Thursday, March 26, 2015

Starting a Nature Table

I've wanted to add a nature table to our home ever since I read about it three years ago in YOU ARE YOUR CHILD'S FIRST TEACHER. I've seen all the pretty pictures. I had inspiration (pinspiration) but how to start?

And where to put it?

And what about the baby getting into it?

These were all problems for me. Are they problems for you? Have you been letting these worries stop you from doing this? It's considered an important part of early Waldorf education, but it's really a fun place to mark the movement of the year, upcoming holidays, etc for anyone regardless if you are a "Waldorf" family or not.

So here's what I did and maybe it will help you.

1 - JUST START. Part of what held me back is that I didn't have anthing to begin with to have those beautiful nature tables you see online. What would I put on there except for a few dandelions my kids picked out in the yard that would shrivel up the next day? Well, guess what. That's what I put out at first. Use what you have. Start where you are. Stop waiting until you can "do it right" and just do it now. Pick something up on your next walk and bring it home.

2 - WHERE TO KEEP IT. This was a big problem for me. I barely have any knick-knacks, let alone little tables or display areas for said knick-knacks. I tried for a while on the side of my piano and that worked okay but it was sort of in the way when I actually wanted to use my piano. Then I tried the mantle and that worked fine but only I could see it which wasn't really the point. (But I just want to say if that's your only option then use it and just start.) What started actually working for me was when I went to Target and bought a wooden sort of raised, cake platter. That's not what it is, but it looks like that. It's wood and round and has a place to put things. You see it in the picture. That's what I used. I kept it on my dining table for a long time and just moved it off for meals. Now it's on a bookshelf in the family room. It's smaller, but it holds everything you need for a full nature table and the smaller size makes it feel less overwhelming, like I don't have to fill the whole thing up.
See that wood platter thing under the green silk? That's what I'm talking about.

3 - WHAT ABOUT THE BABY GETTING INTO IT? I've got an 18-month old and he gets into everything. Right now, the nature talbe is on that platter on top of the bookcase and it is out of his reach. He'll get bigger and I may have to re-evaluate. If that happens, it will move back and forth between the counter and the dining table. This is another perk of the platter display thing. I can move it as needs arise. That being said, I also put things on there that are really okay for him to touch. A pine cone. Some sea shells. A knitted cat. Felt fairies. I'd rather he didn't. But when he or one of the other kids makes a mess of it I just clean it up. It's not that hard becuase for us it is a SMALL nature table.

4 - WHAT DO I PUT ON IT? I have loved using Waldorf Essential's kindergarten curriculum. She gives you tons of ideas to put on your nature table with the handwork patterns and everything. But really, the pattern she lays out that you're supposed to take is very simple. Mineral, plant, animal, human. If you have one of each of these on your table, you're good. And sometimes we have two humans and no plants. And we've had the same seashells on there for two months now and they'll probably be there through the summer. Oh well. We're still having fun with it. Our decorations are not always amazing as you will see. I finally needle felted something pretty, but for a long time the humans were just tiny pipe cleaner and felt fairies and the kids still loved that. My animals are always knitted and often time not shaped well, but they get the point across.

As I've grown more comfortable with it, I've added more. A green silk. A watercolor painting. A leprechaun. Right now we have an easter egg banner behind it and have put our Resurrection garden there while it sprouts. Make it yours!

I love having this small section of my house to bring the outdoors in and reflect on upcoming holidays.

It's been fun, and not nearly as hard as I thought.

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