What do you teach? I am the Playgroup Coordinator, and host three playgroups: one at the Preschool and two at Castlecrag. I am also a Gardening Teacher at the Preschool and Castlecrag campuses and I share the teaching role at Middle Ccove campus role with horticulturalist / teacher Kathy Thangathurai and we are assisted by Edgar Maier and Michelle Chambers. I therefore have the joy of bringing restorative agriculture practices to all three campuses!
How long have you been at Glenaeon and what is your background? I started teaching at Glenaeon at the beginning of 2018, coming from the north coast of NSW. I have taught biodynamic gardening extensively, and have also been an early childhood and gardening consultant for many years in Fiji, China, Vietnam and Canada. I have a Masters of Steiner Education from Columbia University, a Bachelor of Child Study Degree and I have my Biodynamic Farming gardening Certificate, having studied deeply with Gunther Hawk (a world leader of bee education with a Bee sanctuary in West Virginia). As an educator with commitment to community development, I have created and established relevant programs for children, teenagers and adults, including drug and alcohol rehabilitation and municipal government. Click to continue.
What is on the horizon for you this year? Being the Waldorf 100 year, I am focused also on supporting bees and the global movement towards protecting our species with bees – this is a world-wide initiative. I am also expanding our focus on SOIL – for example with the understanding that weeds can show there is a NEED in the soil that can be addressed through additions of elements to the compost such as calcium and lime etc. With Kathy, we share the vision that all classes can be exposed to natural science, having their hands in the earth, and to realise that they, too, are a part of the function of the garden itself. We support an unofficial ‘gardening club’ for the high school children who come to garden in their breaks and ‘optional or topic pertinent classes‘. High school use the garden for Agriculture and Food Technology, but gardening club is open to anyone, voluntary and in addition to anything they are learning in formal classes. Thirdly, I am passionate that the whole campus can compost a lot more (from all of our events as well as day-to day). I believe we as a school can help humanity to ‘save the world’ by a sharing the understanding that composting is for EVERYONE, not just gardeners and scientists. I want people to feel that the garden belongs to THEM – the planting and harvesting flowers and vegetables too!
What do you like about teaching at Glenaeon? I love welcoming the playgroup families, with their little children, eyes open wide – who are looking for communication, a safe, nurturing place to come with their family. With my colleagues, I am very enthusiastic about teaching children, and offering them an enlivened education. The families look around at our enchanted gardens, and see other parents engaging with their own children, seeking and building an extended family and community of people working together for healthy communal growth. They see the bush that holds and supports us in this urban life, and marvel at the beautiful interface between nature and the urban environments. Over time they realise that we are part of a small ‘hub’, which belongs to a greater one in Sydney and surrounds – and then Australia, and then the world. All over the world people can seek unique similarities in Steiner education, and experience the wondrous intensity of this inspired and dedicated, healthful, meaningful education.
What are your other interests? I love sourdough bread baking, sailing, skiing, (the YUKON Sandra comes out!) and exploring nature. I love teaching compost and celebrating life with children and all ages of family and friends.
Where is your favourite place on the campuses? I love all three gardens on all three campuses!
MONDAY (PRESCHOOL CAMPUS)
TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY (CASTLECRAG CAMPUS)
TERM 1, 2019 – STORYLINE & SONGS
T’was a sweet unfolding of friendships for all as we explored the vibrant Glenaeon Playgroup settings in a health filled tapestry for our children.
Appropriate stories build our resilience for what life demands of us and offers us too. Through feeding our imagination; through hearing the rhythm and repetition of our human voice and word ; through feeling the goodness of wisdom intended, we grow.
In February Sydney is a – buzz with the ‘Chinese New Year Celebration’. Thus we began our first term of 2019 with puppet show stories of our large pink knitted pig ‘Liang Liang’. (Mandarin for light.)
While she dug in the compost with her babies, the 12 Chinese zodiacal animals on the farm celebrated her for “Year of the Golden Pig’ . Her kindness, humility, and good luck were honoured though she was bashful to hear this.
This theme carried over into our baking as our dough was overflowing PIG! In our game time we combined our silk cloth peek- a -boo game with ‘Old Mac Donald’. There was much merriment as we snorted and squealed and mooed and some children even danced while we clapped!
In March we explored the story of the Three Little Pigs leaving their maternal home and making their houses of flimsy straw, then hard sticks and then sturdy stones. This puppet show gave us a metaphor for our own and that of our children’s gradual resilience building. When the ‘strong winds’ threaten to ‘blow our house down’ we may ‘run home to safety’. There we recoup ourselves with the strengthening of sleep. The next day we are more mature and we are more knowledgeable about protecting ourselves. Our fears defeated, we can ‘live happily ever after’.
Good for us trying new things and learning how to support ourselves! Through our discussions we learned tools from each other for facing our fears ( and those of our children) and being patient with ourselves (and our children) as we all adapt to new adventures. Our empathy grows.
How can we protect our children for what is not necessary for them to be exposed to? How can we prevent unnecessary trauma and heal wounds of all natures? What facts can we convey so we can stand up for their right to grow up in a nurturing, age appropriate environment? ‘Together’ we can.
To introduce our butter making activity, we had the puppet show story of the farmer needing us to help make the cream after the cow had been milked. She had eaten lots of juicy green grass which had now been made into creamy milk. Then we all too turns shaking the cream jars until we had the golden sun surprise in the jar! Home made butter!
‘Come butter come Come butter come If you don’t hurry you’re gonna be late and I’m gonna beat you to the garden gate.’
In fluctuating weather of autumnal April, the Chinese story ‘The Dragon’s Gate’  was appropriate for continuing our resilience- building work. My adaptation was of a dragon wishing for a friend and the fish wishing to fly. Daring to wish and being open to the wish coming true is a worthy motivator for life.
The colourful fish dared to leave it’s safe home element of water to try to make its’ dream come true. With one deep breath after another and accompanying large leaps ‘up, up, up’, ‘Swish Fish’ succeeds in traversing the grand, gushing waterfall that connects the treasure filled lake he lived in and reach finally, the top of the mountain.
At the top of the mountain his fins become wings, he can fly in the light, and now colourful Dragon ‘Ani Aff’ (Hebrew for ‘I am flying’) has his dream of a friend to fly with!
Amongst the white fluffy clouds and the blue, blue sky they fly together:
‘I am flying I am flying I am flying
Adorned with wings of light. ‘
As the calendar year moved along, children’s birthdays were celebrated with a specially crafted story unique to the intricacies of each child. The birthday celebrations flowed with familiar songs, a birthday bread and lots of love too.
(In order of end of term to beginning)
‘Little bulb little bulb come into your bed so dark. Comfy there until its’ time to shine, shine, shine.’
‘Come little leaves said the wind one day come over the meadow with me to play.’ X2
‘Puff the Magic Dragon lives by the sea and wallows in the autumn mist in a land called Honalee.’ X2
‘I am flying I am flying I am flying Adorned with wings of light ‘
‘Come butter come Come butter come
If you don’t hurry you’re gonna be late
and I’m gonna beat you to the garden gate.’
‘It’s a new moon after all It’s a new moon after all
It’s a new moon after all It’s a new moon after all. ‘
(Tune of ‘It’s a small world’)
( It’s a half moon, It’s a full moon.)
‘I see the moon the moon sees me
The Angels bless the moon and the angels bless me’
‘Old Mac Donald had a farm ee I ee I oh
And on his farm he had a mooo Ee I Ee I oh
With a moo moo here and a moo moo there, Old mac Donald had a farm ee I ee I oh!’
‘Bluebird, bluebird through my window
Bluebird, bluebird through my window
Bluebird, bluebird through my window
To catch a little sweetie’.
‘Roly poly roly poly all the way to …’s house’
(when we roll a ball from one person to another’ )
‘Good morning dear Earth Good morning dear sun Good morning dear stones and flowers everyone
Good morning dear animals and birds in the trees Good morning to you and good morning to me’
‘Oh here we are together, together, together
Oh here we are together at play group today.
There’s … and …and … too.
Oh here we are together, together, together
Oh here we are together at playgroup today’.
Healing, healing loving for my beautiful daughter/son
Healing, healing has begun
Now my son/daughter will have some fun
(When a child has hurt themselves)
‘In Heaven high there shines a star
An angel brought you from afar
From Father sky to Mother earth
Brought you to your place of birth’
‘Twinkle twinkle little star how I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high Like a diamond in the sky
Twinkle twinkle little star how I wonder what you are’.
‘Rock a bye baby on the tree top
When the wind blows the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks
The cradle will fall
and down will fall baby cradle and all.’
‘Fish swim in the water
Birds fly in the air
Come and sparkle your hands here
and dry them over there’. (For hand washing)
‘Soft sifted flour from wheat golden x2’
‘Roly poly, roly poly, roly poly roly’
(When we roll bread dough or a ball to each person)
‘The bakers are baking, baking the bread today
The bakers are baking, baking today. ‘
‘We’re kneading We’re kneading We bakers we are kneading We’re kneading we’re kneading we’re kneading dough today.‘
(And many other adjectives: pounding, rolling, squishing, knuckling tapping, patting, pushing, pulling, adorning, embellishing, squashing, )
Patt’a cake patt’a cake bakers man
‘Bake me a cake as fast as you can
Roll it and prick it and Mark it with a ‘B’
And put it in the oven for Baby and me.
‘Morning tea, morning tea
Won’t you come and dine with me?
Fruit and vegetables and porridge and bread
and a little bit of tea for you and me.
Morning tea, morning tea
Won’t you come and dine with me?’
‘Make a mountain with your hands
The strongest mountain that you can.
Thank you for this food, this food, this glorious, glorious food.
And the animals, and the vegetables and the minerals that make it possible. ‘
‘We can make a circle round like the sun
And we can make a circle with a place for everyone’.
(Gathering people into circle form)
“I met a little dusty gnome
He said: ‘It’s time to go for a roam . Let’s clean our home.’
Follow, follow … follow follow
Follow, follow… follow now.
(When we are moving from one place to another. It allows children to feel the order of the direction and they enjoy being the leader’.)
Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream.
(Group Unifying song that children love to enact with adults)
We’ve had a lovely day and now it’s time to go on our way.
Good bye … good bye… goodbye…. And …. Too. Good bye… good bye …. Goodbye… and … too.
“Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Sandra Frain, Melinda Adams and Cheri Dostal Ryba.
I would love everyone to binge watch every single video, but let me give you a sense of these next stories.
Have you joined the Facebook Group yet – we would love to have you engage in the conversation. Sharing Soulful Stories. Password is Soulful Stories.
Sandra is a beautiful and engaging storyteller. The photo below shows how committed she is to drawing in her audience with wonder and delight. Hear in her story her incredible appreciation of the magnificence of us as humans and of everything on earth.
“am I being a responsible person in this relationship? How can I look back on what I did yesterday or last year and go, oh my gosh, that was so insensitive. That was so blind, that was so unconscious. How can I help to remedy that? And where can I go next in my spirituality that is going to help me to be able to not do that. And perhaps to help other people who want to do that also.”
Melinda’s story is one for you if you were a child who could see things that others couldn’t, or perhaps you’ve felt or known things without explanation. Her story may be surprising, intriguing or comforting depending on your own relationship with your intuition and following the guidance of ‘spirit’.
“all of a sudden I was in a new world and that world was very energetic and it was very real to me, of course I was questioning my sanity a lot along the way, I researched and the more I spoke with people, I realized that this is something natural and, and really it’s where we’re all meant to able trust our senses, go with our flow, feel like we’re one with the universe and being supported by the universe and, you know, really I guess being in tune with what our true essence.”
Cheri is a movement educator, pelvic floor expert and is totally committed to embodiment and guiding others to discover it too.
“because I’ve worked with the physical body and Movement for so many years that, that that’s, that’s one of the things I come back to is how can we make it tangible, how can spirituality be tangible and practical, a lived experience.”
Cheri Dostal Ryba
Thank you for today. I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your positivity, and your welcoming and flexible approach to the routines of the playgroup w Teddy.
He struggles w new places and faces and I struggle to now whether I’m pushing him too much. Your calm manner and warm expressiveness puts us both at ease. You are a great example to the children and parents in your group.
Today, Teddy and I made some pita chips with your dried rosemary. They are yum.
I would love your porridge recipe too – we’ll call it Sandra’s porridge! 😊
Extract from AEON Magazine:
Sandra has a rich history in early childhood and biodynamic gardening and is one of Glenaeon’s gardening teachers. She focuses on creating a steady, safe, non-judgemental, nurturing environment for her parents and children.
Through repetition, which includes the introduction of manners, the children are elevated to a higher form of human interaction – this is what we meaning by ‘bringing our children up’.
In baking, the families grow to understand the qualities of the different grains which they bake as sourdough bread from Sandra’s ancient recipe. The bread is always baked with herbs from the garden – Sandra’s apothecary right there on the table for everyone to partake!
In craft activities throughout the year the parents have wet felted slippers, made garlands and woven biography rugs for the playgroup room. Families bring old clothes from home which they rip up (an activity the children thoroughly enjoy) and weave together to create a colourful tapestry of their lives to make the playgroup space feel even cosier.
Extract from AEON Magazine
It is also important for the children to experience a sustainable way of life, growing food, watering, harvesting and cooking each day. Sandra Frain, our biodynamic gardener comes each week and gardens with the children in our raised vegetable beds and our herb and flower gardens. They watch our native bees leave to pollinate the local native bush and they eat white mulberries from our tree.
Parents have benefited from four talks about organic/biodynamic gardening and foods and Sandra has held two composting workshops at the preschool.
Extract from AEON Magazine:
Gentle, supported transitions from home to our centre are a very important part of our ethos. Parents of children who have not been in out-of-home care stay in the morning for the first two weeks of the year and can use our parents’ room to work if they want to remain on premises as the children settle into a longer day. We now have a playgroup that allows the two years olds to settle in to the premises and playground and get to know a future home away from home. We call it our Welcome Home Playgroup. It is so nice to see the very young children and parents / carers with us on Monday mornings.