Sunday, May 22, 2011

Waldorf Early Years Resources


I am sometimes asked what we do for kindergarten, what curriculum we use, etc...

I have been intending for a while now to write a post sharing some of our favorite Waldorf books and resources. And since my youngest child will be turning 7 in just a couple days, leaving these earliest years behind, it seems now would be a good time to get this post done...

I wrote a bit here about our daily rhythm as a family and as homeschoolers. As far as kindergarten goes we are very unofficial and do not use a curriculum. This is just our life. But we do have some favorite books that have accompanied us through the years and helped to enrich our days.

(As you may know, books are among my most favorite things ever. Our little Waldorf home library makes me very happy. There are many more books I could mention. But please realize that even just a few of these wonderful books will serve you well, and our collection actually grew quite slowly over the past 6 years.)

Story time is a big part of our every day. I will admit that stories in our home are more often read out loud than told from memory, though I would encourage you to try to at least sometimes bring the story directly from yourself to your child. Some favorite Kindergarten stories we told over the years I have handwritten into a special notebook.

Though many people may think the original Grimm's fairy tales are just that, grimm to say the least, even violent in many cases, there are many wonderful stories that I feel are so important for our children to experience. Of course you need to use your best judgement and know what is appropriate for your child (so many stories are too much, too intense for my sensitive Chloe, even still at 10 years old. But she now picks up this book and read freely on her own, they have truly nourished her over the years..)

Some original Grimm's stories that can be more suitable for 5/6 year olds, ones that we have enjoyed together, are...

The Frog Prince
Mother Holle
Snow White and Rose Red
The Elves and the Shoemaker
Sweet Porridge
Star Money
The Golden Goose
The Queen Bee
Little Briar Rose

Actually most of these stories Chessa experienced during her K years but for Chloe some of them were not told until her first grade year during our fairy tales/letters block.

Another favorite resource for not just stories but also songs and poems are the Wynstones seasonal books. These are particularly suited to the K years, and I always appreciated knowing that the stories would be gentle enough for my young children. These books can also help give you a good sense of how to tell a story, and there is lots of repetition that delights little ones. Some of these stories will be familiar to you from your childhood... Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the Three Billy Goats Gruff. There are sweet little nature stories as well as stories related to traditional Waldorf festivals.

A Child's Seasonal Treasury is a beautiful book with verses, songs, and simple seasonal crafts and activities. I think it may be out of print though.

I just love the watercolor painting on the cover!

The Children's Year is full of so many sweet (and mostly simple) crafts and handwork projects to make with or for your children. (Toymaking with Children is another great one.) The other two books will guide you through the Waldorf festivals of the year. If I could only choose one to have it would probably be All Year Round, it goes into most detail for the festivals and has beautiful crafts.

Chloe especially loves The Waldorf Kindergarten Snack Book. The recipes are simple enough for her to follow on her own and the illustrations are inspiring. Remember, Chloe wants to be a Waldorf K teacher when she grows up, she has even created her own menu pages (lovingly illustrated) based on this book.

Baking Bread with Children is newer to us and definitely a favorite.

Besides valuable information on technique and recipes, the book includes stories, songs, poems, and blessings. The first chapter is on what baking bread brings to children. There is also a chapter on the seven grains and nutrition.

A Lifetime of Joy by Bronja Zahlingen is a book that seems to be not so well known, but I think it is exceptionally wonderful! It is one of the books we have had the longest and one that is most loved! So many stories, songs, verses, circle games and plays for puppets.

First chapters include "In Praise of Early Childhood", "Movement, Gesture and Language in the Life of the Young Child", and "The Pedagogical Value of Marionette and Table Puppet Shows for the Small Child".

Let Us Form a Ring (Acorn Hill Anthology) has a favorite "orchard" circle time that we have been doing for many years, along with many more great ones. There is a second book called Dancing As We Sing that includes more spring and summer circles. Movement Journeys and Circle Adventures is another one I like very much. Most of the circles are longer and more involved but you can start out shorter and add to them over the weeks that you continue the same circle. You can learn a lot about how circle time breathes and flows from both of these books.

And one last favorite resource to share for now, Sing a Song of Seasons by Mary Thienes Schunemann. We also love Lavenders Blue Dilly Dilly and This is the Way We Wash a Day. These books/cd's will bring so much song into your lives! Recently we have even started listening to the actual cd's, but only after singing the songs myself with the girls for many years before. Even Jason (husband) can be caught humming or singing nursery rhyme tunes throughout the day!

I will also mention a few online resources...

Lisa from Celebrate the Rhythm of Life has created wonderful monthly guides as well as a new online magazine called The Wonder of Childhood.

Marsha Johnson has a yahoo group where she shares all kinds of Waldorf wisdom with an especially great files section. I suggest searching the files for the articles "A Week in the Home Kindergarten" as well as "Please Do Not "Home School" Your K Child!"

Donna Simmons has a nice book called "Kindergarten With Your Three to Six Year Old". She also has written some very good early years post on her blog, including some very opinionated "early years rants", which I love.

Well, of course I could go on and on. I have favorite handwork books I could share, favorite Waldorf child development books (Beyond the Rainbow Bridge, The Incarnating Child), favorite personal development books (The Spiritual Tasks of the Homemaker, Homemaking as a Social Art)... See I can't stop myself...

And I don't know if I'm ready to leave these early years behind!!!

(p.s. I am editing this to add one more resource, Little Acorn Learning.
I haven't ever actually used the materials myself but from what I have
heard from others and can see on her website and sample pages I think it looks very lovely. If you felt you needed more specific guidance it seems like this could be very nice and helpful.)



Anonymous said...

lovely of you to share this information with us all. i so enjoyed reading it .x

Aussie Boy said...

Thank you for sharing such great resources.

Lynnette said...

What a wealth of information. Thank you for reminding us that you collected these over the years and not all at once.

a little crafty nest said...

Dear Renee...What a lovely post, one I'm sure many will come back to. I know you can believe this, but I have all but two of these books and cherish them just as you do. And I have that exact edition of the Grimm's which I had thought of using for this week's yarn-along as I'm wading through it to find the right stories for my big boy. I, too, am keeping notes...oh dear, I wish we were closer to share these ideas easier. Anyhow, I am going to link up to this, if you don't's fantastic! Hugs to you,
xo Jules

sheepish said...

I am so with you. I love the early years...have been through them three times, and would love to be there once again.

Mama Ash Grove said...

Dear Renee, this is such a wonderful post!
I have all these books too, and love them probably as much as you do- except for the baking bread one (one I would like to get) and the other "A Lifetime of Joy" which I had never heard of!

karen said...

thankyou for the ideas, some of these I havent seen before and would like to get

softearthart said...

Many thanks for sharing, cheers Marie

Cynthia said...

Great list thanks for sharing, I am reading Beyond the Rainbow Bridge now, and we are using All year Round to guide our sesonal celebrations but I now have some more resources to create more traditions.

Nicole FrontierDreams said...

These are all such wonderful resources... perhaps a little bit of some Ingalls needs to be added though. hee,hee.

Julia said...

What a great resource! Literally just what I have been searching for. Thank you for sharing.

Heather said...

Thank you for these great resources, I see some new ones here that I had not come across, and it is always nice to explore new education tools. Hope all is well.

Nicola said...

Thanks for directing me over here, Renee!