Showing posts with label natural toys. Show all posts
Showing posts with label natural toys. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Crafting Waldorf Daily Color and Grain Gnomes (Plus a Tutorial)

We've been quite busy here this week! It seems like we've been bogged down with chores and the like, with a few good play dates thrown in there! Last week the kids and I traveled a bit, to Charlottesville (to pick peaches) and Dumfries (to visit my best friend). So I am a bit, how do I sat it?- oh yes- EXHAUSTED.

In a about a week and a half, we will all go on vacation to Hatteras North Carolina too. I am very excited, but as many of you know vacation with little ones is also work. Work to pack and ready the house as well as work when we get there. But I consider it good fun work. 

When I get tired and boxy, I find it very therapeutic to work on a craft project. This project has been bouncing around in my head for some time now. I have been meaning to incorporate more Waldorf rhythm in out lives the more we learn about Steiner's daily grains and colors. With the new school year only a month or so away for us, I thought it might be a good idea to get together some more materials that we'll be using- like these gnomes!

I plan on using these little guys on the children's breakfast and snack table. Each morning I will have the pull out and set in the center the gnome of the day. I plan on using the grains in their breakfasts and snacks- or if it's bread baking day then we'll use a recipe that includes the grain of that day. I wrote a tutorial for them as well below so you can make your own! 

I find Steiner's ideas on grains and diet as well as bio-dynamic farming fascinating! I could go into more of that here but Carrie at Parenting Passageway has done a better job at not only explaining Steiner's grains but also how she uses them as well as her thoughts surrounding gluten and diet. 

I would also like to temper this with a bit of advice for those new to Waldorf. Don't feel as if you have to begin to do the grains/colors/rhythm/ect all at once. I have know about grains and colors for awhile now and it's something I have been building up to gradually.  At first I stared incorporating more of the grains into my recipes and diet. I did not grow up in a family of healthy eaters. I must confess that I had no idea what barley and millet were until 3 years ago- among many other things! I was raised on fast food. So have heart! This has been a fun journey for me. I am learning to love cooking and baking more and more thanks to Waldorf. It warms my heart to know that my children will have lots of memories of cooking with me in our kitchen.

Now here is the tutorial!

These little guys were very easy to make. No stitching. My daughter helped me paint them. I painted and wood burned the lettering. I used fabric and hot glue for the hats. We collected the acorn caps ourselves.  

So here are the steps on how to make these little guys!

Materials Needed:
I included links to the supplies I use and where you can get them. I have also found wooden peg dolls and pots at AC Moore and Michaels. A few weeks ago I even saw some thicker wool felt there. However when possible I love to support smaller businesses on ETSY. I also have had a hard time finding a natural non toxic fabric glue- but now I found one!
  • 7 small wooden peg dolls 
  • 7 small wooden pots 
  • Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, and white wool felt 
  • Fabric glue 
  • 7 medium sized acorn caps 
    • We got our own but if you happen to not live near an oak tree you can get caps on ETSY here
  • A wooden burning tool
  • Beeswax polish or Shellac (optional)
  • Watercolor paints
    • I highly recommend either stockmar or lyra paints, which are a lot more affordable. All other watercolors I have tried when crafting pale in comparison. 


1. Collect 7 small wood peg dolls and 7 wood pots. 
  • You can get these at your local craft store or on ETSY. Make sure to get the little pegs dolls, not the regular or large size. 

2. Break out your watercolor paints and paint 6 gnomes and 6 pots each one the color of the rainbow (ROYGBV). 

3. 1 gnome should be left blank (for white!). 

4. (optional)  Seal your gnomes and pots with with beeswax polish or  finish them with shellac.
  • I used shellac since I like them to shine a bit. Shellac is non-toxic and natural. 

5. Using the base of one of your pots as template, cut 7 felt circle using all you colors. 

6. Set out all your 7 gnomes, pots, felt circle, and acorn caps. 
  • The gnomes and pots should be dry an finished at this point.

7. Glue your acorn cap to the center of the felt circle. Then dap some glue onto the top of your gnome's head and place the felt circle and cap on top of his head. 
  • It should be like a glue sandwich: Acorn cap-glue-felt circle-glue-gnome's head.
8. Repeat this step with all 7 gnomes. 

9. Once they are all dry, paint and/or wood burn the days of the week onto your gnome's body. I just used the abbreviations. 

10. Then paint or wood burn the coordinating grains on to the gnome's pot. For the white pot, I left it natural and added glitter to it and then sealed it with shellac. 
  • Feel free to paint it white if you have white paint. I only have stockmar at home right now so I didn't have white on hand, ha! 

Sunday-White- Wheat
Monday- Purple- Rice
Wednesday- Yellow-Millet
Thursday- Orange- Rye
Friday- Green- Oat
Saturday- Blue- Corn

11. Then enjoy them! As you can see they're easy and your child of almost any age can help. Those are the crafts I love the best. 

Linking up this week with Frontier DreamsMagic OnionsNatural Suburbia, and Crafty Moms Share and a few others! Please check out my 'where I party' page! 


If you would like to find more recipe using these grains I highly recommend the The Waldorf Kindergarten Snack Book.
  Also check out Carrie's article above

Also if you make these little guys, please come back and share your creations with me! I would love to share them on my blog or if you already do grains and daily colors, I'd love to know how you incorporate them into your home and rhythm!

Until next time!
Love and Light,

Friday, June 21, 2013

Bringing Nature In :: Part I :: The Playroom

Play is the mechanism by which children learn—how they experience their world, practice new skills, and internalize new ideas—and is therefore the essential “work of children”.
- Dr. Vivian Paley from her book, "A Child's Work: The Importance of Fantasy Play"

Through play, children learn
about the world and engage in activities
that encourage their cognitive, emotional, and social development. 

- Dr. David Elkind from his book, "The Power of Play: How Spontaneous, Imaginative Activities Lead to Happier and Healthier Children"

When people hear that I am a Waldorf homeschooler, the first question they usually ask is, “What is Waldorf “? The second most times is, “I love your toys, but why so simple? Why open ended? Do they really help”? Well, I am here to say that yes they do help and it's not just Waldorf teachers and advocates who say this. It's also prominent child developmental psychologists, former public school teachers, and linguists who say the same thing- that children need to play, that their play does not need to be tinkered with by adults, and that children need suitable, simple, opened ended toys to play with in order to get the most out of their play.  This is precisely where Waldorf, and other educational philosophies, get it right and do it well.

What then could be more simple that having a basket full of natural toys in your playroom? You don't need expensive blocks. You don't even need expensive toys. Really a basket of shells, rocks, and pine cones will do!

Children can get overloaded by too many toys. It overwhelms their senses and it can diminish their play and focus. I know we've all been there too when we walk in our bedrooms at night and have to tidy it up before our minds will calm down and sleep. It is the same for children.

Joan Almon, Coordinator of the U.S. branch of the Alliance for Childhood, and former chair of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, said that "children were most relaxed and played best if the space was fairly simple but pleasing to the senses. It should be calming and lovely, but not so beautiful and complete that the children hesitate to move anything or disturb the order". This is where we as adults can step in and help. We can create environments for our children that are relaxed, beautiful, and filled with natural and  simple toys. In a way that they will not be overwhelmed or underwhelmed.

We also need to make sure that children can easily clean up their playrooms. Almon goes on to say "Play is a messy business in the best sense of the word, for it is hard to create without making a mess. A good play environment invites you to come in and change it – but it is orderly enough that it is easy to clean it up again. There’s a place for everything and it becomes fun for the children to know where each object lives and put it back at the end of play time."

So this Autumn, as your child’s play turn inward and takes place indoors more often, why not try bringing more nature in? Reassess what toys you have in your home and how you have set them up. Does every toy have an simple home to sit when play is done? When you sit in the room do you feel calm or cluttered? If your answer is the latter, than your child might feel the same way too. Over and over again as I was researching why natural simple and open-ended toys were best, again and again, researcher after research said that the simpler the play materials, the more effective they are at stimulating play. And if play if the child's' most "essential work" then ensuring that we bring nature indoors for them and having open ended toys for should therefore be our essential work as their parents.