Here at Led by the Wild we love gnomes. Going on gnome hunts, telling gnome stories, carving gnomes, making gnome villages…if gnomes do exist, then they most certainly exist in Whites Wood. We even have Jo, our very own gnome expert in residence, who is always looking for an opportunity to sneak some gnome-related magic into our day.
What is a Gnome?
Earth-dwellers, subterranean creatures, spirits of the underworld, little wild men…these mythological creatures have taken a variety of different names and appearances. Their origins date back to the 16thCentury, described as creatures that move through solid earth as easily as we move through air and fish through water. Often described as hard-working, these tough little folk guarded mines and precious underground treasures. Gnomes were tribal and war-like, crafty and intelligent. As the centuries went by, the term ‘gnome’ became almost synonymous with other names of little creatures such as goblins and dwarves. They mostly lost their underground and earth-dwelling association and are more recently viewed as more ‘over-ground’ folk who take on roles as guardians of the forest or garden. The gnomes in modern-day stories and gardens are a more light-hearted bunch, often portrayed as shy but mischievous!
Gnome Book List for Little Ones
Pip the Gnome and the Forest Feast – Daniela Drescher
Pip the Gnomes Bedtime – Daniela Drescher
Pippa and Pelle in the Spring Garden- Daniela Drescher
Pippa and Pelle in the Summer Sun- Daniela Drescher
Pippa and Pelle in the Autumn Wind- Daniela Drescher
Pippa and Pelle in the Winter Snow- Daniela Drescher
Tompten Tales – Astrid Lingarten’s
As we journey into December, our Forest School leaders were excited to discover some Christmas gnome connections! L. Frank Baum, the author of the Oz series, created a Gnome King who trades a string of reindeer sleigh bells for each toy given by Claus to his gnome children. J.R.R. Tolkein describes how the Red Gnomes helped Father Christmas and his elves to fight the wicked goblins. We will certainly be introducing some gnomes into our Christmas storytelling!
So let us share with you how gnomes have recently inspired a nursery session…
It all started with a letter…
One blustery morning, not too long ago, a group of children and adults were gathered in a circle when they noticed a tiny envelope hanging in the trees. ‘Help!’ the envelope read. Everyone leaned in. So many questions on the tips of their tongues, but they were all quiet as a letter was pulled out and read aloud. A local group of gnomes have lost their hats in the wind! Their heads are cold and they need help to find the missing headgear. Tiny pegs adorned a washing line nearby.
“We have to help them!” a child cried.
Without further ado, everyone got up and started to hunt for the hats. They searched in the lower branches of Hornbeam trees, amongst moss and leaf debris on the forest floor, in the base of an Oak tree and high up on twigs that the children had to reach by standing on their tip-toes. Everyone worked together and many hats were found! Tiny red, green and spotty hats (made of the finest felt) were hung up on the washing line with great care by the children. The hats were left and the Forest School session continued.
Throughout their play, the children kept talking about the gnomes. Gnome houses were made, wooden gnomes were dressed, larger gnomes travelled up and down trees using pulleys, ropes and baskets. Pip the gnome stories were enjoyed together. Children lost their hats and found them again. Many children (and adults!) kept glancing over to the washing line to check for the hats. There was definitely magic in the air.
Just as the day was drawing to a close, a boy rushed over to the group. “The hats! The hats are gone!” he shouted.
Sure enough, those tiny hats had indeed disappeared. The children were glad that the gnomes would have warm heads once again. Eyes wide, tired children broke out in huge smiles and excited chatter as they proudly left the forest. Here in Whites Wood, the day will always be remembered when the Little Explorers were led by the gnomes.