Our study of Fall/Autumn came to a crescendo with our Autumn Party! Instead of focusing on the traditional holiday of Halloween, we learned about the origin of Halloween and the celebration of Samhain (pronounced SOW-in). It all began as a Gaelic/Celtic holiday in modern day Ireland...
We began our day around our community bonfire with an introduction of Samhain and where it was located on our globe. Back when Samhain was celebrated the villages and towns would come together around one huge bonfire! They believed this fire would cleanse them and protect them in the oncoming cold winter months. This holiday also fell during what they believed as a liminal time - when the Otherworld would cross over into the real world meaning fairies and spirits would be flying around. They would leave food and trinkets out for these fairies so that they would protect their families and livestock over the winter.
The kiddos and I sat around our fire warming our fingers and our toes. We learned about another country, their past traditions, and guessed where Halloween came from. One particular answer was "The Zoos!" from our friend T. The kiddos were intrigued with our globe which led to discovering other countries around the world. Of course we had to find our own state (or as close to it as possible), too! :-)
*Mask Making Invitation*
During Samhain and the liminal time, good fairies and bad fairies were believed to be around. The bad spirits would play tricks on the villagers so in order to fool them they would create masks and disguises!
Inspired by this tradition, we dressed up in our costumes and made our own unique masks to wear. As usual, this activity led to some interesting dialogue.
"I'm making a rainbow chin! And three cheeks on each side!" - T
F was having trouble with the glue bottle and Mrs. Tory encouraged him saying that gravity would help if he held it upside down. F replied, "Gravity pulls you down!"
"Where do feathers come from?" asked T.
"Hawks" - replied F
"Birds, parrots, toucans!" - T
In addition to the bonfires, back in Ireland the villagers would also make individual torches. We decided to take our own spin on the torch and create uniquely decorated imaginary torches! The kiddos punched and stamped using warm colors of fire to add some *spark* to their torches.
"My torch looks like a telescope!" - T
"I cut this in two halves!" - T
Our friend T became obsessed with cutting the smallest shapes physically possible. (You can see him proudly showing off one of his products in the slideshow!) While splitting a half circle into two he said, "I made two little quarters!" We have some pretty smart kiddos!
F needed some help using the punchers. I asked him what he could do about his problem. He turned to his friend T and asked if he would help him. T jumped at the opportunity to show off his puncher skills! The last three photos in our slideshow are of these two friends helping each other. First, T showed F how to work the punchers and where to put the paper. Then F felt confident to try it on his own. Lo and behold, it worked! If we ever have a problem or feel like we can't do something, we can ALWAYS ask our friends for help!
*Adding Fire to Our Torches*
The villagers would use their torches to take some of the community bonfire home with them. This would keep their homes warm and unite the community together.
After finishing decorating our torches, we sat around our bonfire once more. We then added the same fire as our big bonfire to our individual torches. Tearing and taping tissue paper onto the inside of our paper towel rolls brought us all together again. Everyone was helping each other rip off tape and holding torches in place. A simple process emboldened our sense of community and family while exercising our fine motor skills and exploring a different texture. Each kiddo took their torch with them to light their way and keep their homes/rooms warm. (They also make great dancing props!) :-)
Not only did Samhain include bonfires and costumes, it also included feasting! The kiddos helped set our table and pass the special snacks. Our wonderful families brought in delicious treats for us to share and enjoy. Chocolate cupcakes were a HUGE HIT and ignited a HUGE sugar rush! :-) Our kiddos loved showing off their black and orange moustaches for the camera!
*Ghost Story & Painting Invitation*
A bonfire wouldn't be complete without ghost stories! Using special sparkly paint, our friends created their own ghosts with their own stories. We had friendly ghosts, crazy ghosts, and floating ghosts!
*Potion and Spell Invitation*
Our Monday group specifically asked for potions and potions they received! EG went outside to gather natural materials for her potions and to add to our collection of bats, spiders, pumpkins, glitter, and changing colors. We used a variety of glass bottles along with two large cauldrons to make our potions. This proved to be the perfect practice of our sharing skills. Everyone had access to the cauldrons which meant everyone could add their own ingredients to the mixture. When someone added something we didn't like, we had to talk through our frustrations with our friends and learn to compromise.
When asked what kind of potions our friends were making they responded:
"Just a regular potion with spiders in it." - E
"A mask potion!" - EG
"A very big tall!" - C
"A castle!" - W
"We are making two scary trickster potions!" - E
"It's hot tea! Nobody drink it!" - W
"I made a orange potion with yellow and red!" - EG
"Mine makes you hide and float real good!" - EG
"Look how gorgeous this potion is!" - EG
"It's going to explode!" - E
*Stories Around Our Bonfire*
Reading is always one of our kiddos favorite activities! We sat around our warm bonfire and listened to our new library additions! In honor of R's birthday, we read some of his favorite stories which prompted a lot of laughter and giggles! :-)
Our Wednesday group sang Happy Birthday to our friend, R, and made him a birthday mural! Hope you had a wonderful day, R! We love you!
*Celtic Dance Party!*
Finally, to close out our Samhain celebrations we listened to Celtic music and danced around our bonfire. The new music inspired us to gather hands and skip around the fire! We split up into partners and swung each other round and round! Our friends came up with very lively jigs - must have been all that sugar! :-)
I'm beyond happy to have celebrated my first Samhain with this amazing group of kiddos! We will have another special celebration at the end of this year in honor of the Winter Solstice!
Thanks to all of our families for your support! :-)