The Art of Story Telling to the Preschool Child

Contributed by Sarah Wiberg (Parent-Child Class Teacher)

& Nancy St. Vincent (Early Childhood Class Teacher)

Waldorf story telling captivates preschool children

Preschool Puppets

One special part of a Waldorf Early Childhood experience is the use of puppetry to tell a story. The teacher is able to express a variety of deep story themes and soul moods with the simplest of gestures.  The magic for the viewer, whether they are young or old, is that the atmosphere surrounding the story is held with complete reverence and respect.  Lighting a candle and singing a simple song marks the beginning of this special time.

Engaging imagination in a preschool child

Stories rich in language and archetypical characters lay the foundation for creativity and imaginative thinking in the child. Colored silks and wools are used to reflect the seasons and the gestures of these archetypal figures.  Puppets that are lovingly handmade bring the story to life. The puppets are often without faces so the child is free to have their individual experience of the story.  The puppets and the props for the story are made from natural materials such as wool, silk, and wood.  This connects the child to the natural world. Stories follow the characters as they experience joy as well as struggles.  The characters are always able to find their way to the safety of home.  This is a very comforting message. The life of a young child can have many challenges and they need to know that they have a safe and secure place to return to.

Experience the Waldorf way of story telling with your child

Every year, the early childhood faculty at Meadowbrook Waldorf School present a marionette or puppet show for Holiday Faire visitors. This event allows parents a peek into the special world that their children get to experience, and for children and adults who have never seen it before, an opportunity to connect with something truly magical.  We invite you and your child to experience the wonder of story telling and puppetry at the upcoming Holiday Faire.  Please come to witness this simple, beautiful gift.

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Come join in the 2014 festivities at the Meadowbrook Waldorf School Holiday Faire.

Friday, November 21rd from 6-9 PM (Adults’ Night)

Saturday, November 22th from 10-4 (Family Day) 

Handwork is Meaningful Work in a Waldorf School

Why is handwork integrated in the curriculum at a Waldorf school?

Waldorf school handwork verse

As a third year parent at Meadowbrook Waldorf School, one of the first interesting things I observed was the use of handwork and other ‘meaningful work’ in the classroom.  When adults engage in meaningful work such as sweeping, cutting vegetables, or doing handwork crafts, it brings a sense of calmness to the space. It seems to possess an almost magical ability to settle the children.  One of two things often happen. The young child either imitates the work being modeled or s/he feels the security to go off and play nearby.  This is something that I witness at home and see weekly in the Parent-Child classroom.  In parent-child class, adults are given small handwork projects and the toddlers are happy to explore the selection of toys available to them.  In  early childhood grades of pre-school and kindergarten, the children are introduced to simple craft handwork projects such as finger knitting. Handwork is incorporated into the curriculum through all the grades and increases in complexity with the childrens’ advancing skills.  Learning these craft skills have the added bonus at home being a productive way to pass the time on a rainy day or a long car ride.

“Through beauty, color, and form, handwork and crafts help to lead the children from play to imaginative thinking as adults, forming a kind of bond between the two. “ from The Importance of Handwork in the Waldorf School by Patricia Linvingston published in Renewal, A Journal for Waldorf Education, Vol. 9#1, Spring 2000
A few ways handwork helps children develop. (Source: Angela Mobley)
  • Moves the child from play to meaningful work.
  • Nurtures sense of reverence and wonder.
  • Develop patience and perseverance.
  • Builds capacity to concentrate and focus
  • Builds capacity to solve problems.
  • Promotes capacities for thinking and judging.
Handwork Gift Items at the Meadowbrook Waldorf School Holiday Faire Store
Waldorf school handwork knitting needle bags

Felted wool knitting needle bags.

There will be a variety of handwork gifts at the Holiday Faire store this year.  You will find knitting, crocheting, felting, weaving  and sewing items available suitable for a range of age groups.  There are beautiful hand crafted knitting needles and handmade felted wool needle bags.  Also featured are lovely wooden beading looms with glass beads,  a natural alternative to the currently popular elastic band looms.  Shop Saturday 6-9 pm or Sunday 10-4.

Also be sure to visit the handwork display and visit with the handwork teacher to learn more about how handwork supports learning in a Waldorf school.

Waldorf school handwork item

Wooden beading loom, a natural alternative to the elastic band looms.

handwork items for waldorf school store

Various handwork projects will be offered.

 

Holiday Faire

10 Tips for Enjoying the Holiday Faire

Holiday Faire EntertainmentThe Meadowbrook Waldorf School Holiday Faire is an event not to be missed and is one that my family has looked forward to every year since we discovered it three years ago. Over time, we have learned a few tips and tricks to make the day more enjoyable and relaxing, especially with young children.

1. Arrive Early to the Holiday Faire

Parking is available in the school lot and next door at the antique barn, which is a 5-minute walk to the Faire entrance. A shuttle to and from the school is also available.

By afternoon, the lots will be quite full. If you have restless small children who will need an afternoon nap, try to arrive close to when the Faire opens at 10 am.

2. Plan your time at the Holiday Faire

Waldorf Preschool Puppet Show

There are so many things to see and do! If you plan to make your own beeswax candles, then start with this craft (more on this later).

The puppet show is delightful for adults and absolutely mesmerizing for the little ones. Scope out the show time you’d like upon your arrival so you can manage your shopping and craft-making around it.

If you have never participated in a drum circle, now is a great time to try it.  Simply sit and join in when a seat is vacated. There are also performances by the Ladies of the Rolling Pin and carolers that add to the festivities of the day; if you can catch them, it’s well worth it.

3. Spend the entire day at the Holiday Faire

Waldorf School Holiday Faire Drum Circle

It’s not that you can’t just pop in for an hour or two, but you won’t be able to experience all the Holiday Faire has to offer in a short amount of time. Some crafts are time-consuming (See Candle Dipping) and the general vibe is one that invites taking it all in without having to worry about racing out early. Three hours would probably cover it, though we personally make a whole day of it.

4. Get Around the Holiday Faire Easily with Baby

I highly recommend leaving the stroller in the car and carrying a small baby or toddler in a comfortable carrier. The hallways can get crowded at times, and the store has narrow aisles. Tuck a diaper and wipes in your bag or pocket to save a trip back to the car. There is one bathroom equipped with a changing table near the children’s crafts room.

5. Plan to start your beeswax candle dipping first.

If you plan to make your own hand-dipped beeswax candle, you may want to start that as soon as you arrive so that you can work on it throughout the day. This craft requires adding layers of wax and then waiting for each layer to cool before dipping again. Depending on the size candle you are aiming for (candles are paid for by weight), the process could take anywhere from 2 hours to all day. This is a great activity, as you’ll get to enjoy the candle with each dinner over the winter months.

6. Visit the Crystal Cave (Formerly known as the Gnome Cave)

Be sure to visit the Crystal Cave either right before or immediately after you begin the candle dipping craft. It is truly magical and not to be missed. The Crystal Cave often has long lines, particularly when the puppet show is over.

7. Make Time for Crafts

There are several crafts available for a range of skill levels. Most are suitable for young children. If you carved out the whole day, you’ll be able to get creative in the crafting rooms at a gentle pace. If you only have a little time, scope out the craft options and pick the one or two that most appeal to you.

8. Shop at the Holiday Faire Store

Waldorf Holiday Faire StoreMy best tip for visiting the beautiful school store on Sunday is to bring another adult. When it’s time to sit down and rest and give your smallest Faire enthusiasts a snack, one person can stay with them while the other sneaks away to the centrally-located market for a bit of shopping.  Of course, if you want to do some Holiday shopping without the children at all then I highly recommend going the night before to the adults only Holiday Faire event where you could enter to win a $25 gift certificate to spend at the store.

Don’t miss the used book room for lots of great reads at an even greater bargain.

9. Enjoy the Playroom

Waldorf preschool classroomNew this year is the playroom, which will offer the chance for your little ones to interact in a preschool/kindergarten or Early Childhood classroom. If you are interested in seeing what a typical day in the preschool or kindergarten program looks like and would like to speak with a staff member who can answer your questions about Waldorf education, inquire about the playroom when you arrive.

10. Peek into the Practical Arts

Waldorf handwork loom

Handwork is an essential element of a Waldorf education, and the practical art teachers will display a bit of what they do in one of the classrooms. Handwork is done in the classroom in a quiet and peaceful environment, and so it follows that this is often a quiet activity. We happened into this room unexpectedly last year and it was an welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the Faire.  While our son and niece happily weaved on a natural loom made of tree branches, we enjoyed a pleasant conversation with the lovely handwork teacher.

Finally, just take it all in.

Waldorf School Play Equipment OutdoorsIf you have never visited a Waldorf school before, be sure to spend some time enjoying the play areas outside. You’ll find gardens, climbing equipment, and rope swings, as well as many obstacles and forts that the children have built during their school days.

The essence of the school is evident from the moment you arrive. Every element is purposely chosen and intended to surround the children with beauty. The entire Faire is created and held by the parents working together. It is a testament to the sense of community that is built within the school. If you pay attention, you’ll feel the love that permeates every nuance of the school and the Faire. It is a magical event, not just for the children, but for everyone who comes and enjoys this special welcoming of the Holiday Season.

Have a wonderful time at Meadowbrook Waldorf School Holiday Faire!

mws faire logo

Come join in the festivities at the Meadowbrook Waldorf School Holiday Faire. Saturday, November 23rd from 6-9 PM (Adults’ Night)
Sunday, November 24th from 10-4 (Family Day) 

 

Author Vint Virga Appearing at the Holiday Faire

Veterinary behaviorist, Dr. Vint Virga, author of The Soul of All Living Creatures, What Animals Can Teach Us About Being Human, is coming to the Meadowbrook Waldorf School Holiday Faire for an intimate reading and book signing.  This event is part of the wonderful offerings presented at Adult Night on November 23rd and will start promptly at 7:00 PM. A limited number of books will be for sale at the reading.

Author Vint VirgaSpace is limited. To reserve your spot, please email a request to dr.kimbeauchamp@verizon.net.

Dr. Vint Virga shares some of his thoughts with readers here:

MWS: How has the experience of writing your book influenced your own relationships?

Dr. Vint Virga: The world of stepping into the shoes of a writer has been a sea of change in my personal life as much as it has been in my work. While writing the final drafts of the book, I spent two winters apart from family and friends in literary fellowships at The MacDowell Colony. Living in solitude for most of each day in a studio set in the woods of New Hampshire allowed me to reflect on my writing and life in a way in which few artists can in the world as we know it. Needless to say as I worked on each chapter, I found I was writing them as much for me as for my readers.  Each chapter and lesson has taken my relationships with animals and people to a much deeper level.
MWS: In this season of giving, some parents may decide to surprise their children with a pet. What recommendations would you make to prospective animal owners before taking this step?
Dr. Vint Virga: While surprising a child or loved one with a new pet for the holidays can certainly be romantic and exciting, it also can be fraught with struggles and unexpected problems.  Animals (just as much as people) have individual personalities–apart from species or breed characteristics. So, in giving a pet to a child or a loved one, I encourage friends to include the whole family in finding and choosing new pets to come home.  The adventure of searching for a new pet can reveal which creature is suited for them and will best bring to light the magical bond we are hoping to give to that pet and our loved one.
(From Dr. Vint Virga’s website) With The Soul of All Living Creatures, Virga draws from his decades in veterinary practice to reveal how, by striving to perceive the world as animals do, we can enrich our own appreciation of life, enhance our character, nurture our relationships, improve our communication with others, reorder our values, and deepen our grasp of spirituality. Virga discerningly illuminates basic traits shared by both humans and animals and makes animal behavior meaningful, relevant, and easy to understand. Insightful and eloquent, The Soul of All Living Creatures offers an intimate journey into the lives of our fellow creatures and a thought-provoking promise of what we can learn from spending time with them.
 

Come join in the festivities at the Meadowbrook Waldorf School Holiday Faire. 

Saturday, November 23rd from 6-9 PM (Adults’ Night)

Sunday, November 24th from 10-4 (Family Day)