Grace first introduced me to Waldorf education this spring - and I was amazed at how much it fit a lot of my ideas about how life with children should be. I was having a bit of trouble figuring out how to implement any of it but two weeks ago a component fell into place that is the most exciting part of our plans for next year - and that is the nature table. I can't seem to find an accurate description of what this is supposed to be, but it doesn't really matter because I'm adapting this to our home (meaning we won't be praying to the sun or whatever - for much more thoughtful information on Waldorf inspired homeschooling see Melissa Wiley's series of posts on Waldorf education)
The table itself is actually a small dresser my father beautifully refinished years ago. And here's where the idea really comes together. There are four drawers and each will hold a month's worth of seasonal supplies (with a bit of August flowing into September) for the semester. The drawers are a place to stash the things I purchase, intend to use, and inevitably lose - ex. Cosmos seeds. Cosmos is October's flower and one I intend to plant every year in August for beautiful fall flowers but I always lose the seeds. Now they are tucked away in the top dresser. Also included are the craft kits I wrote about earlier, holy cards, Martha Stewart Kids articles, and poetry samples. So, as I go along our planning, pick up stuff on sale etc, I know it will all stay together and all be put to good use because it's all organized by month and so very handy.
On top of the dresser is where Lucy can display her seasonal crafts, acorn collections, mushroom prints, flower arrangements or whatever else strikes her fancy. I envision hand rolled beeswax candles, miniature pumpkins, poinsettias for when we read the Tomie de Paola book, our nativity set - all sorts of sweet items. I also have a little clothespin to clip up a copy of the poem she is currently memorizing. The dresser is in a main part of the living room and she recites it every time she passes by. I have a basket of seasonal book that sits at the base of the dresser that we can pick up easily.
Sometimes I think it's not what I purchase but how I put it all into practice. I am so very happy that this area fell into place and am confident it will be the center of our education next year. Ooooh, wouldn't it be the most romantic gift for my husband to surprise me with a cozy, overstuffed arm chair on our first day of school to sit next to this dresser? A girl can dream, yes? While I'm at it I would like a beautifully sewn quilt and coffee bar right next to the chair.
Tomorrow : The Learning Environment - my substitute teacher
Confession that that basket actually contains our Christmas books right now. Our summer books are strewn all over my bedroom floor (see - I'm so organized!)- you get the idea.