Friday, December 3, 2010

Waldorf Schools Winter Fairs: Felt Gnomes, Beeswax and Winter Spirit

"The elves and the shoemaker" puppet show at the San Francisco Waldorf School
 Last year I attended to the San Francisco Waldorf School winter fair and it was such a hit with my kids that I will be going again this weekend. If you have never been, it's a great opportunity to find Waldorf-inspired (read, natural) stocking stuffers or gifts, eat home-cooked food and enjoy kids activities. The shopping part was particularly fun because the fair featured a kids-only room where kids could trade wooden stars for small items. You buy the wooden stars in fabric bags at the entrance and kids get to spend their stars on whatever they want. They can also find Pocket People and dig in big pockets to find a surprise gift (small wooden ornaments, felt purses, felt gnomes) in exchange for stars. It's as far from the big commercial malls as you can get.

 When I heard about the winter fair last year, I was researching an article I wrote for the called Waldorf schools celebrate the season with winter fairs this weekend. I was so intrigued by the storybook world and winter-based traditions that I decided to give it a try. Plus my friend Adrienne was one of the organizers so that tipped the decision. I brought my four-year old and a 6-year old friend  and this is what they loved most:

The Sleeping Giant

You step inside a dark room and sit on benches around the room. Kids sit in front. When everybody is seated, the door is closed and the play begins. The giant's wife comes in and talks about the giant's treasure - a treasure chest filled to the brim with shiny trinkets that all kids eye with great envy. The giant eventually steps through the curtain door and lies down on the bed. When he falls asleep, kids are invited to rush to the treasure chest, "steal" an item and go, go, go before the giant wakes up! The door opens and kids run outside out of breath - holding a cherished treasure. On the school's website there's a note that recommends the Sleeping Giant for kids ages 3 to 6 and "not for the faint of heart." Makes me giggle.

Acorn, pine cone and walnut candles by Bee Happy Candles

The Fairy House
That's the no-parents allowed kids-only shopping room. Parents wait patiently outside while their kids walk inside the Lavender Room with their stars and start looking for little treasures. My four-year old came out of there ecstatic with little wooden buckets and doll furniture wrapped in gaze - some of which ended up as stocking stuffers for her cousins a few weeks later.

The Cookie House
Ha! Another no-parents allowed place, except this one is dedicated to the sweet tooth. Kids go through a tunnel and emerge in a room where the walls and shelves are adorned with decorated cookies. Again, kids get to select a cookie of their choice based on the number of stars. The bigger the cookie - the greater the number of stars!

The Puppet Show
In true Waldorf tradition, the story of "The elves and the shoemaker" was performed by parents moving little wooden characters and props on a table. The girls were transfixed and loved the story. This year's show will be "The Magic Key."

"Picking a pocket or two" Waldorf style
 The Pocket People
Now that's an interesting idea I hadn't seen elsewhere. Adults stroll the school's grounds wearing a big cloak peppered with colorful pockets. Each pocket has a number of stars glued on it. The idea is that kids trade stars for surprise gifts. The element of surprise is what makes the pocket people so much fun - and I didn't see a single child leave disappointed.

Other fun activities include:
- The Cake Walk: a twist on musical chairs with a cake as a prize if the child ends up on the correct spot
- Gingerbread House: gingerbread house decoration
- Candle dipping, beeswax for kids

I so much loved some of the vendors that I got their details and included them in an article on green stocking stuffers. The walnut baby is still a cherished toy in my 5-year-old's bedroom. In the school yard, I stocked up on local honey (the beehives are located in the city - isn't that great?) and we listened to some music before heading home with all our stars spent. To be fair, I didn't think the savory food was that great but the kids' enthusiasm was certainly worth an OK meal.

Sunday, December 5th, 10am - 3pm at the Grade School Campus
2938 Washington St., San Francisco, CA 94115

Other Waldorf schools are celebrating the winter around the Bay Area:
  • Winter Faire at Summerfield Waldorf School & Farm in Santa Rosa. Saturday December 4, 2010 - 11am to 4pm  at 655 Willowside Rd in Santa Rosa
    2010 Holiday Faire at the Peninsula Waldorf School. Saturday, December 4, 2010 - 10am - 5pm at 11311 Mora Drive, Los Altos, CA

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