"Waldorf" toys fall right in line with toys suggested by Play Therapists 9/10 times, which is why I LOVE them. Yes, they're often aesthetically pleasing and never annoying to the ears, but I love them because they're open ended and always inspire imagination.
New to Waldorf education or doing an overhaul in your playroom? Here are the essentials to start with!
Grimms Rainbow Stacker: These can be used for ANYTHING! Tunnels, caves, ramps, roads, rainbow, circles, mazes, pattern making... Grimms Rainbow Stacker is #1 on my list.
Sarahs Silks: these beautifully crafted silks feature whimsical pprints and colors to inspire creativity in the young child. They can be used as ropes, satchels, slings, crowns, capes, dresses, blankets, or the foundation for creating a beautiful, magical play world. Sign up for Play Silks in the mail and get a new one mailed directly to your child for $15 a month.
Waldorf Play Stand: Children thrive in framed spaces and nooks. It blocks out external stimuli and llows them to enter the play realm further. A play stand can be a readink nook, library, store, home, fort, castle, post office, school, or simply a place to play with miniatures undistracted. The child leads and decides what the play stand will be each day.
Felt Food: Plastic food is cold and dead in the hand. Felt food warms and feels enlivened to the child during play because its made of materials that were once alive. The felt was once connected to a living creature and remains alive to the child. Papoose Toys and Etsy are wonderful shops for beatuful, handmade felt food and toys.
Pikler Triangle: This is a wonderful tool for active toddlers to explore and move freely. Toddlers are developing spatial awareness and gross motor play assists in developing that area of the brain and creating a sense of grounding.
Click the link below to shop Waldorf inspired toys on Amazon!
The untrained mind can accomplish nothing.
I come across people everyday who experience daily setbacks and obstacles as though they're catastrophic. A good day can literally become the worst day of their entire lives because they got cut off in traffic or someone took too long at Starbucks. The rollercoaster of emotions felt by this individual are subjective and can be kept balanced through perception.
Perception is the key to happiness.
These same people have bought into the belief that they are who they are and they cannot change. They describe themselves in terms like anxious, shy, stubborn, cynical as though these terms are definitive and perhaps genetic even. That they ARE this way because of life experiences and they blame their parents, their pasts, and their current circumstances for who tey are and wo they will be.
These feelings are biproducts of thought processes; a faulty belief system that is controlling the inner workings of the mind and therefore the energy and vibrations this person sends out through their feelings. It's all connected! We are all connected.
If you can think of yourself as a part of the universe; a complex systems of atoms and energy. Positive energy attracts positive energy and negative energy attracts negative energy. Each person is connected to one another and people are connected to all things including nature, science, plants, animals, energy...the world. If we can train our minds to welcome obstacles as assignment from the universe to further develop ourselves and we continue to choose love over fear, positive over negative, we are inviting positive things- abundance into our lives from all angles. We can change the course of our lives only through perception.
Here are a few things you can do immediately to change your energy field and thought processes:
1. Decrease mental clutter. Purge your home of excess of things that don't bring you joy. Clean out the toy box, book shelves, ipod music, car, pantry, and closets of things that bring you down or distract you from your goals.
2. Cut out the zeros. You are the average of the 5 people closest to you. Surround yourself only with people that lift you up and bring you joy; however that may be.
3. Actively engage in activites that bring you joy and say "no" to that which doesn't serve you and make no apologies. Feel no guilt.
4. Invite obstacles as opportunities to improve self. Reframe the way you view setbacks. Being cut off in traffic is an opportunity to develop patience. A stressful deadline at work is an opportunity to practice time management. A child's tantrum is an opportunity to show unconditional love.
5. Fill your body with positive energy. You are what you ate ATE. Feed your gut living organisms from happy farms. Produce, nuts, herbs, and ethically raised livestock (if you're a meat eater) is another way of inviting the positive energy of the world into your personal universe.
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Your experience is unique. There is no "one size fits all" approach to healing!
The Greeks describe concepts of atomism, mthyology, cosmology in terms of the four elements- air, fire, earth, water. This helped the Greeks understand both the physical and spiritual world. Our young children connect with the world, and therefore the self through connection to these elements and psychologists and philosophers such as Rudolph Steiner categorize human personalities into four temperments based on these elements. In Steiners work, he describes children as being Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic, or Phlegmatic. Even philosophers, and authors such as AA Milne, author of the Winnie-the-Pooh stories, and Candace Bushnell, creator of Sex and the City have used these four temperaments in the development of their characters to better connect with audiences.
Winnie the Pooh's characters, Tigger, Pooh, Piglet, and Eeyore have strong personalities, relateable by everyone who reads about their adventures. Children can connect with either knowing someone like them or being someone like them. Many children may feel like Piglet, but desire to be more like Tigger. The four main characters of Sex and the City represent the many different sides of a well-rounded woman; however, individually they're a representation of the developing woman, one who has more dominant sides of self than one who has achieved balance.
So how do we help our children achieve balance using what we know about self and the four elements? Create opportunities to connect with nature and play with these elements. Bring these elements into our homes and create rich, meaningful connections with them away from home.
Fire: Using candles at bedtime and dinner, going camping and building bonfires, and lighting the fireplace in the evening or on a cold night are all meaningful ways to include fire at home and either connect with a "fire" child or bring out the fire of a "water" child. Playing with fire elements such as melting ice in the summer sun or drawing with charcoal ignite new energy in the developing child. Perhaps blazing a bowl at a local kiln or visiting a glass blowing shop and observing a demo are posible in your area. Also, be sure to keep a thermometer on a window of the home. Our weather apps are too abstract for the developing child to truly grasp temperature change and seasonal elements and theres great value in removing technology as a crutc when you can. Bake together, too!
Water: Humans are mostly made up of water so humans have always been attracted to water and connected with water in different ways. Children love bath time, splash pads, waterparks, and beach time, but they also enjoy playing with water and using water tables and toys. Other water activities may include washing dirty dishes or muddy animals in a soapy bin, washing the family car, playing a game of sink or float in a sensory bin, or painting with watercolors. Waldorf education uses "wet on wet" to introduce colors and encourages telling elaborate beautiful stories about the colors as though they're living. A water gage is fun to keep outdoors in the yard or garden. An older child can track the rain and begin to make the connection between rain and plant life or changes in temperature.
Air: This element is very calming for children that feel tight and highly anxious. Blowing up a balloon, blowing bubbles, or meditative deep breaths help the anxious child recenter, but air play with toy planes and parachutes or fashioning a sailboat from bark and thin fabric allow children to explore this element in nature. Take the family to fly a kite on a windy day and share stories like Pippa and Pelle and the Autumn Wind every fall! Hang windchimes outdoors and enjoy the beatuful sound of the chimes each time the wind blows.
Earth: Playing with the element of earth is perhaps one of the easiest to pull off as earth takes so many forms and is so readily available to us to harness in its many forms. Explore parks, tree climbing, mud pits, sandboxes, and rock quarries together freely without agenda, but its also wonderful to bring earth into the home. Playing with mud, clay, and modeling beeswax not only build fine motor muscles, but draw on the childs natural curiosity about the world. Beeswax crayons warm in the hand and inspire creativity in a way a synthetic medium simply cannot do!
Please check out my podcast on The Four Elements on apple podcasts, Whole Heart: Crunchy Parenting and be sure to subscribe. Also find my youtube channel "Chelsea Vail Whole Heart".
Thank you for loving your children enough to expand your knowledge on how they love and learn! Be well.
Parenting expert, blogger, inventor, single mom to twins, barefoot nomad, adventure seeker, boho spirit, advocate of play