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This post is part of the ‘Educating Joyfully Explores’ series, a selection of resources which introduce key concepts, materials, and pedagogies frequently discussed in the home education/joyful childhood community.
In education (particularly Home Ed) Instagram land, there are many an item, material, pedagogy and curriculum that are casually mentioned, often appearing somewhat bewilderingly as 'common knowledge'. It is very easy to feel a little out of your depth, and out of the loop, if you’re new to learning more about the joy of a free childhood and alternative education. The humble Celebration Ring was previously an example of this for me. Late night 'gram scrolling brought me to a gorgeous wooden ring bestowed with images, candles, natural items and wooden figures. I had no idea what it was, but it looked beautiful, and I could already see the potential it had. So, I thought, let's do a bit of research. I was right in my thinking that there is huge potential in this little beauty, so I felt it was only fair to share this information with the familial and educational context as a focus!
After my searches, it turned out this beautiful creature was the Grimms Celebration Ring. If you’re new to natural wooden toys, Grimms are a German company who create hand crafted wooden construction toys (you may have seen the infamous Grimms Rainbow), blocks, figures, calendars and more. The standard Celebration Ring comes in four parts, with four holes in each one. These holes are filled with candles, figures, photographs and wooden figures. Each segment sits together to form a circle, though, as you'll see from an example below, these can be separated up to create smaller individual displays too.
But what exactly is this for, and why use it? The Celebration Ring is used to mark festivals, events, birthdays and seasons throughout the year, in a concrete visual way. Wooden figures can be changed to reflect a family member’s birthday, or decorated to reflect a particular season. The middle of the ring can be used for food items, or foraged natural materials. The options really are endless! While the ring is not specifically created to fit a particular educational philosophy or pedagogy, it lends itself well to the Steiner/Waldorf and Charlotte Mason philosophies, both of which I will eventually be curating some resources around. For Steiner/Waldorf, the inclusion of family rituals and importance of celebrating festivals/seasons are beautifully aligned with this ring, which can act as a physical representation of the passing days in conjunction with the children in your life. For Charlotte Mason practitioners, natural resources can be collected when out in nature and included in the ring, as well as perhaps child-drawn images of what has been collected or found. Regardless of where you sit in the educational world, the ring is doubtless a lovely addition to family routines and is a beautiful way to spark conversations with your children. Below are a few different uses of the ring from homeschooling/childhood enthusiasts!
A beautiful Winter/festive set up by @themummyhomestead. Hannah has combined Grimms wooden figurines with candles as well as a lovely fairy snow scene in the centre!
Over here we have a lovely set-up from Mandy of @childhoodofwonder. Felted fairies and autumnal creatures set a beautiful scene to represent thanksgiving.
And finally, a birthday set up from Natassja at @booksandlittles. Natassja has a coloured segment for her Grimms ring here, bought in Germany.
Are you persuaded? Seeing images like these were certainly enough to get us into the idea! Read on for my best tips for getting started.
Getting started with your ring
The beauty of a free and joyful childhood is being flexible and choosing what works best for your family. To that end there is a real range of items you can select for your ring and there truly is no ‘correct’ or ‘right way’ to integrate this into your home! However, I know that when first looking into getting into the Celebration Ring joy, I would have appreciated a bit of a ‘how to’ guide! So, I’ve included below some starting points for things to include in your ring. I’ve divided them into ‘functions’ and ‘decorations’. Please note I’ve linked these to the sites I’ve purchased from (mainly Amazon and Babipur) but there are absolutely individual sellers in places like Etsy that will create beautiful pieces that fit the ring - and you can even make your own items! If you are a maker of these please comment below, or send me a message as I’d love to share what you do.
First are functional items. These items give you plenty of options to include lots of different bits on your ring. You'll of course need the ring itself. I've linked the ring I have, which is a 12 hole version. For me this gives enough space without overwhelm, and could eventually be used to represent twelve months of the year, however there are certainly smaller and larger options. Next up, you'll likely want to include candles in your ring to give that cosy atmosphere, as well as utilising for birthdays and other celebrations. Grimms use 1.4cm diameter candles, and you'll need brass candle holders which slot into the holes themselves, so as to not damage your ring. I also think the picture holders are a really lovely addition, as they give you the option to personalise your ring with family photos, artwork, letters etc that link to the theme you're going with.
Now onto the possibly more exciting part: decorations! Some of the most common choices here are Grimms made wooden figures, which include a small wooden circle at the bottom to fit the holes. We chose the twelve piece seasonal set that Babipur offer as a good starting point. Other than this, there is a real range of options via Grimms direct stocked on Amazon. You can take a look at the full range here. We personally love the fairy numbers, and traditional numbers to mark birthdays and also to use to represent the month of the year. You might like to incorporate wooden figures that represent flowers or elements of nature that fit the season, animals that are common at a certain type of year/in a certain climate, or even modes of transport that are a particular memory for your family.
Ways to extend the learning opportunities of your ring: reading
As the Celebration Ring offers you a concrete way to discuss celebrations, festivals, and seasons with your children, this is a lovely opportunity to springboard reading discoveries. If you've read anything around me/about me, you'll know my MEd is in Children's Literature, so if I can shoehorn in a book, I will!
Below are a few links to some lovely books that we would work well with recent/upcoming festivities, that you might like to mirror in your own ring.
Kwanzaa: My First Kwanzaa by Karen Katz
Seasons: Seasons by Hannah Pang
Well, that was a joy to write and curate! I really hope that this has helped you get to grips with the purposes and possibilities of the beauty that is a Celebration Ring. Please tag me on Instagram if you have your own or are thinking of it, I am @educatingjoyfully.