After three plus years of organizing and leading weekly circle times for the 0-7 year old set, I have definitely developed favorite resources. Recently, friends (and strangers) have been asking me what those resources are.
I use what appears to be common resources for Waldorf kindgergartens and parent-toddler groups, as the songs and handplays are often repeated throughout, and also match the materials I originally got from a Waldorf teacher.
I meet with my forest kindergarten twice a week. Many of the songs, blessings, and transitions stay the same throughout the year. At the beginning of each month, I change out 4-6 songs and handplays in the opening circle. Closing circle is always the same. Since I’ve begun working with Earthroots, I’ve been incorporating even more songs about nature, and less about fairies, gnomes, and elves (even though, personally, I find those magical creatures delightful and stimulating to the young child’s curiosity and imagination).
Betty Jones’ A Child’s Seasonal Treasury is my first go-to resource. The book begins with all-year round verses and poems and then movement and drama, including four that I use regularly: a mealtime blessing, a goodbye song and movement, and a morning song. While all four songs and movements were originally introduced to me orally by a Waldorf teacher, it was a relief to find the musical notation and also the described motions. The rest of the book is organized seasonally with poems, songs and even simple crafts and recipes. This large hard cover book can appear to be expensive online (new $100+), but if you are patient, you can find a used copy for under $30 on amazon.
I try and include at least one pentatonic song from Elisabeth Lebret’s Pentatonic Songs for nursery, kindergarten and grades 1 and 2, every month. It’s a challenge to learn a new song every month, but I like having the opportunity to stretch myself, and try not to overly rely on the much over-played conventional songs (Itsy Bitsy Spider; Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, etc). And underneath their groans, I imagine that my fellow mamas are appreciating the exposure to new songs too.
I also love to open up my very old copy of the Waldorf-inspired first grade homeschool curriculum by Oak Meadow. There are lots of joyful movements and sweet handplays in there. More recently, I have also been pulling from another Waldorf-inspired kindegarten homeschooling curriculum by Enki. I adapt the words to match the flora and fauna of southern California (“great stork” becomes “blue heron” and “wild lion” becomes “mountain lion”). And I have been known to look over a friend’s shoulder and learn a song or too from Waldorf homeschooling curriculum Live Education. (Mamas: these are three excellent Waldorf homeschooling curriculum programs.)
Earthroots just purchased a new songbook, which I discovered had (joy!) the music and lyrics to a number of songs that I have already been using (This is my Trunk, I’m a Tall, Tall Tree is the first song). I think I will be using many more of Mary Thienes Schunemann’s compiled and original songs in Sing a Song of Seasons. Even better, the book comes with a CD and every song is sung for you. She completed an entire series of songbooks before she passed away of cancer. I think we need This is the Way We Wash-a-Day also.
I use songs from Sing Through the Seasons for Martinamas every year.
There is a Waldorf homeschooling yahoo discussion board I follow (yahoo.com/group/waldorfhomeeducators/) and sometimes, Mrs. M, the moderator posts some, or the community members share. That’s where I first came across, My while horses walk peaceful and slow…
Of course I collect verses and movements somewhat randomly too. My neighbor taught me “The Noble Duke of York” (but since then I’ve found it my own resources too!) and I adapted it to be a marching movement, instead of a lap game for infants.
One that I haven’t gotten yet, but I will soon, is The Waldorf Poetry Book. It doesn’t have songs, but bits of poetry and verse to memorize. I like to start each circle with a short (or longer) seasonal verse. It’s on my wish list, both personally, and for Earthroots.
I’m sure there is a resource I have missed, but the advantage to writing cybernetically is that text can and does change and shift fluidly. I have many other resources that I have not mentioned here that are surely excellent, but have not needed to delve into them yet.
If you have the resources I’ve mentioned above, you will have more than enough material for teaching a weekly circle for a good long time.
Note to my forest kindergarten mamas: If you own any of these resources and have favorite songs and movements, please let me know!