Showing posts with label toddlers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label toddlers. Show all posts

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, 

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