So folks, you’ve had a lot to think about over these last 2 weeks. I hope some of you were able to apply some of the things we have been talking about. If it still seems a bit overwhelming, don’t worry. This is a lot of information I am giving to you at one time. Once you understand all these basics, it will come easier. And we will be able to have a lot of fun!
So, The Feeling Stage relates mostly to the plant kingdom. What does this mean? Glad you asked. Think about plants. They are one step above the mineral kingdom. They have the ability to assimilate water, air, and sunlight into food! Plants that are cultivated, rely on the gardener to provide the right environment to grow healthy. So do children in this stage. They rely on us to create a thriving environment. They then assimilate their surrounding world and transform it into something they can use. The plant kingdom consists of grades one through seven. “The inner world of the child between seven and fourteen is full of living, mobile pictures, and, like the plants, the innocence of their inner life is what is most characteristic.” –Reg Down
So let’s take a look at the first group of this plantlike kingdom in the Feeling Stage. The second half of grade 1 (those that have gone through the 6 year old change) and second grade. Like I said before, these children are just discovering that they can affect the world around them; that they are separate from nature. They start to have all sorts of new feelings and emotions stirred up inside them. Not only can they affect the world around them, but that the world can have an imprint on them as well. This can be scary! So how do we, as their “gardeners” create a healthy, happy environment for them? Let’s talk about some fun things we can do with them!
First Grade (after 6 year old change): You can continue to do stories like in Kindy and the first half of Grade One, but it’s probably best to tell a shorter story so you can have the remainder of the lesson to do other things. Here is an example of some of the other things you can do: The Kingdom of Straight and Curves (from Leaving Room for the Angels by Reg Down) is a fun one. You can lay copper rods in a spiral fashion and have the children walk the stairs up the spiral staircase to the Kingdom of Straight and Curves where they learn to walk different forms like circle, square, triangle, gliding figure eight, etc. Another thing you can do is mirror image forms. Partner the children up and have them walk forms, following their partner as if in a mirror. This gives them some perception of special awareness. And then there are always copper rod exercises and games that you can do with them.
Second Grade: You can follow the same pattern and outline as First Grade with additional exercises for these guys! Second Graders are still in that dreamy imaginative state. The curriculum for this grade focuses on animal stories, fables, and saints. So the stories used for this grade really have a wide variety. Again, keep the stories short. You can also use the curriculum for exercises in Eurythmy. For example, one of my favorite exercises is based on the story of “Nanabush and the Close Your Eyes Dance.” (Idea from Eurythmy for the Elementary Grades by Francine Adams.) This game can be used to teach beat or rhythm. Nanabush, as the legend goes, was the creator of the earth, sent to the earth to live. But in his mortal state, Nanabush becomes greedy and selfish and learns a lot of hard lessons. The “Close Your Eyes Dance” is an Ojibwa Legend of learning to not be greedy. So Nanabush gets tricked by ducks a lot since that seems to be one of his favorite foods. He is always trying to trick them, but they somehow always foil his plans! In this story, Nanabush was just defeated by the ducks. He is very sad and hungry. He sits all alone by the river, watching the ducks swim around, thinking about how hungry he is and how yummy these ducks would taste. He starts beating his drum to take his mind off things. Then he starts dancing. A nearby duck notices him and asks what he is doing. Annoyed, Nanabush tells the duck to go away and leave him alone! The duck insists on knowing what he is doing and wants to participate. Nanabush gets an idea! He plans on tricking this duck right into the fire! So he tells the duck that if he wants to participate, the duck MUST do it the exact way he tells him. The duck thinks it looks like so much fun that he agrees. Nanabush tells him, he must dance around the fire in a circle, but he must keep his eyes closed. So the duck does it. Other ducks see and join in. Soon, Nanabush has dozens of ducks, all with their eyes closed, dancing around his fire. Nanabush starts picking them off one by one and throwing them in the fire to cook. One duck gets curious and opens his eyes to see what is happening. He quacks a loud warning and it sends all the ducks flying away. Nanabush laughs and is not worried because he was able to get most of the ducks. He has so many ducks that it will take a very long time to cook. So he decides to take a nap, but he sleeps so long that the ducks burn to a char. Nanabush has no ducks to eat. He shouldn’t have been so greedy. He should have only taken what he needed to feed his hunger. So the game goes like this. You choose one child to be Nanabush. He stands in the middle while the rest of the children step to the beat that you are thumping. To keep a beat for stepping, you could use a drum or sticks, or even clap a beat or rhythm. The children step to the beat around Nanabush. Without the “Nanbush” seeing, you wink at a child that is designated the alarm duck. One by one, the “Nanabush” pulls children into the middle of the circle. If “Nanabush” reaches for the alarm duck child, that child quacks loudly and “flies” away, flapping his wings. The rest of the children still walking the circle follow suit, quacking loudly and flying away.
So as you can see, the children in the Feeling Stage are very much like the plant kingdom. They live in their imaginations and thrive or fail in the environment we provide for them. I hope these examples I have given you will help jump start your own creativity with ways to teach your children and bring Eurythmy into your home.
(Up next: The Feeling Stage: Part 2 (Class 3 and 4); including their developmental feats and some fun exercises to include that apply directly to their particular grades!)
Nanabush and the dancing ducks art by Daphne Odjig. You read more about her at http://cubegallery.ca/events/2015_02_08_vernissage_for_daphne_odjig
Sometimes I feel… art by barbarawilliamson.org