I've always been fascinated with the Waldorf philosophy. We toured a Waldorf school in the area a couple years back during an open house, I wanted to see their set up. Everything, even all the toys, are made of natural materials. A lot of wooden toys, silks, hand-sewn dolls, to name a few. Outdoor play is surrounded with trees and tree carvings in the yard. It's bringing children back to nature.
One of the things a Waldorf kindergarten classroom has, and now many preschools are incorporating the idea, is a Nature Table. Here's a description of a Nature Table from naturetables.com:
"A nature table or seasonal table can be whatever you want it to be. Simple or elaborate. The important aspect is that the child is able to connect with the objects and the scene depicted on the table. Generally, the scene will be related to the current season or an upcoming festival or holiday. The nature table is often the focal point of a Waldorf kindergarten classroom with the scene on the table directly related to the day's activities."
Check out The Magic Onions' post on Nature Tables, she is a true nature Waldorf mom!
A true pure nature table has real plants, wool-felt animals, silk scarves, wooden toys, very all-natural materials. I am going to aim to get to that point, but couldn't help picking up a few things from our dollar store to get us started, plus I found a lot just around our house and our craft shelves. I saw Homemade Rainbows Facebook site and all the ones they create and sell and was excited to get started on our own!
Here was our first Winter in the Forest creation.
A small mirror becomes a pond and bird seed in a glass jar will help feed the birds lingering in the trees. Not to mention a couple of wandering fairies looking after their forest home.
The theme is in between two seasons, which is where we are now, Fall leaves and nuts still to gather when the first early snows have already fallen.
Butterfly loved it, played at her nature table quite some time.
Butterfly fed all the animals birdseed, and then gathered the seed and nuts on the pond.
She then said the nuts were "eggs" and the mother bird needed to sit on them in her nest so "the babies can crack out of the eggs."
The she proceeded to practice with the glass jar, filling it up with items from the table and learning to open and close this new type of jar she has not tried before.
Then we attempted a second set-up:
Framed photos of children in the forest, turtles on a pond, gathered nuts in a jar, lingering Fall items of leaves and harvested corn.
The theme for this table was "Respect for Animals and 3 Sizes." We have noticed our Butterfly being a little rough with the family dog lately, so I explained how the little dolls on this table are looking after their pets with gentle care. Feeding them food, walking them, petting them. The animals I included were the common pet- cats, dogs, birds, turtles, bunny.
Sizes of three, large-medium-small, are the three-sized candles and balls in a diagonal order.
We created a nest in a wooden box with plain white feathers for the birds.
Our third attempt of a Nature Table set up:
This I like to call "The Winter Forest on Frozen Lake"
A den for bears, animals crossing the frozen lake. Snow covered trees, berries and pinecones, stone baths, and the feel of wax with basic candles.
Butterfly can rearrange anything she wants on the Nature Table. She can recreate, stack, build animal homes, rearrange trees, take the leaves out of the vase and use the vase as a cave, put the stones in another pattern, anything she likes to do. Her focus is in the forest, taking a mind-break from all the man-made commercialization in a regular day.
Since we have started this project, most of her play has been at this table :)
We took our dog for a walk and came home with more items from outside to add to our table!
Butterfly made some of her own arrangements and added our outside items.
She also added butterflies, an owl on a pedestal directing the forest animals, and we recycled two paper rolls that became brown logs for the animals to hide in!
Butterfly wanted a pair of binoculars so she can "bird watch" in her forest :)
She made nest of eggs for her birds with twine, feathers, and stones.
I now have a large plastic bin in my basement full of nature items that I have collected from around the house, as we encounter more from nature walks, recycled materials and shops, we'll keep adding to our bin and recreating a table from time to time!