I’m looking to populate my sidebar with links to other great Waldorf resources. If you’ve got one that you love leave it in the comments below!
In my neck of the woods Mother Nature has taken a turn — away from winter and towards the time when all of the life of the world is expressed outwardly. Buds are on the branches, children are asking to wear short sleeves and bare feet and we all feel that quickening of life within.
I am looking for new and exciting ways to bring the freshness of the world to my students and for inspiration I am looking to the natural world. Fortunately, there is much within the given curriculum that asks us to look at the natural world, but we don’t need to limit ourselves to the curriculum.
One of the things I am doing with my students, which is somewhat tangentially related to the Botany block we will take up at the end of the year, is beginning a worm bin.
I ordered 300 red wiggler worms and following the instructions in this book and elsewhere around the internet, we will begin a bin where we will compost our lunch scraps. I can’t wait to see it in action. Who knows? Maybe next year we will sell our compost as a fundraiser!
My son’s third grade class is adopting chicks, which, when they’re all feathered out and old enough, will come live at our house. We’re having fun preparing our yard and looking at plans for chicken coops. This Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens is a great resource. Check your library for other great guides to raising chickens.
Once we do finally begin our Botany block at the end of the year, I will be using the second half of Charles Kovacs’ Botany as my primary resource. I am also planning on including lots of hands-on activities. Steiner gave very strict indications that plants should be studied as a part of their environment, and that we should not pull them out and dissect them in an effort to understand them. I do, however, want for my students to watch plants as they grow. Together we will plant seeds in glass jars so we can watch their development. I look forward to finding many other hands-on activities to incorporate.
I can’t possibly write a post about springtime in the Waldorf school without mentioning this book. The Story of the Root Children by Sibylle von Olfers is the classic tale of spring. No child under seven should let a springtime pass without reading this book at least once.
Spring is definitely a time to be out enjoying the natural world with children. These days I’m finding lots of curriculum inspiration when I step outside my front door.
When I first discovered Waldorf education one of my favorite parts was the emphasis on crafting with natural materials. I took on projects with gusto and happily passed that love on to my children. Now I am happy to have wonderful knitting and crafting companions who don’t complain at all when I suggest a trip to the yarn shop. The books below helped make that happen.
The Children’s Year by Stephanie Cooper, Christine Fynes-Clinton and Marije Rowling was one of the first Waldorf books I bought. I loved that it had so many sweet crafts to do and that they were sorted by season. I first descended upon the knitting projects (mostly in the Winter section) but the kids and I had a great time with many of the other crafts in the book. Almost all of them (except for many the woodworking projects) are kid-friendly and easily done with children of kindergarten age and older (some are will even work for younger children.)
The Nature Corner was another book that inspired my craftiness. Full of beautiful ways to make your seasonal nature table richer and more beautiful, The Nature Corner is very inspiring. Though nature displays in this book are lovely, I hope that no one finds them limiting, as I did on occasion. I believe a nature display does not need to be perfect and polished. Items found on a nature walk are just as lovely for this kind of display as the beautiful dolls and figures that have been labored over. A combination of both makes the loveliest nature display.
If you’ve never made a Waldorf doll for any of the children in your life, I highly recommend it, and Making Waldorf Dolls is the book to use. I love that this book includes not just the more intricate, beautiful dolls, but also the simple knot dolls, as well. There is nothing quite like a handmade doll. I’ve made one for two of my children and they are treasured. Making a doll is easier than you’d think and with this book you’ll be guided step-by-step.
Other Waldorf crafting ideas:
Have fun and get crafting!
One of the things many of us love about Waldorf education is its focus on a handmade homelife. When my oldest was a baby my new interest in Waldorf education inspired me to learn to knit, make lots of little handmade toys, use handknit wool soakers over my cloth diapers. All of this crafting was inspired by two books that quickly became dog-eared and tattered, but remain on my shelf, now inspiring the artistic vision of my children. Here are my two favorites, along with a couple of others that come highly recommended.
The Children’s Year — This book is divided into seasons, with artistic activities to go along with each. I was first inspired by the knitting patterns that are in the fall and winter sections, but since then have tried several of the other projects, as well, including the sewn “rucksack” and sweet little flower fairies. With about 30 crafts in each season, there is plenty to occupy your head, hands and heart throughout the year.
The Nature Corner — I loved this book for ideas for setting up my nature table. It has beautiful pictures of “seasonal tableaus” and gives great instructions for making little dolls and figures to go with them. This is the book that I used to create the felt puppets for our family nativity scene. These little people were so fun and easy to make that I made a set for my children to use with their dollhouse. This book also gives very basic instructions for making a Waldorf doll head, though it does not go into making the body, as the figures in this book have bodies made of felt.
These two books kept my crafting happily inspired for a long time. There are plenty of other books out there, though, that I have less experience with, but come highly recommended.
Making Waldorf Dolls — If you want to make a Waldorf doll, but you don’t want to buy a kit, by all counts, this is the book to buy. It has instructions for making dolls in three different sizes and gives thorough instructions. It appears to be a bit short on pictures, but that drawback doesn’t seem to get in the way of the instruction.
All Year Round — This book is written by the same trio that wrote The Children’s Year and Lifeways. It addresses the festivals themselves more directly, including recipes, verses, songs and poems, and things to make. It addresses the Christian festivals that are often celebrated at Waldorf schools, including Michaelmas, Martinmas and St. John’s.
There are other Waldorf crafting books out there, and I’m sure lots of online resources, too. What are your favorites? Post in the comments.
When I first began teaching at a Waldorf school I quickly found that there were resources for teaching that everyone used. Usually the not-to-be-missed resource titles were passed down from teacher to teacher, as each one of us shared with the teacher of the class behind us what worked, what didn’t, and what resources we couldn’t have lived without. All through I was so grateful for the benevolence of those teachers who shared the fruits of their labors with me and I was more than happy to share my experiences with the teachers who were behind me.
I wondered, though, if there might come a time when I would be undertaking an adventure through the grades again, perhaps this time without the support of a veteran teacher just one step ahead of me. Because of this fear, I made every effort to take detailed notes all the way through (sometimes more successfully than others) making sure that even if I wasn’t so good about taking notes on the exact content we studied, I at least had the titles of those few valuable resources.
In recent months I have become a part of a Waldorf homeschooling community that is composed not of teachers following each other in a neat little line, but of parents, doing their best, with limited resources, to provide this phenomenal education for their children. I’ve realized how lucky I am to have my little store of notes, however cryptic or sketchy they may be.
I’ve realized also, though, that there are a lot of people out there with a lot of really good information, and they’re all too willing to share.
It is with all of these thoughts in mind that I begin this blog. My intent is to post my own recommendations for books, toys and curriculum resources and hopefully to collect some of that worldly Waldorf wisdom that is out there into one place. I’d love for people to offer to contribute — writing up a little summary of their resources at the end of each block.
These will be real reviews written by real people who have real lives that have been shaped by the resources that we post here. Our advice is tried and true and it is offered to the community of Waldorf mothers, fathers, parents and teachers.