Abe and I have been working on some learning. This was vacation week, and since we’ve pretty much gotten rid of 75% of our belongings, I decided that this was a good opportunity to start shaping the home into our Waldorf classroom. Waldorf toys are expensive- plastic crap that leaves little to the imagination is much easier to find, and cheaper. But the long-term benefits are lacking, and they teach children that it’s ok to pollute the planet. Not to mention the instant-gratification factor.
Reading up on the two theories is crucial. I read a book called Montessori from the Start by Paula Polk Lillard, and am currently reading Montessori: Her Method and the Movement by R.C. Orem, simply because they were the available books at my library. After reading through them, I realized that Waldorf may be more appropriate for us, though I will be adapting some of the Montessori model, especially for independence and self-care. For Waldorf reading, I’ve ordered Toymaking with Children by Freya Jaffke, Seven Times the Sun by Shea Darian, and Beyond the Rainbow Bridge, by Barbara Patterson. All of these are recommended reads on the subject, but two useful sites for anyone interested would be Waldorf Homeschoolers and Waldorf in the Home.
The Waldorf Method isn’t actually to go out and buy a bunch of expensive toys. It’s more appropriate to make classroom materials and toys- especially with your children. By using natural materials, you’re showing your children reverence and exploration of the natural world. We’ve done a lot of scavenging at yard sales, second hand shops, and Craigslist, and have had very good results.
I began by using what we already had. Montessori method gives children replicas of everyday things in child form, to foster independence. My child is already able to put himself to bed, dress and undress, comb his hair, and clean up after himself, so working alongside me has been his next step in development. Unfortunately, things like kitchens and washing machines don’t come child size, but when blended with Waldorf method, pretend replicas of these items are perfectly genius.
First, we moved Abe’s play kitchen to the kitchen:
This was a homemade kitchen by a loving father and I got it for $40 on Craigslist. If you want to spend $200 on one from a catalog, by all means, but the internet (and Pinterest) is FULL of hacks and mods for making homemade kitchens for children. Making a kitchen would provide your child the opportunity to state how they would like it designed, and to help. Additionally, fake food tutorials are also available online. No need to buy expensive sets unless you’re afraid to experiment with a little felt ;)
Next, we moved Abe’s washer and dryer to the living area, which is around 2ft from the actual washer dryer, located in a hallway closet. You can also make your own washer and dryers!
Then we capitalized on the toys we already had, which lead to a period of re-discovery. What I found is that the fewer toys my son had, the more interest he took in them. Here is my old post for toys you can find on the market, and an overview of our working inventory at home.
But onwards and upwards- I wanted to make some learning toys. We’re in the process of projects, but this one was the first I completed.
I got six of these little wooden treasure boxes at the craft store for a dollar each:
Then I painted the inside bottom and lid. I painted the inside bottoms so that the color could be seen when the box was open. In case you’re not familiar with color theory, primary colors are red, blue, and yellow, and secondary colors are violet (made with blue and red), orange (made with yellow and red), and green (made with blue and yellow).
I live in a place where there are prevalent oak trees, so instead of buying wooden acorns, I just painted some that I had collected in the fall.
The game, of course, is to sort each by it’s own box.
There you have it! Stay tuned for more Montessori and Waldorf goodness!