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September 28th, 2014 | Art, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

 

Stockmar Beeswax Crayons

Happy Autumn, Friends!

Things have been humming at Bella Luna Toys this back-to-school season, leaving me with little time to record new videos for you. But not to worry, more will be coming soon!

Every week I get questions from readers and viewers, so rather than answer each one privately, I’ll share them here because I’m sure many of you have the same questions.

Francesca Asks:

This week I heard from Francesca who wrote:

I recently bought the 7 string song of the sea lyre from you. So now I was wondering if you could recommend me a book to learn to play it! This perhaps sounds silly but would love to learn to use it in order to play it for my daughter and in turn teach her!

I was also wondering if you would recommend beeswax block or stick crayons for a two year old? Some say block some say stick so a little unsure. Also when is it recommended to start watercolour painting?

Sarah Answers:

Dear Francesca,

Always happy to help!

I highly recommend the booklet we sell Familiar Songs for Pentatonic Playalongs. It has some basic guidelines on how to play the pentatonic harp or lyre, and is a collection of familiar folk songs in the pentatonic scale. It will help you pluck the notes to familiar tunes even if you don’t read music.

Unfortunately, there aren’t too many resources on how to play the pentatonic harp, but the good news is that there isn’t much to learn. The hardest part is getting the harp in tune. For help with that, you might want to watch my video on How to Tune Your Pentatonic Harp/Lyre.

Once it’s in tune, you can either strum it, or pluck the strings lightly with the pads of your fingers. You can play familiar songs that are in the pentatonic scale, or just improvise. Because of the nature of the pentatonic scale, anything you play will sound beautiful and in tune!

As for crayons, I would recommend block crayons for a two-year-old because they are virtually unbreakable. 2- and 3-year-olds are likely to put too much pressure on a stick crayon which will break.

By the age of 3½ to 4, I recommend giving a child stick crayons which will help develop the child’s “triangular” or “pencil grasp,” which is important for building their pre-writing skills and actually aids brain development.

With a two-year-old, it is important to use Stockmar crayons with adult supervision because the crayons can cause permanent marks on clothing and unfinished wood. (Crayon marks can usually be easily wiped off of finished wood surfaces with a soft cloth and a little oil.)

There has also been some disagreement among Waldorf teachers on whether stick or block crayons are more appropriate for young children. You can read my view on subject in my blog post Block Crayons vs. Stick Crayons in Waldorf Education.”

It is possible to give a two-year-old an experience of watercolor painting, but I would start by giving the child just one color to paint with at a time, and to paint along side them so that you can model the technique for them. You especially want to model very light strokes with the brush, because most two-year-olds will press too hard on the brush, scratching their paper with the ferule (the metal part of the brush that holds the bristles).

You could tell an imaginative little story about dipping the fairy’s wings in the paint and show how the fairy lightly brushes the color on the paper with her wings.

For a tutorial on wet-on-wet watercolor painting as practiced in Waldorf education, you can view my two-part video via these two links:

Wet-on-Wet Watercolor Painting Tutorial – Part 1

Wet-on Wet Watercolor Painting Tutorial – Part 2

Hope this is of some help, and that you enjoy many years of making art and music with your child!

Warmly,

Sarah

I love hearing your questions! Please leave your comments and questions here and I will do my best to answer as many as I can in a future video or blog post.

 

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September 4th, 2014 | Cooking | Permalink | Comments (0)

 

Making "Stone Soup" in Milano, Italia

Making “Stone Soup” in Milano, Italia

The email below that landed in my inbox today, totally made my day! Nothing makes me happier than hearing from viewers who have found some inspiration in my videos to try something new with their children. It is the most gratifying part of my work.

Thank you so much, Nancy for sharing!

Dear Sarah, 

Here are my children, Alfredo (age 5) and Marialena (age 3), singing their chopping song as we made Stone Soup this morning in our home in Milan, Italy. Our family watched your blog video about Stone Soup last week, and they have been excited to try it ever since. I made Stone Soup in nursery school over thirty years ago, and remembered it fondly as we watched you and your helpers do the same. This morning, the children and I chose vegetables at our neighborhood grocery shop, and bought “pane integrale” (whole-grain bread) to accompany it fresh from our corner baker. The soup smells delicious, and we can’t wait to let Daddy taste it at supper tonight!
Thank you for taking the time to make and post the Stone Soup video. We really enjoy watching your posts, and love seeing each new one (and trying several of your good ideas).
 
Warm regards,
Nancy V.

 

If you missed my video on “How to Make Stone Soup with Children” the first time around, you’ll find it a couple of posts below. If you try it, let me know how it turns out and share YOUR pictures!

Happy cooking!

Sarah Baldwin

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August 17th, 2014 | Art, Sunday With Sarah | Permalink | Comments (4)

 

Working With Modeling Beeswax: A Tutorial

Beeswax modeling is practiced in Waldorf education from preschool up through the grades, and has become an increasingly popular artistic activity at home among Waldorf families and homeschoolers, and has even gained widespread appeal in classrooms and homes beyond the Waldorf community.

After receiving multiple phone calls at Bella Luna Toys from customers complaining that the beeswax is “too hard” and was unusable, I realized that a video tutorial was in order!

The trick with using modeling beeswax is that it needs to be warmed up first to soften it.

In the video, I demonstrate several ways to do this:

  • In one’s hands
  • By putting it in a bowl full of warm water
  • By tucking it under your arm

Once the beeswax is warm, it becomes pliable and mold-able. The warmth and pleasant aroma of the beeswax is nourishing to a young child’s senses.

But the best thing about modeling beeswax is that it never dries out (like clay or play dough), and can be used over and over again.

So click on the link above to watch the video! If you’re new to beeswax modeling, I hope you’ll discover the joy of working with this unique medium. And if you’re a seasoned user of beeswax, I hope you’ll gain some new inspiration and insights into how and why it is used in Waldorf education.

Stockmar Modeling Beeswax

Stockmar Modeling Beeswax

You can the products demonstrated in the video at Bella Luna Toys:

May you and your children enjoy this precious gift from the bees!

Sarah

 

 

Have a question? Something to add? Your comments and questions are always welcome!

Please feel free to share photos of your family’s beeswax creations with me on Facebook or Instagram, and I may post them here!

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August 10th, 2014 | Nature, Outdoor Play, Sunday With Sarah | Permalink | Comments (1)

 

How to Build Fairy Houses

After a long summer break, I’m back with another “Sunday With Sarah” for you. I’ve missed you!

This week, I invited my friend Liza Gardner Walsh, author of The Fairy House Handbook  to join me to talk about the history of fairy houses in Maine, and I invited a couple of young friends along to demonstrate.

Building fairy houses is a wonderful outdoor activity that will deepen your child’s connection to nature and engage his or her imagination.

As Liza points out in the video, there are a couple of important rules to remember when building your fairy house:

  • Do not destroy or kill plants, trees or other living things to create your fairy house. Use only bark from fallen trees, or pick flowers (but not the roots).
  • Use only objects from nature that will naturally decompose and go back into the earth. Use no manmade items.

You can find the following books by Liza Gardner Walsh at Bella Luna Toys:

May many fairies inhabit your child’s creations!

Sarah

 

 

Where have your children built fairy houses? In the woods, on the beach, or in a park? Your comments and questions are always welcome!

If your children are experienced fairy house builders, or are inspired by this video, please share photos of their creations with me on Facebook or Instagram.

 

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May 4th, 2014 | bella luna toys, Cooking, Homemaking, Nutrition | Permalink | Comments (6)

 

Cooking with Children: How to Make “Stone Soup”

Children as young as 2- or 3-years old are capable of helping with cooking. Involving children with meal preparation teaches them real-life skills and helps them feel capable and confident.

This week on Sunday with Sarah I demonstrate how I made Stone Soup (vegetable soup) with the children in my kindergarten class.

Though I never use a recipe, here are the general instructions:

  1. Chop an apple and an onion. Peel and crush 2-4 cloves of garlic. Sauté the apples, onions and garlic in olive oil and about a tablespoon of butter.
  2. Add 2-3 bouillon cubes, or 2-3 T. of bouillon paste (I like Better Than Bouillon) to the sauteed mixture.
  3. Add 2-3 quarts of water and put a clean, washed stone in the pot, and let simmer.
  4. Have children help you chop whatever vegetables you have on hand. Veggies can include potatoes, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, peppers, broccoli, celery, zucchini, kale, spinach, or virtually any other type of fresh vegetable.
  5. Have children help add chopped vegetables to pot.
  6. Add a cup of barley or rice that has been rinsed and soaked overnight, or pasta in fun shapes.
  7. Let simmer for an hour.
  8. Enjoy! (Makes a full pot that will feed a family, with enough for leftovers.)

Items demonstrated in this video:

Find them all under our Cooking category at Bella Luna Toys.

Click here to read the Stone Soup story.

Bon appétit!

Sarah

 

If you decide to make Stone Soup with your children, let me know how it turns out! In what other ways to you involve your child/ren in the kitchen? What cooking tasks have they helped you with? Share your thoughts, comments and questions here!

 

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parenting presents mothers fathers I’m Sarah Baldwin, a Waldorf early childhood teacher, mama to two Waldorf grads, author, and owner of Bella Luna Toys. Here I share my thoughts on childhood, play, parenting and what’s going on at Bella Luna Toys. More

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