Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Nature table

I am always interested to find out what leads people to different experiences or philosophies. What is it that first turns your head For me with Waldorf education it was the "Nature Table" and in general the seasonal approach to early childhood. I should add here that I am not coming from “strict waldorf’ philosophy, there is a lot that doesn’t jive with me. I do read Steiner and try to understand, and process, and most the time I am inspired by this man! A true Rennaisance Soul!! I am amazed by how much of his work is still relevent to childhood today. However, I do think that a lot has changed in the world since the 1920’s (some good and some not so good) and I wonder what Steiner would write if he were alive and writing today. I do not think we can just continue to re-read and interpret his work to relate to today as is. He was a radical and I can only think that if he were writing today his work would continue to be radical.

Sustainability (in food, medicine), the environment, creating community, conservation, alternative energies are all in my opinion hugely relevant topics for children today. As one who walks the herbal path, a blend of waldorf inspired education place based education, and evironmental education seems most organic.

Back to the nature table: I always had room alters...... alters to the goddess, ansectral alters. The first thing I did wen Zoe was born was create a nature table for her in a really central location. It began really simple, a seasonally coloured candle on a coloured silk and a postcard of the season or the weather and some flowers. We began using the Baby Einstein seasonal cards!! (now i know Baby Einstein is about as far from waldorf as possible but remember it is "how" you use certain products that makes the difference). We have since made many of our own postcards using photos and magazine cuttings. Whenever Zoe sees a good picture she asks “can that be for my nature table!” We have also bought some of gorgeous postcards from authors Elsa Beskow and Sibylle Von Olfers.

Here are a few pictures of some of our nature tables this will see how simple they can be. In the Winter one Mother Earth and her sleeping root children (needle felted mostly with a wool stuffed head) the ground is covered with snow. The Spring/Easter time one snow has melted there is a nest with some birds a baby bunny (wool fest) and some chicks (knitted). And Summer.......we have shells that Zoe collected in Maine on an ocean coloured silk with a wooden boat, some postacards from places we have been and some that friends have mailed us. And now as the season changes again we are thinking about late summer scene. Nature tables are a really fun project that even the youngest child can get involved in creating.

How to Create Your own Nature table

Nature is a great way to introduce rhythms to your child's life, the natural rhythm we all live by. This connection will have a long lasting beneficial effect on your child's psyche.

Select a small table that the children can reach and assign that to be your nature table. Do not lack of space stop you! You can use a window sill or the center of your dinning room table Display on your table little treasures that are inspired by the season. In the fall, you might add a leaf that is changing colors, spring might have little felted bunny rabbits. It is also a good way to display your child's art/crafts projects. It is a great way to encourage your child's appreciation for nature.

Resources to help with your nature tables:
- The Nature Corner Celebrating the Years Cycle with a Seasonal Tableau By M v Leeuwen & J Moeskops
- The Root Children by Sibylle Von Olfers

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