Waldorf Resources for the Early Years
By Renee Gaul
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
Snow White and Rose Red
The Elves and the Shoemaker
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!
Renee Gaul lives in rural Colorado with her dear husband and two wonderful daughters. They are a Waldorf homeschooling family enjoying a life full of learning, creating, and adventures in the forest. Renee shares some of their days at her blog, Heirloom Seasons.