Thursday, February 21, 2019

February - Woodcutter Circle

Here are a few notes from our week of Woodcutter Fun!

We continued with our Songs, Verses & Movement for classroom routines.

Circle Time

There are 17 verse & movement elements in our Woodcutter Circle (download as a PDF from the link), so I kept our opening portion short.


The younger children were very interested in watching the older (6 years) make his own pair of knitting needles. Knitting stuffed animals is all the rage among the elementary school students, and Waldorf children always learn to knit before learning to read! We also had lots of fun in our Circle time doing my newly-created Woodcutter Circle. I concluded it with a new poem I found, "Timber," by an anonymous poet.

    With oak the old-time ships were laid,
    The round-back chairs of ash were made.
    Of birch the brooms to sweep the floor,
    The furniture was sycamore.
    Clogs were of alder, bows of yew,
    And fishing rods of bright bamboo.
    Willow was used for cricket bats,
    And oak again for tubs and vats.
    Of pine the roof beams and the floor
    Or for the window frame and door.
    Elm made a wagon or a cart,
    And maple was for carver's art.
    Beech was for bowls, pipes were of briar.
    Many a wood would make a fire.
    But in the cottage or the hall,
    Ash made the brightest fire of all.

After I read "Timber," I told the children what kind of wood the new knitting needles were made of: bamboo. There are many interesting steps involved in turning plain bamboo cake-stacking dowels into homemade needles:

  • sharpen one end in a pencil sharpener
  • sand thoroughly with several grits of sandpaper
  • smooth gently with all-natural beeswax polish
  • glue a tiny acorn cap onto the flat end
  • jab pointed end in a ball of yarn and let it dry upright overnight


I noticed how interested the children were in sandpaper yesterday so I purchased some driftwood from the craft store (it would be nice if I still lived on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay!) and set up two art trays. We passed around and felt different grits of sandpaper from coarser to finer, and I explained that the sand and water of the beach works just like sandpaper and helps to smooth the roughness off branches and sticks. We felt the driftwood. Then I gave them plenty of time to use our sandpaper to sand the driftwood even smoother.

At the end of the morning we added the basket of our driftwood pieces to the playstands as a new natural toy. We also used the driftwood as rhythm sticks in our Circle, tapping them together to the Woodpecker song.

Note: If you want driftwood and aren't by a beach, pet stores also sell pieces in varying sizes for reptile habitats.

Montessori early childhood classrooms have an entire category of "Sensorial" curriculum materials for the development of many different senses (Tactile, Olfactory, Gustatory, Auditory, Baric, Stereognostic, Thermic, and Visual). Our classroom does not have the Rough Gradation Tablets or the Smooth Gradation Tablets but I do have the Rough and Smooth Boards Set and the Smooth Gradation Board and the children closed their eyes and felt them. The tactile sense is so important and lays the foundation for writing later on.


In keeping with our discussion of trees, I asked the children to look carefully at the tiles of my kitchen floor and guess what kind of wood they were. They had many good guesses, but the answer was cork! I passed around some corks for them to look at up close and explained that cork is the bark layer of a special kind of tree. We don't find it growing here, but it grows in Europe. (Apparently, the cork oak can be grown in the U.S. in Zones 8-11 as well!)

I showed them how to do texture rubbings with block beeswax crayons and then they were given crayons and paper if they wanted to do Bark Rubbings of the trees in my yard at recess. When they came in we also looked at the texture of my rain sticks, which are made from pieces of cactus wood!

And, of course, today was also Stone Soup Day. Here was our list of group contributions this week:

sweet potato
homemade lamb bone broth

The children have asked me if we can have a day when they all bring in a fruit to share. So, we would like on the Thursday when we come back from Spring Break (that will be Thursday March 21st) to do a Fruit Salad / Smoothie Day in honor of the start of Spring! And they were extra-excited when they spotted a red-breasted robin during birdwatching. Spring is near...

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Renee said...

Just discovered a verse on page 52 of Spindrift called "The Wood Gatherer."

Renee said...

And two lovely stories in Tell Me a Story:
"The Golden Pine Cones," page 176 and "Peter, Paul, and Espen," page 179.