Our winter seasonal table/shelf is pretty simple right now. Sola insisted that we should not use any silks to decorate it for winter. In addition, between the holidays and the weather, we have not had a chance to go on any nature outings recently, so we have no pieces of nature added to the table. I thought I would show you a closer look at the individual items we put out on our seasonal table and let you know where we got them from. I would like to state that our nature table plays a big part of our preschool and kindergarten education, so it is something that I have sunk the most money into (I have no curriculum books or workbooks for Sola and will not buy any for two more years). We use the items on our seasonal to discuss the flow of the seasons, to set the mood in our “classroom”, as story telling props, as things for Sola to explore, as a place to store finds from nature walks, and more. It is the primary focus of the room.
You may not feel so strongly about your seasonal/nature table and not be interested in any of the items that I about to share and that is okay. Each family first needs to decide if they even want a nature/seasonal table. Then they need to decide what type of nature/seasonal table they want, and from there, you can decide what you want to display, where the display will be, and how much money or time you want to spend on it. Not to mention, you need to decide how often you want to rotate it. We rotate ours on the solstices and equinoxes, but the display grows throughout the season as we add more finds. Ironically, the shelf we use for our nature/seasonal table is actually a shelf leftover from our Montessori days. If you are feeling at a loss about starting a nature or seasonal table, the book The Nature Corner: Celebrating the Year’s Cycle with a Seasonal Tableau is a good book to peruse to get some ideas.
Front and center, we have our winter fairy (we bought one fairy for each season). I won’t lie, these dolls are expensive, but I used good coupons and bought them over a period of time. Also, as so much of our learning revolves around the seasons right now, I considered them to be a long term investment. We are currently using them for seasonal table decorations for our second year. Plus Sola really enjoys playing with them. In fact, she often puts on outdoor “plays” for me, where she pretends to be each fairy and sings and dances in the way that she feels that fairy would.The other fairy doll that we have is a Kathe Kruse fairy doll. Sola added her to the table, because she said she is a snow fairy. She may well be a snow fairy, for as much as I can remember, but we tend to use her as fairy godmother. We have a fairly large collection of Kathy Kruse dolls. I started purchasing them for Sola’s doll house, but then liked them so much, I bought several more to use for story telling.
Next, we have our seasonal peg gnomes. The one on the left is the January gnome. I made all of the monthly gnomes, because I couldn’t find any anywhere else. The blue gnome is a days-of-the-week gnome, which I also made. The snow gnome I purchased as a set of weather gnomes from the Etsy store Wild Faerie Caps. Unfortunately, she does not appear to have any gnomes currently available. If you are interested in learning to make peg dolls, gnomes, or otherwise, I highly recommend the book Making Peg Dolls, by Margaret Bloom.
We have several Waldorf postcards on our seasonal table. You can purchase these in sets from several Waldorf stores, but I found the easiest place to buy them from is from a Dutch store, called Waldorf Toys. Their shipping is reasonable, they are very friendly and helpful, and you can buy just the cards you like, instead of paying for full sets, which might contain several cards that you don’t like. I have a variety of postcard holders, some hang on the wall, some just hold cards, and some contain candles also. I bought our postcard holders from Waldorf Toys, other Waldorf stores, and Etsy stores.
I try to include some Ostheimer wooden animals, which I usually buy from Wooden Wagon, on all of our displays. I usually try to use animals that we might find in the woods in our area during a particular season, but Sola was insistent that she wanted only to display our polar bears. The wooden animals are another area that I have sunk some money into. In addition to using them for our seasonal displays, we use them for story telling props, and doll house/farm animals, and just for general play. They are also one of the few toys that I plan to save for my grandchildren.
Each season, I include some gems that I feel represent the current season. Honestly, I usually choose the gems based on their colors. Usually, I leave them out loose on the shelf, so that Sola can explore them, but these particular gems pieces are pretty sharp and I didn’t want them to end up on the floor and cut someone’s foot. Sola can still explore them, but she must put them away as soon as she is done. These gems also often get incorporated into doll play and story telling as treasure or magical stones. Some of the gems will even find their way into our fairy garden in the spring. I usually buy my gems from Etsy merchants and I don’t spend much on these. I don’t need rubies when I can buy garnets for red stones and so forth. Eventually, these gems will become a starting point for a study of rocks and gems, when Sola is farther along in her education.
The wooden scenery sets that I have for each season come from the Etsy store, The Enchanted Cupboard.
Finally, I always have a wooden stacker on our seasonal display that I feel reflects the season. My favorite stackers are Grimm’s Spiel und Holz Design’s, as their stacker pieces are nice and wide, so the stackers don’t fall over very easily (plus they make cool tunnels for cars and little dolls to go through when playing with them). These can be found on Amazon, at the Wooden Wagon, and from a variety of other retailers. Unfortunately, they don’t have stackers that I feel represent each season, so for other stackers, I turn to….you guessed it!… and Etsy store, Imagination Kids.
And that’s it. We will certainly be starting to add nature trinkets that Sola finds on our walks.