Swedish Fairy Tales for Kindergarten
We are finishing up a block of Swedish Fairy Tales with my Kindy 2 child and I wanted to share what we've been doing. Like you, I wear a lot of hats. But the one that is my top priority is the homeschooling mom hat. Though we never planned to homeschool, now that we are 5+ years in, I see the benefits more every day - and my reasons for homeschooling continue to accumulate.
One of the things I enjoy most about our path is the flexibility I have in choosing what my children learn, how they learn it, and when they learn it. There is so much room for creativity! And in fact, creating curriculum for my specific kids is what Waldorf is all about!
I'm finishing up a block with Cheech that I thought I'd share here. (Cheech is not his real name - it's what I call him on the internet.) It's been so much fun, an easy one to put together - and if, like me, you are always looking for ideas for something a) fun and b) easy, maybe it will inspire you. We are finishing up kindy 2 this summer (we school year-round), so his time is still very gentle, firmly rooted in story, without any emphasis on academics.
I had planned an entire block for December centered on Swedish heritage. My husband's side of the family hails from there and I happened to spend a good part of my childhood in a region heavily populated with Swedes (and Norwegians - uff da!) Scandinavian folklore, art, and food evoke feelings of "home" for me and at the holidays, when I am especially homesick, I thought that would be a great time to do an easy little block on the topic. However, life had other plans and I didn't get to it! (No worries - it's on the block calendar for next year!)
In the meantime, I had a three-week block open for my kindy boy and this is how I filled it! All of the stories came from Swedish Folk Tales illustrated by John Bauer published by Floris Books. (Not an affiliate link.) Elsa Beskow is one of many contributors for those familiar with her work. The illustrations are rather...Scandinavian as you might imagine. Dark, sometimes even brooding, and some might be kind of scary to the younger set. This doesn't matter to us since my kids don't actually look at the pictures, but for those who do, just something to consider.
We start our school time with a short circle. We begin by lighting a candle, then use a meditation chime to center our breathing. We do the color of the day, my older child does the calendar, we make some weather predictions and seasonal observations, then move right into a couple of verses, one song, and a prayer. My kids are honestly not too keen on circle - perhaps because they have been going with me for years to lead them for preschool children, they think they are babyish. Shortening our time - and calling it "Gathering Time" - seem to be a good compromise.
My Cheech's verse for the month:
Spring is Here (Author Unknown)
Spring is here! Spring is here! Winter is gone and two flowers appear. Three little robins begin to sing. Four bicycle bells begin to ring. Five children come out and jump the rope. Spring is here now! I hope, I hope!
Our song for the month is "Unfolding" from Music Unfolds. We've learned a new verse each week (there are three).
Our prayer is "Father, We Thank Thee for the Night." You can find a hymn setting here. We use only the first two verses.
Cheech and I do just one story a week. I tell/read it daily Monday through Thursday. Each day, he helps fill in the story more and more. Monday we draw, Tuesday we model (with clay, beeswax, or Playdo). Wednesday we paint, Thursday we draw once more. Friday, we do some kind of craft - his choice. Once he has done his "lively art," he helps with household chores, pet care, plays outside, and does kid stuff. He has his main lesson first while his older brother is working on his daily work. Here is his story content for this block and a little bit about why I chose these stories.
Week 1: "The Old Troll of Big Mountain"
In this story, a little boy named Olle has been warned about the Old Troll of Big Mountain. The ugly Old Troll has stolen the family goats and also steals children. Of course, the Old Troll visits Olle's house when he is home alone, but Olle doesn't recognize him and is tricked into going into the forest with the troll. Annoyed that the child shows no fear, the Old Troll hints at his identity. Olle refuses to believe him because he looks just like anyone else and shares a bit of bread with the troll. This act of sharing forces the troll to reciprocate and Olle returns home safe and sound - with a herd of goats. When his parents discover where he has been, they tell him who the old man really was. Olle's conclusion? "...maybe even bad old trolls are good sometimes."
I chose this story because I liked Olle's pluck. He's a feisty little thing, crafting weapons to defend himself against the troll. I could see my little guy doing the same thing. I also liked the lessons about not judging people by their appearance and that generosity (sometimes) disarms a foe. I do not point these lessons out (it's a Waldorf thing), but I trust that my son will take these (or other lessons he needs) from it in his own time.
Week 2: "The Boy Who Was Never Afraid"
Most children, including mine, are dealing with a number of strong fears at six. I chose this story because I liked its message about how to deal with things that frighten us - and that sometimes, kindness doesn't work and our only option is to remove ourselves from the situation. (Siblings can be HARD, right?!)
In this tale, a young boy named Nisse goes into the forest to search for the stolen family cow. Not only will he have to face trolls (of course!), but the green-haired witch, the watchdog of the forest, and the bear king. Because he is so goodhearted and friendly, animals have no reason to harm him, so he goes confidently and with his parents blessing. Of course he encounters all three fearsome personages, but quickly disarms them with his kindness. They, in turn, accompany him to the trolls' cave and rescue him when the trolls fail to respond to his overtures of kindness.
Week 3: "The Magpie with Salt on her Tail"
In this story, a little boy (Olle again, but not the same Olle) longs for the good things in life - a horse to ride, a sled, a pocketknife. He is told that if he sprinkles salt on a magpie's tail, the bird will grant him all his wishes. He meets a magpie who promises to let him salt her tail if he will get her a pocketknife. He picks berries, sells them, and buys the knife. She reneges on her promise - she doesn't want a knife anymore, so he can keep it, but if he brings her a sled she will let him sprinkle her tail. With his knife, he whittles breadboards and spoons, sells them, and buys the bird a sled. Again, she changes her mind and the deal, asking for a carriage and horses instead. He hires out his sled, earns the money to buy the carriage and horses, but again, the magpie changes the deal. This continues until the boy has worked for more carriages, more horses, a castle, and chests of gold as well. Finally, the magpie lets him salt her tail. But the boy, now a young man, can think of nothing to wish for. "He already had everything he could wish for, and he had never even noticed." The magpie and the boy live happily ever after.
I chose this story because we have a fairly advanced case of the "gimmes" lately - give me this, give me that - and as soon as the thing so dearly wished for is acquired, someone wants something else. (Is it just my kids? I don't think so!) And as one of the things my little guy pines for happens to also be a pocketknife, I couldn't pass up this story!
So, that's it. Three weeks of school for my six year old, all very gentle, low-fuss, and he's been enjoying it very much. These stories may not appeal to you AT ALL - but you can always choose your own. In fact, I highly recommend it! Tell me about your favorite stories - I'd love to hear about them.