DIY Waldorf. For poor people.


Ok, so maybe that’s not pc. We’re not called “poor people”. Maybe financially challenged. Maybe “ascribing to the poverty bracket”.

We’re perpetually broke. Welcome to parenting, right?

That is not the point of this post. The point of this post, actually, is to empower people to practice Waldorf on their own without inhibitions.

Of course, I’m being vague. A quick search of Ostheimer toys, Stockmar liquid watercolors, play silks, Waldorf playstands, birthday rings, Waldorf dolls, and anything felted will have you walking away thinking that you might need to take out a student loan just to pay for your child’s homeschooling. Think again.

I’ve done some research of Waldorf education and values, and here are the principals that I thought I’d highlight today:

  • Children learn through play and exploration
  • Sensory stimulation is both a form of play and education
  • Imagination is integral to learning and developing as a whole human being
  • Children learn life skills through working alongside us and pretending to do “real life” work
  • Television and advertising are naturally toxic for children and rob them of their imagination
  • Toys bought at most stores are based on entertaining a child, rather than allowing them to entertain themselves
  • Routine is crucial
  • Music IS math
  • Self-esteem is not built through praise, but subtle recognition and independence
  • Children have natural problem solving skills
  • A non-moving body is a poorly one
  • Ritual gives children a sense of order in a world based on the abstract concept of time which they do not understand

And I think that’s enough mind-blowing for today HA!

That being said, please, by all means, read all of these books which I gleaned FOR FREE from my library, which participates in the inter-library loan system:

IMG_6645 They are Seven Times the Sun, Toymaking with Children, Beyond the Rainbow Bridge, Well I Wonder, and Nature for the Very Young.

That is the first step to Waldorf, pobre style. Your library is your biggest asset. The minimalist in me reminds us that WE are not meant to be libraries, hoarding away books in our home that we only glance at every now and again- that is what libraries and sharing is for. Let’s share our books, and take notes if necessary.

Children’s books are necessary too, and you can also get them at the library.


The second step is to never ever ever order a Waldorf catalog unless your husband is a neurosurgeon. You will cry at the beauty and break out your credit cards. Just kidding. The second step forward is to make things.

Unhealthy consumerist behavior aside, Toymaking With Children will exemplify that you should MAKE your children’s toys. This is the very ESSENCE of Waldorf- making with your children or around them (sometimes they’re too young, like mine). Think of the difference in lessons between your child receiving a $99 Ostheimer nativity set vs them watching you whittle it from branches in the back yard. This is a piece of old fabric that I dyed with liquid watercolors to make a rainbow silk. Look how it livens up the raw backyard!


What if you’re not crafty? Learn. After all, these are lifeskills, and if you don’t learn, how are you going to teach your children? If they are grown, learn alongside them. You have nothing to be afraid of except failure- and failure helps us LEARN and GROW! What a great opportunity to realize how human you are and to teach your kids how to dust themselves off and get up again…

The third is to think objectively about what you need. This is a chipped pottery dish that I foraged at a thrift shop, along with these shells. For children, baskets (which are in abundance at most yard sales and thrift shops) full of feathers, stones (which you can even paint), shells, sea glass, interesting sticks, and other things from nature are integral to play, and lead to many imaginative games.


Art is a must. It’s part of our daily activities. But I have a tiny apartment, and was really concerned about where I would put it. SO I used some twine and some pushpins to put up some lines in the kitchen.


Notice everyone has their own little line because mom makes art alongside them.


I don’t have fancy watercolor supplies, but I do have two artists boards, masking tape to tape the edges of watercolor paper (to prevent warping when wet), and watercolors. The kids didn’t notice…


Speaking of which, here is the gluten free play dough I made for “baking”.

The other thing I have mentioned is that we can’t exactly follow some of the ritualistic aspects of Waldorf as far as the songs and such are concerned. I found some great songs on youtube by Dawud Wharnsby Ali, and this is a watercolor with the verses on it, which I have hung in our art area. It helps both me and my oldest to begin remembering the words, so that eventually, rather than all singing and dancing along, we can play it independently. I’m currently looking to buy a duff, an Islamic drum. We have shakers and such right now. I’ve collected quite a few neat little instruments for the kids. But if I hadn’t, I would have made some.

And my absolute favorite DIY Waldorf would be our “playstand”. I live in a 720sqft apartment with 2 children. Even if we could afford Waldorf playstands, I’m not sure where I’d put them. I always have allowed the kids to build tents in the common areas with various old sheets and tapestries, but the rainbow silk I made is nice because it lets more light in. Even better, when the day is done, helping the children understand that it’s cleanup time is easier. On days we don’t make our tent, the kitchen and washer/dryer toys are readily accessible in their usual stations.

IMG_6616Yep. That’s our entire livingroom.


Our tv entertainment center is an old bureau, and I can’t keep the dvd player and such on this shelf because my son is Mr. Destructo, so instead, I let him keep household toys there.



Indoor clothes racks are both collapsible and cheaper.


If you use the couch, you’ve got an upstairs. This is Abe’s “room” where he is eating pizza.


Of course, there’s his babies.

Well, and aside from following along with Toymaking with Children to problem solve making Waldorf dolls and carved figures, that’s really the basics! I’ll continue to touch more on the subject as we go along!




19 thoughts on “DIY Waldorf. For poor people.

  1. This post brings back so many wonderful memories of being creative with our two children in the wonder years of homeschooling…They are both teens now and still very creative… both write music lyrics, and play an instrument…Great job on improvising on supplies… even if you were rich, why pay the extra money when you can make do and get wonderful results? Keep up the good work!

  2. yes. yes. yes. Great post. Your rainbow “playsilk” is beyond gorgeous. I literally laughed out loud at this “The second step is to never ever ever order a Waldorf catalog unless your husband is a neurosurgeon. You will cry at the beauty and break out your credit cards.”!! And I*I never thought of indoor drying racks… great idea.

    And I am begging you to add this to this week’s Eco-Kids Tuesday!

  3. Wow, I love this post. I feel pulled towards everything about Waldorf..except the price tag on most things! I have a Waldorf inspired home daycare and I make little toys and gnomes for our seasonal nature table. Check out the tutorials on my blog if you wish. We have some play silks but not such a big beautiful one like you made. I’d love to know how you actually dyed the fabric? Jana

  4. Pingback: 2013 Gift Roundup | Kate's Apartmentsteading

  5. I do agree that Waldorf education is expensive From various reasons. My kids were in Waldorf education for several years and I think this article misses 2 very important aspects of Waldorf education. First, the community, you can make a community without waldorf or try to make waldorf community or playgroup but I do think it’s very important for kids. The other thing is that in the first 7 years children learn only through imitation. That means the parent have to try and be a role model. At waldorf, the teachers in the kindergarten are a role model (at least supposed to be but from what I saw they usually are). I don’t say all parents in waldorf are a role model but if you want to do it at home it is very important since you are not backed up by the kindergarten. In conclusion, I think if you do have some money the first years are the most important. But of course, you can do it at home. I think even the design of the home and the order can make a change.

  6. Bravo ! As a parent a preschool teacher I appreciate it.. I try to keep Waldorf inclusive as it should be..🌈

  7. Pingback: Waldorf, Roadschooling & The Best School Ever - A Little Moxie

  8. Fabulous post! LOVE that your blog is real and tells it like it is – embracing the reality, not selectively sharing just the bits that look perfect (this is something I have found very little of in the world of Waldorf blogs, and something I strive to be mindful of when writing my own). Very glad to have stumbled upon your blog today. Thank you!

  9. This is great, thank you! There’s a lot I love about Waldorf, but the price tags and sometimes rigid dogma can make this approach inaccessbile for most people. What a shame! I love how you’ve distilled it down to the basic elements. So beautiful!

    One thing…I hope you recognize that as far as apartment dwellers go, you’re pretty rich! A backyard??!! We have about 600 sq.ft of indoor living space and no yard, just a small concrete porch. Still, I’m inspired by what you’re doing. It’s good to see true, simple living that brings abundance!

  10. So much yes. Thanks for making Waldorf feel accessible on a single income, and for making us “poor people” feel innovative rather than failures. It’s empowering to know I’m not alone in the art of making it work!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s