Thursday, June 7, 2018

Little Red Hen Baking Party Notes

Zac and I had a lovely experience at the Waldorf School of St. Louis, with Miss Erin, and we were fortunate that the early childhood program was having a Little Red Hen Baking Party the morning of his birthday. We took the drive up there (two hours for us) and I took a few notes.

Miss Erin has obviously been baking with the children for a long time! As we came into the room, she had a basin of soapy water and a basin of fresh water and a pile of hand towels, and she sang "This is the way we wash our hands" to the tune of "Here we go 'round the mulberry bush." We all washed our hands and sat down.

Then she spread a little bit of flour on the table in front of each child and told them they could draw pictures in it. That was so sweet... I had never seen that idea before.

She had made a yeasted dough with a combination of whole wheat flour and spelt flour, and it had already done its first rise. She punched it down and divided it evenly into roll-size pieces. While she was doing this she sang a song which was a variation of "Five brown buns in the baker's shop, warm and good with honey on the top." She started with the number of children which were actually there, and included each child's name as she sang the verses counting down the buns as they disappear from the baker's shop, as every child brings a penny and buys a bun and eats it right away. So the children heard their own names in the song and felt noticed and important.

Miss Erin gave each of us a roll-sized piece of bread dough and sprinkled some more flour on our table, and sang "This is the way we knead the bread" and we all kneaded our rolls. While we were kneading she sang a really pretty song that I hadn't heard before, "Behind the dough, is the flour. Behind the flour, is the grain. Behind the grain, is the sun and rain. And then it starts, all over again." When we were done kneading, she showed us how to roll it into a bun and we put them on the baking pans and she put them aside and passed out warm damp washcloths, which they used as cleaning cloths, and sang, "This is the way we wash the table." And we all helped wash the table and put our dirty cloths in the hamper.

While the bread was having its second rise, it was circle time. We met on the rug and she had two morning verses and several songs. She had a worm finger play which I didn't write down. Then she did the song "Five little ducks went out one day" and she had needle felted five little ducklings and tied strings to them and had them hanging on a stick, like the mobiles in the Christel Dhom book.

As she sang each verse, she gave a little duckling to a child in the circle. At the end when the ducklings all come back home, we gave our ducklings back to her. Then she sang a song to welcome the story fairy (this is in the Acorn Hill book Let Us Form a Ring). She had a tree stump with a candle on it and her matches were in a little wooden box. She moved the tree stump to be in front of her in the circle, sang a candle lighting song, and lit the candle. I really liked how she did her puppetry. She had a green silk in her basket with the puppets inside and the green silk covering them up. As she unfolded the silk to reveal the puppets, the silk became the backdrop to the story. She did the story of the Little Red Hen.

At the end of the story, she said the verse "Snip Snap Snout, My tale's told out" and then she silently did the motions (scissors snipping, fingers snapping, and then she touched the tip of her nose). And she wrapped the puppets back up in their green silk, folded the cloth over them, put them in the basket, set it behind her, and blew out the candle. Then she had the needle felted Little Red Hen go around and whisper in each child's ear the invitation to play. She had two playstands with cloths on them barring the entrance to the play part of the room. When it was play time, she rotated the playstands so that we could go in, and moved them to a separate part of the room and spread the cloths over them. I loved the play room because it was extremely simple, even by Waldorf standards.  The blocks were so sturdy that you could build structures and then stand on them, and she laid a board between two other play stands so that kids could have some climbing time. There was also a boat.

While the kids were playing she popped the bread into the oven. It spelled wonderful as it was baking.

When it was time to clean up she sang a variation on the "Dusty the Gnome" song ("Dusty the gnome, he likes a clean home, so let's tidy our home, for Dusty the gnome") and we tidied up. Then we washed hands again, helped set the table, and she had several verses before the meal, culminating in "Here are Grandma's spectacles" and so the kids ended up with their hands in their laps. We also sang "Blessings on the blossom" as the grace. The bread was delicious and she had little bowls with honey AND butter in them which we could use to serve ourselves. It was so pretty!

There was a candle lighting song when she lit the candle before the meal, and a verse to thank the candle for its light after the meal, and all of the children helped to blow the candle out together.

Miss Erin was so nice because she gave Zac the flowers from the center of the table for his birthday. We also got to see the outdoor play spaces when our baking party was done, and shop in the little gift store. They had a ton of colors of Stockmar block beeswax crayons (and I got him the yellow-green) as well as some extremely pretty beeswax crayon holders from Etsy seller FromJennifer.

Here are a few photos:

I'm guessing this is a cob bread oven!

herb beds on the playground for sensory play

come on, Mom!

butter and honey for our warm brown bread

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