Thursday, May 21, 2009

Old Father Sliffslaff-Slibberslak...

Here is an illustration from the lovely book by Sibylle von Olfers, published originally in German in 1906, called, "The Story of the Root-Children".

In this illustration, the root children have come up to the surface and meet "old father Sliffslaff-Slibberslak", the snail - a creature that the little violet root child had never before seen, hence she hides behind a tree.

We recently suffered from our second stomach illness in the past month and poor "C" was recovering. While I dislike when my children aren't feeling well, aside from building their immune system, I am happy for the one-on-one time I get to spend with the healthy twin. Neither of the girls has had much one-on-one time, being twins and all, so it is a treat for us!

"E" loves to work with her hands, whether it's puzzling or creating something. She has already taken to needle felting and wanted to make something with me while "C" slept. So she picked her favorite colors...

And we set to work making something slimy and sluggish...first she worked on the shell...

And then the body...

I helped her where she needed it, but she quickly wanted to take over, very carefully. We added eyes and it was almost finished...

We headed outside and I caught our 11 year old corgi-mix, Farley, squeezed in between two young trees against the house, staying cool in the shade...

Before we knew it, "E"'s Sliffslaff-Slibberslak took off very slowly in the grass...
She quickly found a friend sleeping on the retaining wall...can you spot the snail poop?

And I realized this would be a fun science moment! The girls want to learn all about animals and living creatures of every form this summer, so I found these simple Rookie Science books perfect for pre-K and Kindy age. They have detailed pictures and limited text for a nice introduction to the subjects at hand...

Soon, Sliffslaff-Slibberslak convinced us to gather two friends and we watched as they came out of their shells, one less shy than the other. Their bodies come out a bit, followed by the eyes...peeking around at what or who is nearby...

We just observed and appreciated the gentle, slow pace of these interesting creatures...

Soon, my little slibberslak learner wanted to hold them, so we put on some gloves so she wouldn't be so squeamish about being slimmed...

And then we tried to feed them. They didn't want the grass, so I grabbed some lettuce. One of them seemed to curl around it, giving it a taste, but quickly decided it wasn't that tasty and it made a be-line for the grassy knoll!

We read the Snail's Pace book, then the Story of the Root Children and then came inside to read another snail story from the wonderful series by Clara Dillingham Pierson. In the book, "Among the Meadow People", there is a story about a lazy snail who asks others to gather his food, because it's "too much work". Soon they get frustrated with him and stop gathering it, hoping that he will learn to carry his own weight. Unfortunately, he withers and they take pity on him, coming to his aide again. It has two wonderful lessons in it about helping others because it is the right thing to do and about the dangers of not working hard for things we want or need in life. This book was originally published in 1901.

There are several books in the series, including "Among the Forest People", "Among the Night People", "Among the Pond People", and "Among the Farmyard People". Each contains memorable little tales about the creatures that inhabit those places and it's a nice way to introduce some science and knowledge in a colorful and imaginative, fun way. Here are two pictures from the Meadow People book...

The books were recently reprinted by Yesterday's Classics, but are also in the public domain now and can be found here for free:

What a fun day it turned out to be - we learned so much about snails by just watching and playing with them. It turned into a mini-unit study for us :) We even made more snail bread that night and munched up Old Father Sliffslaff-Slibberslak, in bread form only, of course :)

"If you tell me, I will listen.
If you show me, I will see.
But if you let me experience, I will learn."
~ Lao-tzu


  1. The Root Children is a beautiful book! So many snails! My children absolutely adore snails. We have a vegetable garden at our home and the snails are regularly relocatd away from the veggies to the far side of the garden, but usually make their way back...LOL

  2. Those snails are so cute! We adore snails and have never needle felted one. I will have to show Sofi your pictures. Sofi is 10 and she is always inspired by other children.

  3. Hi Jen! Your daughter's snail turned out great. What a wonderful way to integrate the literature. I'll have to find these wonderful books that you mentioned.

  4. Thanks, guys! Linda - I had to chuckle at your comment about the snails making their way back to the veggies and do you blame them?!?! I bet your veggies in South Africa are scrumptuous :)!

    Kristie, Sofi is amazingly creative, from what I've seen on your blog. I watched the wool spinning video and she was so cute on there during the interview! She really seemed to enjoy the process :) Would love to see how her snail turns out, if she decides to make one!

    And Jennifer, another Waldorfy momma mentioned those books for science. I love how "alive" things come with living books like that. I find that the girls are waaaaay more interested in hearing tales, rather than reading dry/bland factual books, for sure :) We're really trying to take it easy on academics until they get older, so I love finding things like this where they are being fed intellectually, but on a creative scale that they can better relate to and enjoy :)

    Thanks for the comments, all! Blogging is really fun!

  5. What wonderful fun with snails! I love the felty one, so cute! hank you for the book selections, too!

  6. Hi Jen
    How wonderfully all that snail discovering came together so naturally. We love the Clara Dillingham Pierson series you mention and we love snails too! Your daughter's needle felted snail is so sweet.