she looked for a word to define how Waldorf kids typically tackle the demands of circus life I suggested ‘independence’ but the difference was something else.  Finally she chose the word ‘competence’.  A well developed sense of self that helps the individual to meet anything that needs doing with a grounded, ‘can do’ matter-of-factness.  They can be relied upon to get the job done.  She also said that the Waldorf troupers out perform in the Smirkus ring and all continue to excel after graduating, be it at other circuses or some quite different career.

It’s great fun to be part of this event.  Many members of our school community volunteer their time and effort to help with the logistics of presenting Circus Smirkus in Rhode Island.  We also provide the hospitality of our homes to the performers, making friends and hearing their stories – they really are a great bunch of kids!  My family was thrilled to see our home-stay troupers again from last year.  Over two days of shows we also see thousands of new faces.  The circus is an opportunity to meet people from other walks of life, to partner with local businesses and share our values with hundreds of local families.  As a parent at the school, I am proud that we make this wonderful event available to our neighbors.  As a parent at home, I am delighted to see my children caught up in happy circus imaginings, inspired to practice some of the skills they’ve seen and full of the joyous possibilities of life.

Smirkos back stage

I would love to hear your comments on all things circus, Smirkus and what events like these mean to you!

 

Kindergarten Comes to Casey Farm

Jane Francis, or Miss Jane as she in known to the children of Primrose class wrote this piece about her experience taking Meadowbrook into the community with Kim Eccleston, who Miss Kim of the  Morning Glory early childhood class.
Meadowbrook Waldorf kindergarten made some new friends at the farmers market recently.  I wonder if you saw us at Casey Farm and came over to our “tent” to say hello?

Many young children brought their parents in to play in the “kitchen” or under the silk “roof”; to take care of our beautiful dolls or just relax in the big bean bag chair.  We had boys and girls cooking up delicious meals at the stove , working hard –all around the market – with the wooden wheelbarrow, setting up scenes with  our wooden animals and people; some were sailing away on the rocking board or setting up house, complete with bunk beds.

Everyone played so well together –  a lovely morning had by all.

In the middle of the morning we even had time for a puppet show.  Everyone sat and relaxed while Kim enchanted us with a tale of a very wise little girl (Mashenka) who made a plan to get back to her loving home, when a large bear had other ideas!

We talked to parents about the type of kindergarten experience they want for their young children:  warm teachers, safe atmosphere, plenty of time outside, good food, imaginative and creative play. All in all a good foundation for the academic work of the grade school.  Others were interested in our School Fairs and in the handwork groups for adults – knitting, felting and doll making seemed to be favorites.  Others wanted to know if we have a summer camp (we do!).

We were inspired by all the interest and questions.  Many thanks to Bevan Linsley, the Coastal Growers’ Market and Casey Farm for hosting us, we hope to return soon.