two easy ways to change the atmosphere of the house are through lighting and music. candles can set a festive mood, but good, strong light can be just what’s needed for working on a project. match the light to the work at hand. music can add energy or space for contemplation. again, we can use this tool as a help to underscore or change the climate or feel of the day.
it also can help to have a simple plan for approaching celebrations. earlier this month i offered glimpses of our saint day celebrations throughout Advent. i try to keep three things in mind as i plan:
- food–is there some way to incorporate a festive feel to what we eat? oats for breakfast–because that’s what the saint’s donkey would eat–gets a lot of play around here! earlier this month we made a “tonsure cake” to celebrate St Francis. it’s just our normal the-bananas-have-gone-soft-so-let’s-make-banana bread. but i cooked it in our old bundt pan to make it look like the saint’s crazy haircut!
- art–coloring sheets are our favorite work, but we also really like looking for fine art images that might add to the day. for the past two years we have used the free sample of Giatto pages at Simply Charlotte Mason during Holy Week. the images are tender and beautiful and so human.
- story–story is the way into imagination; it’s how we learn by heart. we love hearing the stories of scripture and the saints through storybooks. there are so many good, illustrated editions available. there are also plenty of not so good books. find what you and your children like, and read them together. often! it’s these shared experiences that create family culture.
so. atmosphere. that’s what Charlotte Mason calls it. in Reggio it’s the environment, the third teacher. unschoolers call it strewing. all ways of saying a similar thing–our place matters. how can we pay attention?