Monday, April 11, 2011

Nature Tables

We love creating nature tables.  It can be as simple as gathering seasonal objects from nature and displaying on a mantel, or making artistic projects to feature in a nook or on a shelf.

The nature table is not stagnant, but rather alive and constantly changing!  As the seasons progress, so does the nature table.

Children can be involved in so many ways.  Even the process of taking down one season's setting, cleaning, gathering items, and talking about how to set up the next season can be a lesson all on its own.  Reverence for changes in nature make us feel connected to the Earth, and also help us to understand the changes that we feel within ourselves.

Sometimes, the weather drastically changes earlier or later than we estimate, so rather than sticking strictly to the solstices and equinoxes, we change the nature table when we "feel" that it is time.  Then, little creatures appear for holidays, such as bunnies and chicks for Easter. 

The nature table can get cluttered!  Taking away is as important as adding to the setting.  Keeping special objects in a moth-proof/critter-proof container is helpful for storage. 

Each year, we like to create at least one new object for the nature table per season.  Singing, sharing stories, and saying verses while changing the nature tables is a happy family ritual.  For inspiration on nature tables, look at pictures on Flickr, take a peek inside of Pre-K-5th grade Waldorf classrooms, read books about the seasons, or search for pictures on blogs.

The Children's Year: Seasonal Crafts and Clothes (Festivals (Hawthorn Press))
A Child's Seasonal Treasury


Forest-Dweller said...

I really enjoy your nature table. Thanks for sharing. One of my biggest projects is how am I going to do one while being full time Campers? But I will figure it out. Any suggestions?

April's Homemaking said...

What beautiful nature table pictures, our familiy enjoyed these so much when the children were little, even now that they are well into their teen years we keep small seasonal displays tucked here and there in our bookshelves. I always enjoy your posts. Thanks- April

Tan Family said...

Great question, Forest-Dweller! We also love creating nature tables or "seasonal spots" outside. Usually these have rocks, interesting twigs, pine cones, acorns, seasonal leaves and flowers, or something like pumpkins or squash from the garden. You could make one where you camp on top of a flat rock, or a box or log. Yarn and felt things might disappear, so I would stick to what you find in nature. Hope you try it and post about it! :)

Kelly said...

Each of these scenes are so very beautiful and I agree that they should reflect what is happening in one's own surroundings rather than waiting to change at solstices/equinox. I remember when we went on holiday to France we took with us a blue silk and a yellow silk and crated a simple nature shelf on a windowsill while we were there. wee added all sorts of wonderful seaside finds and other precious treasures from the French countryside. It is one of those nature scenes that really remain in our memories. Wonderful post, Jennifer. We love our nature corners and spots here.
Enjoy your weekend.

Anonymous said...

Oh just looking at your posts makes me want to drop everything and pick up some knitting needles!

Anonymous said...

I love your posts, and this one especially! I have been working on nature table creations at home and at my school for about 9 months now. I have a question about your nature table work though.

Do you allow your children to play with the nature table items that are "on display" or are they just for looking at. I let my students play with the things on the table, but as a result, small items sometimes get misplaced. Also my littlest student sometimes get a little rambunctious with the items.

Thank you for any advice you can give! It is very much appreciated!

Tan Family said...

Hi Karen! Great question. When the kids were younger, they did play with the items a bit and then I would re-organize it. Now that they are older (7, 11, 14), it's not an issue, but they also are able to help more with creating the nature table and sometimes create the whole area themselves!

I think that some playing is fine, as the nature table is something to not only be appreciated, but celebrated! Modeling ways to incorporate the nature table items with playing and building, and then putting them back should work well. And, if you notice that particular items are constantly played with, perhaps take those out for a while and keep with other toys, and replace with other objects from outdoors. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Thank you!