Waldorf Teachers Share What Works
Winter is coming in the Northern Hemisphere. December will be full of busy workdays in my classroom as we work to get this semester’s projects heading home. But there will still be space to do some story telling. I’ll be turning to “All Creation Waits, The Advent Mystery of New Beginnings, by Gayle Boss” to round out my stories.
Reading for Waldorf Winter
My favorite story from the collection
is about how turtles overwinter and I’ll tell it to my fifth grade class. First, I’ll remind them that when I was their Kinder teacher, we would load up the red wagon with muffins and head out to build forts in the fairy woods. But on the way home, if it was a warm spring day we would stop to see the turtles in the pond. It is too cold for the turtles to be sunning themselves on the pond now. In fact, “one day in the fall, as water and air cooled, at some precise temperature an ancient bell sounded in the turtle brain. A signal: Take a deep breath.” and dove down to the bottom of the pond to wait in the muck. That deep breath will be the last time they will breath until spring. They will use up the calcium in their bones to make it through the dark winter. They are down there now at the bottom of the pond….waiting.
Gayle Boss has lots of other details about turtles so I can adjust which details to share based on which class I am teaching. But I always talk about the expectant waiting and watching that nature (and people) experience in the winter. On Gayle’s website she has great drawings and a short video introducing the book this description of the season:
Advent is the season of dwindling light and gathering cold – with a mystery at its core. Animals of the northern hemisphere enact that mystery. Watching them, we can find a way to face our primal fear of dark and cold, a healthier way than falling into depression or spiraling into frenzied distraction.Gayle Boss, All Creation Waits
How to use in Handwork and Woodwork
Each of the stories have a living quality that I think make it a good fit for a classroom inspired by Waldorf pedagogy. Plus they are memorable! So many times during the year I will reference something I read in the book during another block. These memorable stories make me sound like an expert and can be just the detail I need to bring a class along with whatever connection I am trying to help them make.
It is fun to describe how a squirrel builds its nest during a Middle School Woodworking tree identification walk or to talk about the beaver’s home while working at the river to weave baskets. When the Boxelder Bugs appeared in our classroom, I was inspired to learn all about how those insects overwinter and this led to a Faculty Sharing session I led to expand our knowledge about all the little creatures our students see everyday in our school yard.
Another benefit I find for using these stories to spark my storytelling? Students seem to connect deeply with the animals and this compassion is an inner experience I want students to develop from my work with them. Compassion for others and compassion for themselves.
If you are entering into the oldest (and coldest!) season, you might warm up your winter stories for the classroom with this lovely addition to advent.
What works for you? Teachers using Waldorf Methods to teach through practical arts and crafts are invited to submit a post by email for this series.