March 18th, 2010 | Childhood, Play, Sarah's Silks, Waldorf Education, Waldorf Toys, Wooden Toys | Permalink | Comments (6)

Are all Waldorf teachers asked to describe Waldorf education “in a nutshell” as often as I am? I suspect so. One of my esteemed colleagues, Nancy Foster, a veteran teacher who taught at  Acorn Hill Waldorf Kindergarten in Silver Spring, MD even wrote a book entitled In a Nutshell, answering parents questions about Waldorf education.

Even though it’s a nearly impossible task, given the muti-faceted nature of Waldorf education and the almost-too-many-to-name  aspects that differentiate a Waldorf classroom from the educational mainstream, I did my best to give a “nutshell” picture of a Waldorf early childhood program recently for the wonderful crafting blog, Wee Folk Art. Here it is, reprinted in its entirety, with thanks to Kimara for asking such great questions that were a pleasure to answer!

Interview with Sarah Baldwin of Bella Luna Toys
By Kimara – Originally posted at Wee Folk Art on 14 February 2010

Sarah Baldwin, Waldorf teacher and owner of Bella Luna Toys

Kimara: In a nutshell, what distinguishes a Waldorf classroom from a more traditional educational environment?

Sarah: There are so many facets and layers to Waldorf education that it is nearly impossible to describe it in a neat, tidy package, even though I am frequently asked to do so! Since I am an early childhood teacher, I will highlight three of the key elements that distinguish a Waldorf early childhood classroom from that of a more mainstream preschool.

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March 16th, 2010 | Childhood, Play, Waldorf Education | Permalink | Comments (4)

This Op-Ed piece from the New York Times comments on the recent curriculum reforms proposed by the Obama administration in support of play. The author, Susan Engel, director of the teaching program at Williams College, articulates what so many educators know, and so few legislators understand.

Op-Ed Contributor – Playing to Learn – NYTimes.com

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The statement that really struck me:

“During the school day, there should be extended time for play. Research has shown unequivocally that children learn best when they are interested in the material or activity they are learning. Play — from building contraptions to enacting stories to inventing games — can allow children to satisfy their curiosity about the things that interest them in their own way. It can also help them acquire higher-order thinking skills, like generating testable hypotheses, imagining situations from someone else’s perspective and thinking of alternate solutions.”

As Rudolf Steiner stated, imaginative play in early childhood is the basis for creative thinking later in life. And as all Waldorf early childhood educators know, play is a young child’s work.

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March 16th, 2010 | Bookstore, Waldorf Books | Permalink | Comments (5)

While I was teaching in a Waldorf school, I always had a lending library for parents in my classroom. It was my own personal collection of books on a variety of topics, including Waldorf education, child development, parenting, play, crafting and festivals, available for borrowing by parents.

While I carry a number of Waldorf books for children and parents at Bella Luna Toys, I cannot possibly carry all the books I think should be in parents’ hands, since Bella Luna Toys is primarily a Waldorf toys store. I would love to be able to lend you all my personal collection of books, but of course that would be impossible. So I’ve tried to come up with the next best thing.

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One of the features I am most excited about here at “Moon Child” is my new online bookshop which features a collection of books carefully chosen by me on all of the above topics and more. These are books that I have read, worked with, and recommended to parents over the years, as well as more recent publications that I highly endorse.

Need a specific recommendation? Please don’t hesitate to ask! So many of these titles have brought help, healing and support to me on my own parenting journey, and have enriched the lives of my children and my family. I’m eager to share them with you.

If you love bookshops as much as I do, come on in and browse my collection of favorite Waldorf books!

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March 12th, 2010 | About, Parenting, Play, Waldorf Education, Waldorf Toys | Permalink | Comments (21)

Welcome to my new blog!

I’m Sarah Baldwin, a Waldorf early childhood educator, author, and owner of Bella Luna Toys, an online shop selling Waldorf toys, wooden toys and natural toys, chosen to nourish a child’s senses and inspire imaginative play. I am also the author of Nurturing Children and Families, a book for teachers and leaders of Waldorf parent/child playgroups.

My husband, Max Alexander, is a journalist and author who shares an office with me upstairs in the barn next to our home. Max, our two teenage boys – Harper and Whit (who now prefers to be called William) — and I live on the beautiful midcoast of Maine on Buttermilk Lane (no, I didn’t make that name up!) in the small town of South Thomaston, minutes from the coastal city of Rockland and its working harbor. If you know Maine at all, we’re about half-way between Portland and Bar Harbor on Penobscot Bay.

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In addition to being passionate about children and Waldorf education, I’m also wild about traditional music and learning to play fiddle. As a family, we love to spend our winters skiing and our summers sailing, making Maine an ideal place for us to be.

When I made the decision to take ownership of Bella Luna Toys in September 2009, I knew from the start that I didn’t just want to have a retail website. While I truly love the toys I sell, I envisioned Bella Luna Toys becoming a forum where I could share my knowledge of children and my love for Waldorf education. I wanted it to be a site where I could answer families’ questions and interact with them. And, most importantly, I wanted it to be a place where I could support the magic of childhood and the importance of play — helping children and families find joy in life and learning.

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I hope that you will find my blog, “Moon Child,” to be such a place. I’m so glad you found your way here. Leave a comment. Don’t be shy!

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