Tell me about Nature Tables - Mothering Forums
Waldorf > Tell me about Nature Tables
bionicsquirrel's Avatar bionicsquirrel 03:56 AM 02-04-2005
Hi, I have looked into Waldorf some and the beauty of it really appeals to me, but I am not sold yet. I have some time though, ds is only 2.

There is one thing that I hear mentioned a lot: Nature Tables.

I get the gist of what a nature table is...a table where you display things found in nature, things that represent the seasons etc. What I don't get is the Waldorfness of this. What is the tenet behind this? how do I get started? What do I talk about with my son? Finally, could you share some of your experiences with nature tables?


bionicsquirrel's Avatar bionicsquirrel 07:40 PM 02-04-2005
Someone has got to know about nature tables...anyone?
Mom4tot's Avatar Mom4tot 11:11 PM 02-04-2005
Our nature table is the top of a small dresser that holds hs supplies. It is painted blue. I have a playsilk down and change the colors for the season. We have a few things that stay on the nature table permamntly...some fairies we made, seashells and a rainbow fairy house.

We collect leaves in the fall, pinecones, flowers, moss...and the kids love making up stories there. My children play with ours and add to it as we go. I also have small waldorf postcards on a stand there.

The nice thing about nature tables is they are so individual~ you can use the colors and items that inspire you
The Hidden Life's Avatar The Hidden Life 01:01 AM 02-05-2005
I do not keep a nature table, but I do own some things (figures) that were created for a Waldorf nature table. Other than the natural items that you already mentioned, which hopefully are collected by the child and parent/teacher themselves on a nature walk, often figures and silk scarves and wool roving are used to create a scene. These scenes can be simple or elaborate, using one figure or many, however you like. If you go to (click US/UK option) you will see many different handmade felt or knitted figures. Sometimes they are just representational of the different seasons or plants that bloom in a season, other times they are characters from Waldorf stories. So you might tell a story while introducing your child to the table or area you've set up to explain what the different things represent or how they fit into whatever you're studying.

Now, I'm a Catholic, not a Waldorf parent, but I like a lot of the handicrafts associated with Waldorf. I think nature tables are a little bit like altars except that usually (so far as I know) one does not make petitions of prayer before a nature table. Otherwise, I find they are very similar, especially for the Waldorf family that does not otherwise participate in conventional religion. The reverence for nature, the symbolic figures, the collected objects, candles, these are a universal theme for world religions. I have a crucifix, and statues of Mary and Joseph and Jesus in my home that I keep up year round. My Waldorf figures I change seasonally but don't group them into any one area of the house. They are just decorative for me. I really appreciate the sweetness and cheerfulness of them, plus that they are handmade.

See also for some good ideas. BTW, the popular "Nature Tables" book (by Petra somebody?) I did not find to be very interesting unless you are actually wanting to make the figures yourself.

Hope that helps,
bionicsquirrel's Avatar bionicsquirrel 01:14 AM 02-05-2005
Joan, do you base this on Waldorf beliefs, or is it more of an homage to nature? I know that Waldorf celebrates a few holiday that are different than the norm (can't recall the names, I am still learning) Do you honor these holidays on your nature table?
BusyBee's Avatar BusyBee 11:42 PM 02-06-2005
I don't know the anthroposophical reasons for nature tables. I could guess and say that it is a way of bringing the conscienceness of natural processes into our houses and into the imaginations of our children. The nature tables I have seen in waldorf parent's houses seen to be of two types 1.) a table decorated with natural objects collected by the parents and children, and 2.) a table decorated with personifications of nature ie. a puppet of mother earth and her root children, natural objects are usually included but not always. I have seen "nature" tables with silk sky and grass, cloth dolls, felt flowers, papermache eggs etc.. This leads me to beleive that it is really about imaginative aspect of the seasons rather the litteral reverence for natural objects. Most kids don't seem to be very interested in nature tables unless there is some sort of evolving story that goes along with it. For instance during the advent season, the Mary and Joseph dolls start out on a window sill and take a journey and slowly get closer and closer to the stable at the nature table. I see it almost like a visual aid for the early childhood "curriculum".

We have a nature table on the top of the kids dresser in their room. I pinned up a piece of blue cloth on the wall. The kids and I went outside and collected moss and put it on the table (with a tin-foil protecting layer at the bottom) Pinned an evergreen branch to the wall for a tree, found white sea glass to represent ice and such, I made a doll whom we call "Mrs. Thaw" I told a story about how she comes out of her cave with her broom to sweep away the snow and ice and make ready for spring. Soon we will go outside and pick little flowers like daisies and add them. We just keep on changing the table to reflect the seasons. The kids seem more aware of the seasons since we have been doing this.
AppleOrangePear's Avatar AppleOrangePear 02:35 AM 02-07-2005
HI we have a lil area for a natural table for our son Kai (15 months) of course we dont put very small pieces on it.. We are pretty much into Waldorf ways.. We have a chalkboard painted in our kitchen and i change it with the seasons too.. we celebrate pretty much all holidays traditional and the seasonal .. ( just got done celebrating imbolc/groundhog day) i think its neat to go beyond the norm and celebrate everything lol.. even national give a hug day.. they help with the rhythm of the day. i know this is about nature tables however a great book you may want to read is Beyond the rainbow bridge from birth to seven........

UH OH I better fix my lil posties or whatever they are called Moderater wants me to make it shorter LOL now if i can only remember how lol
bionicsquirrel's Avatar bionicsquirrel 04:54 AM 02-07-2005
Wow! Thank you all for your comments, it is giving me a lot to think about. I do love the idea of bringing the cycles of nature into my house and ds and I already go on nature walks and such. It just never occurred to me until recently that we could set up a "table" to honor the things we find.

I just found a beautiful bird's nest in a fallen tree and I think this will be our first nature table item.

thanks again.
Mom4tot's Avatar Mom4tot 12:19 PM 02-07-2005
Originally Posted by bionicsquirrel
Joan, do you base this on Waldorf beliefs, or is it more of an homage to nature? I know that Waldorf celebrates a few holiday that are different than the norm (can't recall the names, I am still learning) Do you honor these holidays on your nature table?
bionicsquirrel~ sorry, I am just getting back to this thread. We started our nature table when Ellie and I participated in a Waldorf playgroup. I have always had an affinity for nature, so I suppose I was drawn to Waldorf by this love. Ellie shared it and loved our nature walks. We have used the nature table to celebrate the changing seasons, our imagination and to bring natural elements into our play.

We do celebrate some holidays we learned about at Waldorf, like Martinmas, and we will put our seasonal items there, the lantern or Mary's Star Path. Ellie likes th table for it's imaginative quality. Sometimes we put small baskets to hold the seashells or gemstones or even small flowers. Ellie acts out stories of feeding the fairies or animals hibernating in winter.

The birds nest sounds perfect! We still have a nest from last year on the table. Periodically, I clean it up and change the playsilk underneath or add a drawing. They are just pretty to look at, too
Rhonwyn's Avatar Rhonwyn 10:36 PM 02-07-2005
We have a pretty elaborate nature table with plants, wool figures and things the children have found on walks. The figures change with the seasons. My children like the root children the best of all.

Unfortunately, our new cats have a love for wool and feathers so are nature table is rather barren right now.

I use the nature table to help the children connect to the seasons and the holidalys of the year.