There is so much to learn from a Winter Waldorf Nature Table. The integration of the senses, things to touch, smell and see, can be a wonderful way to help children follow their fascination with the natural world.
What is a Waldorf Nature Table?
It can be anything at all, as long as the children can connect with the objects and scene created on the table. I like our nature tables to represent the current natural season. We begin by observing what is happening outside in the natural world and then we explore and search for items that we can use on our nature table. Our nature table is always changing, even within a season, as treasures are found or created. Each precious thing is placed on the nature table, moved, rearranged, played with, it is always an invitation to explore, to gain deeper understanding or meaning to the changes around us.
A nature table allows children to study nature without getting too technical or disengaged from the wonder of it all.
Our Winter Waldorf Nature Table
Our nature table came to be after our little nature adventurers went exploring at our local arboretum. We gathered bark, pine cones, some twigs and tree branches. Then we headed back to create our winter nature table.
We draped a blue play silk over our wooden tree and attached several snowflakes.
Later that evening, I hand stitched King Winter and our Root Babies from wooden peg dolls and felt. A touch of sparkle was added with some embroidery and gum nut caps for hats were glued on. Our pine cone gnomes, created last year, were added and our wonderful winter scene was complete.
Our winter Waldorf nature table is a reflection of winter as we experience it here on the south-west coast of Western Australia in the months of June, July and August. It doesn’t snow here and we don’t get frost but we do experience cold. We have used snowflakes to symbolise cold and the association with winter. To help the children in their understanding of winter, I tell them this verse during our Circle Time:
Deep in the earth buried so deep
A dear little plant lay fast asleep
Sleep little plant so snug and warm
Sleep little plant all winter long
The little plant slept so warm and tight
While King Winter raged with all his might
What can be included on the Waldorf Winter Nature Table?
Nature’s treasures – collected from the garden, on a walk, at the park, down at the beach… leaves, twigs, seed pods, shells, dried grasses, flowers, rocks are all good choices.
Animals and figures – these items bring the nature table to life and can made by the children. Look for objects made from natural materials, wood, stone, beeswax, felted, sewn or finger knitted. Avoid plastic and branded characters, however, if your child’s interest leads to the collection of plastic farm, sea, zoo animals on the nature table, go with it. After all the idea here is to explore the world and the child’s interest in it!
Fabric – we like play silks but burlap, hessian, cotton and other natural fibres would work well. Look for colours that represent the seasons and textures add interest, too.
Items to create levels – rocks or tree blocks; drape the fabric over them or leave uncovered.
I maintain the nature table and keep it inviting. I subtly change things as the seasons turn and provide opportunity for new things to be wondered about, added and imagined. I use items from the table to tell a story with and encourage the children to do the same.
Share your nature table and inspire others on Instagram or Facebook. Use hashtag #naturetable and tag @playfulmatters