More Books for Children Under 7

As for books……

Some Favorite Books to Read Aloud for the Under 7 Age Group: (no order)

As always, please preview, pre-read and see if you think it is right for your child and your family:

Any Elsa Beskow books

The Chicken Who Wanted to Fly, Dora Duck and the Juicy Pears, Am I Really Different – Evelien van Dort

Any Room for Me? And The Pancake That Ran Away – Loek Koopmans

The Apple Cake – Nienke Van Hitchum

Pico the Gnome – Martina Muller

The Mouse and the Potato and Stan Bolivan and the Dragon – Thomas Berger

The Story of the Root Children and The Princess in the Forest – Sibylle von Offers

Peter William Butterblow – CJ Moore (poems)

When the Sun Rose, Grandfather Twilight – Barbara Helen Berger

The Snowy Day, Whistle for Willie, Peter’s Chair – Ezra Jack Keats

The Tomten, The Tomten and the Fox – Astrid Lindgren 

Make Way for Ducklings, Blueberries for Sal, Time of Wonder, One Morning in Maine – Robert McCloskey

Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer – Gerda Muller (no words, just pictures)

Tales of Tiptoes Lightly (series)- Reg Down – great for six and seven year olds

Teddy Robinson  – a favorite, favorite, favorite for the five and a half to seven year olds.

Milly Molly Mandy Stories (series) – for six year olds and seven year olds.

Just a few thoughts from my little corner of the world.

The Importance of Fairy Tales

 

Waldorf education considers fairy tales the foundation for children under the age of 7.  Typically these tales are told orally, not read.  So, this leads to several questions:  Why should we consider oral storytelling in our homes?  Shouldn’t we be reading books so our children can see the importance of books and want to read?  Why should we use fairy tales?  What about the violence in fairy tales?

Some of these quotes may get you thinking about this subject:

“The human soul has an inextinguishable need to have the substance of fairy tales flow through its veins, just as the body needs to have nourishing substances circulate through it.” -Rudolf Steiner

“We can interpret the fairy tales-to return to these-as answers to the ultimate questions about our outer and inner needs.” -An Overview of the Waldorf Kindergarten, page 48.

 

“Children who are ready for fairy tales instinctively know that these stories are not literally true on the physical plane, but are true pictures of inner events and circumstances, of inner challenges and forces which must be faced and overcome. Thus, they sense that beauty and ugliness refer to inner qualities, not external appearance.” -In A Nutshell: Dialogues with Parents At Acorn Hill, Nancy Foster, page 47.

“In regard to the issue of violence and evil, it is a reality that children, and all of us, do encounter challenges and bad or frightening experiences in life. The fairy tales, in which such experiences are redeemed in various ways according to the particular story, help to give children the trust that challenges can be overcome and that we are not powerless.” -In A Nutshell: Dialogues With Parents At Acorn Hill, Nancy Foster, page 48.

“That is the strength of fairy tales. They are filled with promise. The weak can be strong; evil can be turned to good; the ugly can become beautiful; Cinderella can become a princess, the frog a prince. Every human being can rise to his true stature. Even the smallest child can realize this and rejoice at future victories.” –An Overview of the Waldorf Kindergarten, page 54.

So, in short, we tell stories orally because once we, the parent,  pick a story and are with the story for three days before we tell it, we put ourselves into it when we tell it to our children. That warmth from us is there, and there is no book that can create that.   The children then create the pictures of these archtypal images in their heads.  They realize truth and beauty and goodness come from people and life, not just in books.  This sets the stage for the parent being an Authority in life, a Keeper of Knowledge, not just that knowledge comes from books.  The oral storytelling provides a rich context for language and rhyme that is important in later reading. 

The images within the fairy tale tell the story of all people, of all generations and of all times.  It fulfills essential qualities within the child’s soul.  Fairy tales are also a vital part of the moral education of a child.  For more interesting insights into fairy tales and the role they fulfill for all of us, please do read Bruno Bettelhem’s “The Uses of Enchantment:  The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales.”

I love what Mr. Bettelham says on page 45 of his book: “Myths and fairy tales both answer the eternal questions:  What is the world really like?  How am I to live my life in it?  How can I truly be myself?  The answers given by myths are definite, while the fairy tale is suggestive.”  He goes on to say on page 47,” The child asks himself: “Who am I?  Where did I come from?  How did the world come into being?  Who created man and all the animals? What is the purpose of life?  True, he ponders these vital questions not in the abstract, but mainly as they pertain to him.  He worries not whether there is justice for individual man, but whether he will be treated justly.  He  wonders who or what projects him into adversity, and what can prevent this from happening to him.  Are there benevolent powers in addition to his parents?  Are his parents benevolent powers?  How should he form himself, and why?  ….Fairy tales provide answers to these pressing questions, many of which the child becomes aware of only as he follows these stories.”

Mr. Bettelhem also says in his book, “From an adult point of view and in terms of modern science, the answers which fairy tales offer are fantastic rather than true.  As a matter of fact, these solutions seem so incorrect to many adults – who have become estranged from the ways in which young people experience the world – that they object to  exposing children to such “false” information.  However, realistic explanations are usually incomprehensible to children, because they lack the abstract understanding required to make sense of them.  While giving a scientifically correct answer makes adults think they have clarified things for the child, such explanations leave the young child confused, overpowered and intellectually defeated.”

I hope I have at least put a brief thought in your head to consider telling your four, five, six and seven year olds some fairy tales!  If you would like to do this, please read on for some suggestions to assist you!

Some Points to Consider In Preparing Tales to Tell:

-It is important for the storyteller to be familiar with the story, and to enjoy it.

-It is important for the storyteller to tell it in a matter-of-fact, non-dramatized way so the child may digest it without the adult feelings and intellectualization added in.

-If you do not like a certain fairy tale or it makes you uncomfortable, then it will not be good for your child – work with the fairy tales that resonate with you!

-Choose authentic versions of the fairy tale – the most authentic versions of the Grimm’s fairy tales can be found in the Pantheon edition edited by Padraic Colum. The stories by Hans Christian Anderson, Oscar Wilde (single authors, not handed down stories) are more suitable for older children than the under 7 bunch. Folktales and fables are covered in Second Grade, so save those until then.

-Pick very simple and repetitive stories for children under 5. As your child heads toward 6, pick stories where there are more complex plots and the hero needs to overcome more.

How to Prepare:

-Read the same story to yourself for three nights in a row.  Marsha Johnson advocates this in her lesson planning notes (see Yahoo!Groups waldorfhomeeducators for her group).   (My note:  Yes, this is the three- day rhythm of the Waldorf grades as applied to adults. Waldorf uses sleep as an aid to learning!)

-Don’t be afraid to use props –props can really enliven the story. One of my favorite resources for this is to use puppetry.  Please do see Suzanne Down’s wonderful website Juniper Tree Puppets.  She has a seasonal newsletter you can sign up for that often has a story and a suggestion for a puppetry activity to go with the story.  My favorite book on this subject is “Making Magical  Fairy-Tale Puppets” by Christel Dhom, Rudolf Steiner College Press.

-Get into the rhythmic qualities of a fairy tale if it has those qualities – think of The Pancake or The Turnip.  Very rhythmical and repetitive and comforting to young ones!

Fairy Tales – Which Ones to Choose for Oral Storytelling?  These are just some suggestions.  These are tales I have seen  recommended for this age group in multiple Waldorf sources or ones we have personally done at that age.

Three and Four Year Olds –

Sweet Porridge (Grimm 103)

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Little Louse and Little Flea (Spindrift, Let Us Form A Ring)

The Giant Turnip (Russian)

The Mitten (Russian)

The Gingerbread Man

The Bun (cannot remember where The Bun originated for sure, I believe Russia)

The Johnny Cake (English)

The Hungry Cat (Plays for Puppets)

The Old Woman and Her Pig (English)

The Cat and the Mouse (English)

Little Red Hen

The City Mouse and The Country Mouse

Any fairy tale that has repetitive elements and a very simple story line would do!

Four and Five Year Olds:

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

The Three Little Pigs

The Pancake Mill (Let Us Form A Ring)

Mashenka and the Bear (Russian, Spindrift)

The Elves (Grimm 39)

Star Money (Grimm 153)  – I would say more for 5 year olds or even a six year old than a four year old, but that is just my own opinion.

Five and Six Year Olds:

The Frog Prince (Grimm 1)

Mother Holle (Grimm 24)

Little Red Cap (Grimm 25)

The Bremen Town Musicians (Grimm 27)

The Spindle, Shuttle and the Needle (Grimm 188)

The Hut in the Forest (Grimm 169)

The Queen Bee (Grimm 62)

The Seven Ravens (Grimm 25) – I didn’t tell this one until first grade

Snow White and Rose Red (Grimm 161) – we also used this one in first grade, but would be fine for a six year old in second year of Kindy.

The Princess in the Flaming Castle (Let Us Form A Ring)

Twiggy (Let Us Form A Ring)

The Donkey (Grimm 144)

Lazy Jack (English)

Tom-Tit-Tot (English)

Puss in Boots, sometimes also called The Master Cat

Necessary Resources:

The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales – I like the Pantheon version. Look for Hunt and Stern as the editors.

Wynstones, Sprindrift books

Let Us Form A Ring

Plays for Puppets

The Pancake and Other Tales – available from Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore

Autumn Tales and Spring Tales by Suzanne Down

www.mainlesson.com has many suitable tales you can pre-read

Hope that helps someone, just a few thoughts from my little corner of the world.

Why Should I Consider Time-In Instead?

Okay, I have to be very honest with you all and admit I really cannot stand time-out for children under the age of 7.  The rationale that many parents use for time-out is that “my children need to think about what they have done.”  This, to me, contradicts the view of a small child under the age of 7 from a Waldorf educator’s point of view.  From a Waldorf perspective, we do not expect small children to be able to reflect on what they have done in a HEAD manner – we would, however, expect them to help the situation by using their BODIES and their HANDS.  That is a big difference.

The other rationale that parents use for time-out is for when children behaving badly and out of control.  The Waldorf perspective would point to the fact that small children under the age of 7 need their parents’ physical presence, gentle words and gentle hands to help them come back to their bodies.  Sometimes the best place for that is to provide something rhythmical to do, or to provide our bodies in a rocking chair for the rhythmical activity.

From an attachment parenting standpoint, there are attached families who do consider the use of time-out consistent with their philosophy. However, I ask you to respectfully consider the following:

“Sometimes parents are advised to use a time-out instead of spanking their kids – as though these were the only two options available. The reality, as we’ve seen, is that both of these tactics are punitive. They differ only with respect to whether children will be made to suffer by physical or emotional means. If we were forced to choose one over the other, then, sure time-outs are preferable to spankings. For that matter, spanking kids is preferable to shooting them, but that’s not much of an argument for spanking.” -Alfie Kohn, Unconditional Parenting, page 65-66.

Alfie Kohn discusses the history of time-out: “Time-out is actually an abbreviation for time out from positive reinforcement. The practice was developed almost half a century ago as a way of training laboratory animals….When you send a child away, what’s really being switched off or withdrawn is your presence, your attention, your love. You may not have thought of it that way.” -Alfie Kohn, Unconditional Parenting, page 26-27.

So how about some tools to try instead:

Humor!

Environmental Control – child-proof your house so you do not have to keep saying “no” to everything and policing everything

Going outside and having

Having a stronger rhythm to your day of interesting things to do

Listening to your child

Empathy – now with WORDS for the under 7 crowd, but with smiles, hugs, and warmth

Time-In with you, holding

If you cannot hold your child, have the child near you while you are doing something rhythmical and start to tell a small story.  Many times this is enough to shift the mood in the space.  Then you can later go back to the situation and try to make it better.

If YOU need to gain control and take a small break outside that is different than sending a small under 7 child away!

Also, there is nothing wrong with giving the child an option to go to her room or another place when she is upset – as long as it is an option and the child controls the leaving, where to go in the house, what to do, when to come back).

You may agree or disagree with me, but these are just a few of my thoughts from my little corner of the world.

The Pumpkin Pie Song

Just in time to help your children learn this song for Thanksgiving, here is my dear friend Jodie playing guitar, along with her 7 year old playing the pennywhistle, and singing all the words for your listening pleasure:

http://homemusicmaking.blogspot.com/

You can find the words and music to this song on page  89 of the book, “Festivals, Family and Food:  Guide to Seasonal Celebration” by Diana Carey and Judy Large.

Have fun with it!!

Just a few thoughts from my little corner of the world.