In the Waldorf elementary classroom we use imagination to reach the students we teach. Instead of teaching new ideas to children about the natural world around them as a series of facts, we tell them stories. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, believed that children learn best through pictorial representation; as Waldorf teachers we present much of the curriculum through story with many valuable facts imbedded in the narrative and description. The following is a sampling of a nature story I composed in my Waldorf curriculum class for kindergarten or first grade to explain the change of seasons from fall to winter.
The sun faded and the days had started to get shorter. The trees all around began to sing sweet melodies to Grandmother Wind. When the trees sang, beautiful colors appeared on them: crimson, rust, orange, gold and lemon yellow. These colors then awakened the leaf children who loved to frolic and play with Grandmother Wind. One of their favorite games was to see how long they could float in the sky with Grandmother Wind, before they would eventually tumble to the earth below. However, as the days became shorter the leaf children could not play as long during the day and began to argue about who would play when and where. When Grandmother Wind heard them bickering she was sad at the sight of their arguing.
“Have patience dear children. It is important your playing days are shorter now and you will soon know why.”
“When will we know why Grandmother Wind?” they uttered back.
“You will know soon enough,” she answered reassuringly.
And so it was that the leaf children kept playing and trusted that Grandmother Wind knew why their playing days were getting shorter and shorter. As the days continued many of the leaf children noticed they were tired more easily and did not want to play as long. The leaf children felt content to lie on the earth’s floor, because it felt soft and warm to them. They watched Silvia the Squirrel gather nuts and hide them in strange spots all over the meadow. The leaf children’s game now was to count all of the places Silvia hid her nuts. So, their play changed from that of the sky to that of the earth. When Grandmother Wind saw they were all comfortable lying on the earth she knew it was time to talk to them.
“Your blanket over the earth is very important,” she whispered to them. “Now Father Winter will know it is time for him to come. And soon enough he will tell the snow fairies it is their time to come. Without your help he would not know. Thank you leaf children, you are so dear to me.”
Just then Grandmother Wind moved more strongly about as she felt Father Winter approaching.