Gnomes are widely used in Waldorf Steiner schools – both to make and to play with, particularly in nursery settings they make great props for storytelling. Through countless generations, storytelling traditions have been handed down, telling tales of encounters with little folk – gnomes, dwarfs, leprechauns, pixies and fairies.

Known as nature spirits, some people claim to have the gift of seeing them. Small children love hearing fairy stories and dancing around pretending to see the little folk. They bring alive children’s imaginations and fantasies and would be fun to take out into the woods to play with – why not build them an enchanted forest of their own? Perhaps under a hollowed out tree, you could collect sticks together to build a shelter, make a mossy bed, a teeny fire and acorn cups for food.

The Gnome Craft Book by Thomas and Petra Berger shows lots of different ways of making gnomes – including walnuts, twigs, wool and paper and a variety of other media. These are made from a fallen branch I found whilst out walking.

You will need a saw – a small hack saw or bow saw would be better for the job than the one I used! Paint the faces, beards and hats with acrylic paint, I made some hats from felt, and used magic wool for beards and hair. Let your imagination take the lead as you create gnomes with your child. I’ve made these ones about 20 cm – a good size to hold in the hand.

Your gnomes will be a wonderful addition to your seasonal nature table, at any time of the year.

It’s fun to to make up little verses with your child like this:

Deep in the forest where nobody goes
There are little gnomes building their homes
Softly they sweep with a silver broom
And make acorn soup with small wooden spoons

Downy feathers line their mossy beds
Where on cold winter’s nights they lay their heads
Gathering fire wood for the winter nights long
They sit around the flames and sing songs

About the Author: Paula Woodman

Paula is a Montessori teacher and Forest School Leader who has run the much loved Woodentots Montessori nurseries in North London for over 30 years. Recently recognised as Montessorian of the Year, Paula’s schools offer a unique and rich mix of Montessori, Steiner and Forest School, with child-led creativity at their core.