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Much like an altar, a nature table is a special place you keep in your home with symbols of the season going on around you outside. It’s something to reflect on and use for making your connection to the living Earth more real and familiar—even if you can’t spend as much time out in it as you’d like.
A nature table can be a wonderful way of teaching children to respect and honor the Earth, and an opportunity to strengthen your family’s connection to nature. Children especially love nature tables (particularly those with little gnomes as a part of their motif), and they respond well to the rhythmical quality of seeing the four seasons play out in front of them with their participation as the year goes by.
Setting up a nature table in your family’s home is a great way to connect with the cycle of the seasons and teach your children to respect the natural world. Here are some ideas for getting started making a nature table
Making a nature table doesn’t have to be expensive; you probably already have everything you need in your house or yard. First, choose a location where you’ll be sure to see your table often, but where it won’t be in the way of your usual routine. It can be in the bathroom, the bedroom, the living room, the kitchen or whatever area works best for your family.
Then use your creativity to create a scene that reflects the season. For example, in the winter you might begin by laying down a white pillowcase, then tossing on some un-dyed wool, cotton balls or cotton batting to represent snow. Cut out some paper snowflakes and add them, perhaps hanging them from a bare stick that you found on a recent walk. An upside-down drinking glass looks a lot like a big glacier, and if you surround the bottom of it with the cotton balls, the illusion will be complete. A candle can symbolize a warm fireplace on a snowy day.
Changing the Scene
With the arrival of each new winter, spring, summer, and fall tap into your imagination anew. Brainstorm with your family about what the season feels like, and how it might be represented by things you find outside or in your home. Little felted animals and people are ideal for kids and grown-ups to position and play with on your nature table, but any toy animals or people you have will do.
On your next walk, pick up some things for your nature table—a pine cone, small branch or twig, leaf, rock, fallen bird’s nest or anything else you see that is of the natural world and represents the season. As kids get into it, they’ll really enjoy finding things to add to your table when they’re playing outside or on a walk with you.
Teaching Your Children
By showing your children that you reserve a special place for nature in your home and think of it often, you are planting seeds of love and respect for the Earth. And tapping into your creativity feels good even if you don’t have children. Plus, the daily reminder of the Earth outside is a great chance to think about how you behave in it, leading you to make better, greener choices throughout the day.
Wherever you live—in the city, suburbs or country, in an apartment, house or on a farm—a nature table will add a beautiful, rustic touch to your home. It will serve as a pleasant reminder of the seasonal rhythms we have shared for millennia—and continue to share—with all life on this planet that sustains us. It is a wonderful way to keep nature in our consciousness, which inevitably leads us to widen and deepen our connection with the Earth, our families and ourselves.