What is a Nature Table ?
A seasonal or nature table is a place in the home where you can follow the natural cycle of the year. Changes in nature are given expression indoors. In attending to the seasonal tableau you will find your observation of what goes on in nature is sharpened. Looking after the table can be absorbing, always alert for something suitable for each season.
This search enables one to live with the rhythm of the spring equinox, summer solstice, autumn equinox, midwinter and so on. One is no longer simply swept along by the passage of time but consciously experiences the rhythm of the year. This is a source of security.
Young children do not grasp nature intellectually, but unconsciously accept its laws. When we bring the external world indoors, creating a seasonal table without the use of words, children become aware of nature at work in their surroundings.
Older children or adults have less need of representation in the form of dolls; a vase with branches or flowers of the season, a print or a beautiful stone is all that is necessary.
All that is needed to create a seasonal tableau is a special table or a shelf or simply somewhere to put the things. It is best to have a particular place,which does not change,but gives children a definite focus.
Arranging a Nature Table
The basic foundation of a seasonal table consists of soft flowing material such as velvet, wool-cotton mix or silk in appropriate sizes.
The fabric can simply be laid on the table,or it can also serve as a background,in which case lift one corner up and tie it to a fixture higher up, varying the height of the background according to the table.
The colours of the ground and background are very important,because they express the mood of the season. Stones,round logs and vases of various sizes are useful for setting up a nature table.
Using the Nature Table
Children should be allowed to touch and move the objects on the table ( doll-figures, animals, stones or shells…), although generally these are not meant to be taken from the table and played with. Mary and Joseph can move towards the stable and arrive there at Christmas – an appropriate intervention by the child.
Mother Earth is usually the central figure. She can be present all year round
Bought things can also be placed on the nature table of course – for example wooden animals, chocolate Easter hares,eggs,cut crystals,a candle or a postcard. The flowers should be renewed regularly,this also shows the seasons’ change.