Gateways is the newsletter of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America and is the professional journal for those working with young children in Waldorf early childhood settings - kindergartens, play groups, home care programs, parent/child classes and child care centers. Gateways is published twice each year, in the fall and spring.
The Online Waldorf Library offers Gateways articles from 1995, Issue #29, to the present.
Download the article: Working with Wood
The Carpenter pounds with one hammer, one hammer, one hammer
The Carpenter pounds with one hammer and then she pounds with two.
The Carpenter pounds with two hammers, two hammers, two hammers
The Carpenter pounds with two hammers and then she pounds with three...
—A traditional circle activity
Woodworking connects one with nature, and it is a magical process to use one’s hands and imagination to create something from what appears to be just a piece of wood. It is very exciting and empowering for adults as well as children. I feel it is important to share what we love, and I love wood: the beauty and function of trees, finding pieces of wood, feeling wood, seeing the different patterns and grains, repairing wooden toys, and more.
As early childhood educators, we are so good at doing practical work inside in order for the children to inwardly and outwardly imitate. But sometimes when we are outside, it is a little more difficult. Thus, I always have something in my pocket that needs sanding. In the beginning of the school year, there is always something to refurbish, such as the wooden plates, cups, play clips, and more. Since children learn from imitation, many often want to sand, as well, so they share in the work and develop a strong desire to transform something.
Download the article: A Rolling Pin's Journey Home
The daily joy of purposeful work in our early childhood classrooms is revealed in the eager bright eyes of our children as they enthusiastically engage in “real work.” It is most satisfying for child and teacher to work together, keeping rooms neat and clean, repairing broken toys and classroom items, preparing shared meals, setting and cleaning tables. We create our own world, our own “gardens” and “kingdoms.” Together we take responsibility and feel deep satisfaction and pride for work well done.
How can we make our work together ever more enriching, so that it envelops and nourishes our children beyond the classroom? This question becomes even more paramount in an urban environment where life for all can easily become disconnected. I would like to share a simple woodwork project that naturally flourished, weaving its way lovingly from the classroom into the home, enriching both.
Read more: Spring 2012, Issue #62: A Rollling Pin's Journey Home
Download the article: Potato Pogatcha Recipe
Here is a traditional Hungarian recipe to use with your rolling pins. It comes from the new WECAN publication For the Children of the World: Stories and Recipes from the International Association for Steiner/Waldorf Early Childhood Education, and was submitted by Joli Kiss, the IASWECE Council representative for Hungary. Proceeds from the sale of this book benefit lASWECE’s work on behalf of children around the world.
Download the article: Three Russian Kindergartens
The kindergartens our small group of four from ISIS Cultural Outreach International visited in central Russia this past summer started around 1989, when glasnost had opened Russia’s doors to the world in the midst of the chaos ensuing from perestroika.
At our first stop in Irkutsk in Siberia, near Lake Baikal and the border of Russia and Mongolia, German and Scandinavian Waldorf educators came and worked first with mothers of children with special needs and then with those wanting a Waldorf school, the kindergarten is in an old section of town with great charm but also many challenges, including drafty buildings, and until recently a dependence on a well on the street from which water had to be hauled to the kindergarten on a sled, even in bitter winter weather, the Anchorage Waldorf School will continue to help raise money to winterize another set of windows to hold the heat from the large, centrally located masonry stove in the nap room with its bunks for the children who stay all day.
Read more: Spring 2012, Issue #62: Three Russian Kindergartens
Download the article: The Merry Month of May
Bracelets that look like miniature maypoles can be made with the children before doing this circle. A round form can be made from paper twists, pipe cleaners or other material that fits over the child’s hand. Streamers of various bright colors of crepe paper can be cut into thin strips and tied onto the bracelet. This is a fun way for the children to practice tying. This decorative bracelet can be worn during the May Day dances to make them festive. This circle gives the opportunity to whistle, something the children love to practice. A small felted robin bird can also join this circle.
On May Day we dance Turn round Crouch down
On May Day we sing
For this is the day Crouch down
We welcome the spring Jump up to standing position
Clap on the word “spring”
To continue please download the full article, link above.
Download the article: The Little Seed
This delightful spring story is also excerpted from For the Children of the World. It was submitted by Silvia Jensen, the IASWECE Council representative for Brazil, and translated by Louise de Forest. The illustration (in the pdf) is by Gudrid Malmsten from Sweden.
There was once a little seed that fell from a boy’s hand, the little seed looked upon the earth and saw so many beautiful things that she began to feel sad that she was only a very little seed. She longed to be like the cherries hanging above her or a sweet and juicy orange and not just a little seed.
Read more: Fall/Winter 2011, Issue #61: Letter From the Editor
Download the article: Honoring Diversity: Images from Islam
It can often be a challenge to bring elements to the classroom which truly reflect and acknowledge the children in meaningful ways, especially if they come from diverse cultures. In the 2006-07 school year as the Advent season was approaching, I was preparing a circle by Nancy Blanning called “Searching for the Light”* in which the circle journeys, looking for light, and finds it in the realms of many cultures. It is a wonderful circle and easily adaptable to the children before you. Though several cultures are included in the journey, there was not a visit to the Islamic realm.
Read more: Fall/Winter 2011, Issue #61: Honoring Diversity: Images from Islam and Hajj Circle
Download the article: Moving with Soul, Part 2
This article is an extended version of a lecture given at the National Early Childhood Conference at Ringwood Waldorf School in England on October 17, 2009. Part One of the article was published in the previous issue of Gateways.
One of Wilma Ellersiek’s gesture games, which are mentioned in this article, is included in this issue starting on page 22.
Self-directed movement for the child under three
The development of movement, speech, and thinking in the first three years of life is guided and protected by spiritual beings. Yet there is a role for the human being as a model as well. Without experiencing upright human beings the child will not learn to be upright; without the unconscious will to be upright and walk, the model would be of no avail. Both have to come together. In the early years the child seems to be guided “from inside” and seems to intuitively “know” what he needs to do: an endless practice of the most varied movement combinations. Rudolf Steiner advises us to leave the child undisturbed and “uninstructed” at this early stage of development. The child educates himself. (See Soul Economy and Waldorf Education, Lecture 7, and The Spiritual Guidance of the Individual and Humanity, Lecture 1.) The undisturbed exploration of movement “from the inside out” is the precondition for the development of a sense of freedom in the human being.
Read more: Fall/Winter 2011, Issue #61: Moving with Soul, Part 2
Download the article: Eurythmy with Young Children
This excerpt is from an undated, out-of-print booklet called “Ideas and Encouragement for Teaching Eurythmy,” translated by Pauline Wehrle. We are grateful to Estelle Bryer for bringing it to our attention and to the Rudolf Steiner Library in Ghent, NY for finding a copy and making it available for borrowing.
Eurythmy with the little children under the age of seven began because Dr. Steiner told us “If one does eurythmy with little children under seven they acquire an ego force that neither school nor karma can give them.” The day after he said this I began with a few little ones. The only indication for the build up of the lesson for this age was: One should do “primitive eurythmy.”
Read more: Fall/Winter 2011, Issue #61: Eurythmy with Young Children