A month ago we had the good fortune to be able to attend a demo Waldorf class in Devana Came’s new Waldorf classroom in Corona, where she will be teaching preschool and parent-toddler classes starting in September 2009.

Not only is Devana a capable and caring teacher, but she also happens to be a superb Waldorf craftsperson – as you can see in the photos and mini-movies in this post. Nearly everything in this classroom was handmade by Devana (much of the wood work was done with her able husband and his father too). EVERYTHING on that magnificent nature table at the top of this post was made by Devana. Isn’t it gorgeous?

I organized this demo class so that our own playgroup would be inspired and motivated for our own playgroup starting in September. Devana has been a wonderful role model for us.

We all arrived 15 minutes before the official start time to let the kids run around outside and greet friends. It was interesting to note that everything was covered up with cloths, so the children would not get into anything. Only the nature tables were uncovered – and they were several around the room depicting spring scenes. They were not meant for play, but for decoration, so most were up on top of shelves and tables out of the children’s reach.

Then Devana sang us into the circle with Follow Follow Me and when we were all in a circle holding hands she sang Now Look Around.

Then she  spoke a short rhyme Fishes are Like Wishes with a tiny fish finger puppet that had been hidden in her apron pocket. (I learned that the apron is an important part of the Waldorf teacher “uniform.” It also acts as sort of a protective shield around the teacher – which I can really appreciate, having been a public school teacher for many years…)

Then while we were still sitting, she sang a short seasonal hand play A Little Flower. The idea is that as we learn these songs, we’ll sing with her her, but at this point we were all too starstruck to do anything but watch. Notice though, that Christian has no problem jumping right in!

Next we sang two songs while standing and moving, Rinka Ranka Rosy Ray and the well-known Ring Around the Rosie.

Then another handplay – one that Christian LOVES, which I call My Hands. (Um, I’m just making up titles as I go a long here.) Many of the songs and handplays were done twice, which helped the kids catch on to what what going on. Notice too that she alternates active standing songs with quieter sitting songs.

Followed by a sweet rhyme about bees with another finger puppet.

And we ended with a tactile handplay on the children’s backs. She called it Crisscross Applesauce; I’ve always known it as Dot, Dot, Dot and a Big Question Mark.

Then Devana opened up the classroom and let the kids play  for about 30-40 minutes while the adults worked on a craft. Lots of oohs and aahs. Some of the children were shy at first, but most lost no time in getting right in with the toys. I enjoyed watching the kids sweep and play house.

The parents (remember, the craft activity keeps them out of the chidren’s hair) made the little felt finger puppet fishie that Devana had used during circle time. I believe that the pattern and rhyme came from a book called A Child’s Seasonal Treasury compiled and edited by Betty Jones. (If not, this book has many similar craft projects…) I was the assistant that day and so I was in the kitchen washing cutting fruits for the fruit salad snack during this time. Normally, this can be done near the children so they can watch and participate in the preparation of the fruit bowl.

Then as the play time came to a close (seemed like no time at all had passed), Devana led the children into cleaning up with the Dusty Gnome song. And then into the kitchen where we had a handwashing station set up with a handwashing song (when I say songs are simple, I’m serious – this song goes “Time to wash our hands… over and over again until all hands are washed.).

She led all the children to back to the table with a Welcome  song.  Again, the table kept empty until all the children were settled, so nobody would be tempted to reach for food or fiddle with things. We served fruit salad, quinoa, and water (in small glass bowls and glasses from Ikea).

Then the sweet non-denomational food blessing.

And we ate. As children finished they went outside with their parents to play. Devana mentioned that at the start of the year children always left lots of grain in their bowls, but as they got used to whole grains they would start devouring whole bowlfuls!

While the children played outside and parents supervised, Devana prepared the storytime. When she was ready, she sang the children in. Once the children were settled, she sang a short story verse (I found another that I like really well – and often people light a candle or ring a bell before a story).

The children were completely captivated by the simple and short “puppet” story Devana acted out with her Root children changing from their drab winter clothing to their spring flower clothing.

Afterwards, there was a short playtime again. The children who wanted to were swung in a large blue cloth (a bedsheet) while we all sang Row, Row Your Boat.

Finally there was a closing circle with three standing songs and a goodbye (Who Will Come to My Wee Ring, The Earth Stands Firm, I Can Turn Myself and Goodbye Now) and a song to send the children out the door under a billowing rainbow cloth bridge (Rainbow Bridge Song).

Whew. A lot of singing! But it was amazingly effective and pleasant for the children –  instead of following spoken commands and adult directives all day, it felt like everything was fun and magical.

VERY INSPIRATIONAL. THANK YOU DEVANA!

Here is a link to the lyrics.

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