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“At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.
Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.”
-An excerpt from Joy Harjo’s “Perhaps the World Ends Here”
Perhaps the World Ends Here by Joy Harjo is one of my favorite poems. The imagery of the kitchen table and all that happens around it has taken on new meaning for me as our kitchen table has become our homeschool table as well. It’s a perfect poem to read in the fall, and maybe especially around Thanksgiving. It was a delight to read it to my kids at a recent poetry teatime.
We recently started a weekly tradition of holding poetry teatime together once, sometimes twice a week (our second tea is usually a geography tea) and it has quickly become one of our favorite parts of the week. We spend some time in the morning, baking a treat together (and incorporating some math while we bake). Then while the kids have their quiet time in the afternoon, I decorate and set the table. We use the fancy china and when the kids come downstairs and see the table, their wonder is palpable.
We comment on how great a job we did baking, we listen to some classical music, sip from our fancy tea cups and we read poetry and stories and enjoy each other’s company. It’s not a formal lesson. It’s relaxed and as Julie Bogart describes it, “everyone sighs a collective ahhhh” as we settle in around the table. It’s really magical.
I also use our tea parties to celebrate special occasions, holidays or themes. Last week we celebrated the autumn equinox (this would also be great for a harvest moon theme or Thanksgiving). I set up a fall nature table on our front porch to enjoy the cool autumn air. I decorated the table with the last of the flowers from our garden and treasures of leaves, twigs and acorns we found on our nature walk. We also made maple sugar cookies in the shape of maple leaves to coincide with our tree unit study! (I’ve included our recipe below if you’d like to give it a try!)
You don’t have to get as fancy as I have here. Store bought cookies and a picnic blanket on the living room floor can feel just as magical. The important part is connecting together and introducing the incredible world of poetry to your kids.
We’re currently reading through World Make Way, which is a lovely poetry compilation inspired by artwork from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I highly recommend it!
Maple Sugar Cookies
These cookies have a very subtle maple syrup flavor. If you’d like a stronger maple flavor, you can add some maple extract!
1 cup butter, at room temperature
¾ cup of sugar
3/4 cup of pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy and thoroughly mixed through. Add the eggs one at a time, and then add maple syrup, and vanilla. Mix until combined. Add baking powder, and salt. Next add flour, approximately ½ a cup at a time. The dough should be stiff and not sticky to the touch. You may need to add an additional ¼- ½ cup of flour to achieve the desired consistency.
2. Cover dough with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
4. While the oven is preheating, roll out ¼ of the dough on a lightly floured surface to approximately ¼ inch thick. Cut out shapes from your dough using cookies cutters. Here are our favorite autumn cookies cutters!
5. Place cut out dough on a lined baking sheet. The cookies will not expand much, but it’s still a good idea to leave about an inch of space between them.
6. Bake 8-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. When cool enough to handle, move to a cookie rack to cool completely.
I hope you’ll give poetry teatime a try! Autumn feels like a great time to start!
-School of Mommy