Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fostering Block Play and Creating Waldorf Blocks


One of the things that first drew me to Waldorf Education were it's toys. I know I am not the only one either whose been drawn in this way. The beauty. The simplicity. The wonder. Ironically when I first discovered Waldorf,  I was in school finishing up my BA and Masters in Teaching! Waldorf Education had been mentioned in some of my courses, but it took a Nova Natural catalog from my friend Sarah L. to really begin a direction change. I also at the time had an almost 3 and 9 month old and felt a bit directionless in our home. Yes we had our faith. Yes we had a great parenting helpmate with Love and Logic. But something was missing. But again, I digress... Suffice to say, I am so thankful that Sarah gave me that catalog!

On the subject of toys, I continue to be reminded that less is really more. Now that we've been on our Waldorf journey for almost 3 years, we accumulated lots of lovely Waldorf fluff (fluff is a word that Melissa Nielsen of Waldorf Essentials uses to describe all the lovely enchanting toys and things that tends to draw us initially to Waldorf. While the 'fluff' is GREAT and oh so much fun, it is not the heart behind Steiner's work and educational philosophies). The fluff does points to the heart of Waldorf though, but it's important to not get too caught up in it and miss the true beauty of nurturing your children's head, heart, and hands. Ironically - or not so much- much of Waldorf's pedagogy (and why it really does work) was supported scientifically by what I was learning in my Teaching program. Whether it was or could be implemented in the public classroom is a whole different blog post and topic all together. I do however recommended the documentary "The American Teacher". It's great food for thought.

At any rate, that was a HUGE digression. As you can see I am digging reading Steiner, Melissa, and Rahima. But back to less is more. My kiddos are going through a neat block phase. They go through it from time to time but I was realizing that we don't have many blocks. Block play is a critical milestone in a baby and toddler's development. As they get older, the way in which they play with blocks as well as frequency significantly impacts their math skills later on in life- in a good way. Children who played with blocks often have significantly better math tests scores in 7th grade. I wonder if Steiner knew that? Ha! While I don't care so much about test scores, needless to say block play is important, fun, and super easy to encourage. 






Do you need more blocks? Do you live near a forest or a few trees? Well problem solved. Last week I went out and decided to make some Waldorf branch blocks. All you need are some nice dry branches, sand paper, a saw, rub on polyurethane, shellac or beeswax polish, and some elbow grease (LITERALLY if you are using a hand saw. Ouch!)




And here is my finished product!







Pretty nice, eh?

So next time you're tempted to buy more fluff check and see if you have any good blocks first. If not go make some. My kids helped me sand them and pick out the branch. 

Are your kids into blocks right now? What are their favorite blocks? What types of games do they play with them? Have you ever made blocks? Please comment and let me know- I am curious!

Until next time, 
Cheers!
-Nicole

Also Our $75 Nova Natural giveaway is still going on until 7/19!
Don't forget to enter!

13 comments:

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    1. You do! Nice! I think I might get addicted. However I think I'd like to get an electric saw of sorts. It'd be much quicker. I broke my left wrist and had pins in 8 years ago so it got really sore from the sawing. I swear all my friend's children and my family are getting branch blocks for Christmas this year now though!

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  2. What a great idea! We have an awful lot of trees where we live (in Maine), so this sounds like a great idea! My kids love to play with "nature." Whenever we go outside it seems like they start with their toys, but the would much rather play in the mud and find rocks and twigs for fairy houses.

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    1. oh I bet Maine is lovely this time of year! Having a mud kitchen outside was one of the best things I think I've done for them outdoors. Also I have fewer holes in my yard now that they have a designated one!!!

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  3. Those are lovely. It would be interesting to branches from different types of trees to see the colour difference. Interesting about the link between block play and test scores. My oldest has always loved playing with blocks, and he's an absolute whiz at math.

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    1. Super neat about your oldest and blocks! Thanks for visiting. I will have to look into using a different type of wood next time. I saw one link on pinterest of cut blocks from different wood types that were all different colors. I would love some of those blocks!

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  4. Beautiful! This has been on my to-list for a while. Thanks for the tut!

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    1. You're welcome! If you make any, please share your en product! I'd love to see them.

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  5. Those are stunningly beautiful. We have some wooden painted blocks that go in our block bin (along with some plastic ones), but I think my husband would have a fit if I made some more lol.

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    1. Thank you so much! Ah hubbies! They are so wonderful, yet I so know where you are coming from with bringing in more goodies. From time to time Craig will give the coked eyebrow and say, "really?". :)

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  6. These are lovely! Just found you through a link party and am looking forward to exploring more of your blog.
    -Ann from My Nearest and Dearest

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    1. Thank you Ann! Please come back and welcome! Link parties are the best!

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  7. Those look wonderful!! Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!

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