Fables, Saints, and Shadow Puppet Theater
Ms. Gwen Wahlquist, Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade Remote Teacher
In a Waldorf second grade program, Saints and Fables are major themes of study. (Heroes are often also mixed in with the Saints.) Saints and heroes connect us to our higher selves with attributes of service, love, courage and faith. With the Saint stories in particular, there are often miracles. Children delight in and relate to the magic of miracles, as they are recent travelers to earth from the heavenly realms.
In contrast, fables are cultural stories that use anthropomorphism (often with animals), showing characteristics that are sometimes unsavory, yet very much human. Jealousy, revenge, bitterness, and trickery are exampled. Within fables, you will find morals and life lessons.
As human beings, we experience and relate to being both the upright and the disagreeable. We may grapple to overcome and work through unpleasant characteristics of being human our entire lives. We may also work to recognize the miracles in everyday life and strive to be more forgiving, generous, loving, and accepting. Saints and fables are really a study of what it is to be human. Waldorf Education is linked to human development. My favorite resource for child development by year, comes from The Gessell Institute of Human Development. You can click on the age of your child to learn about their development: https://centerforparentingeducation.org/library-of-articles/child-development/child-development-by-age/#eight
In our remote second grade class, the River class, we’ve been learning about fables, saints and heroes. Because we are remote, we did not have a class play, yet we’ve had a few opportunities for story memorization and recitation.
I asked the children to pick one of three fables to memorize and perform. They were given instructions on how to construct a shadow puppet theater out of everyday supplies they could find at home—namely a cardboard box and a light source. They also cut out scenery and characters from cardstock. (Adding arts and crafts to a remote program gives a much needed outbreath to online learning.)
The children took this up fully and I was pleased to hear about the children’s and families experiences. I was told about encore performances, sibling participation, and new stories that emerged from the children’s imaginations.
Later, we explored a few Dreamtime Stories, fables from Australia’s Aborigine culture. We worked on Aboriginal dot-art at home and then came together to make a class dot-art painting. Relics Art Gallery and Framing in Holladay, a Wasatch family-owned busines, graciously framed our canvas painting and you will see it listed in the Wasatch Gala Auction in a few weeks! www.RelicsGallery.com
In customary second grade form as we learn about St. Patrick this week, I will conclude this article with an excerpt from a popular Irish Blessing.
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand. -(Anonymous.)