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October 16th, 2013 | Art, Waldorf Education | Permalink | Comments (9)

Hey, Friends! Happy Autumn!

I apologize that it’s been a while since I’ve posted a “Sunday with Sarah” video. I love connecting with you through my weekly video series, but we have been so busy at Bella Luna Toys getting ready for the upcoming holiday season (be on the lookout for the dozens of new natural toys and crafts we will adding for the season!) that it’s been a challenge to find time to turn on my video camera each week.

Hoping to be back with you in video land soon!

In the meantime, I get questions by email weekly about Waldorf education, parenting, and toys. I realized that when one person writes, it is usually with a question that many others share.

So rather than replying privately to individuals, I thought it might be helpful to post those questions and answers here, for others to benefit from.

This week’s question comes from Nicole, a recent LifeWays grad who recently began teaching Parent/Child classes in Florida.

QUESTION:

hello sarah,

i hope you are enjoying the fall in maine. it’s finally beginning to cool here in miami although that means that we have highs in the mid 80′s and low in the high 70′s!
i wanted to introduce crayoning to my mommas in my parent child group this thursday and just happened to read something by barbara dewey that confused me. contrary to what i have learned she says that the young child needs stick crayons to draw those archetypal drawings and block crayons shouldn’t be introduced until first grade. i can see her point as drawing houses, stick figures, etc would be hard with block crayons. now i don’t know what to tell my parents. should i present both sides and allow them to decide? any ideas or thoughts on this topic?
thank you,

Nicole

 

ANSWER:

This is a great question, Nicole! It is a question on which not all Waldorf teachers agree, and one for which there is no clear answer.

In addition to the idea that stick crayons are important for being able to draw archetypal figures (with which I agree), there has also been a lot of research conducted within the last couple of decades that suggests that the use of stick crayons also helps to develop a child’s grip and their pre-writing skills. Developing this “triangular grasp” is also connected with brain development.

On the other hand, block crayons seem to be easier for younger children to hold and they are less likely to break, which is why they were used exclusively in Waldorf early childhood settings for so many years.

From my understanding, block crayons were originally developed for use by Waldorf grade school children over the age of seven to create borders in their main lesson books, as well as wide expanses of color when creating a drawing with sea or sky.

Without a definitive answer, I chose to offer both types of crayons to the children in my kindergarten class, believing that each type of crayon offered benefits and that children would instinctively choose the crayons they needed developmentally.

I found that in most cases children would choose the stick crayons to draw people, animals, trees, and other representational figures. Some of the 5- and 6-year-olds would imitate me as I drew, and use the sides of block crayons to create sea and sky. I found that 3-year-olds tended to gravitate to the block crayons, and you might find that block crayons are more appropriate for the 2- and 3-year-olds in your Parent/Child classes.

Joan Almon, a leading authority on Waldorf early childhood education, wrote the following article which you might find helpful:

Crayons in the Kindergarten: Block or Stick?

Parents and teachers new to Waldorf education often seek “rules” and have the feeling that there is one correct “Waldorf way.” As you delve deeper into this work, you will learn that there are many areas of ambiguity and difference of opinion among Waldorf teachers. It is always best to do what makes sense to you and to have a reason for your choice.

Your choices may change along the way as you learn more, and spend more time observing the children, and that’s okay! One should never let one’s teaching get rigid and bound by “rules.” That kind of teaching is not living and breathing.

Hope this helps. Let me know what information you decide to share with your parents!

With warmest wishes,

 

 

Have a question on Waldorf education, parenting, or play? Leave it here, and I’ll do my best to answer them all in future posts!

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March 8th, 2011 | Art | Permalink | Comments (0)

felt-crayon-roll-holderToday over at one of my very favorite blogs, Wee Folk Art, I answer questions about creating art at home with children, and give a list of my favorite Waldorf art supplies and other suggested items to have on hand.

Please stop by and let me know what you think!

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October 20th, 2010 | Art | Permalink | Comments (8)

Waldorf Watercolor Painting

Today my monthly post as guest contributor at SimpleHomeschool is a how-to on wet-on-wet watercolor painting as practiced in Waldorf education.

It’s a subject on which I’ve been wanting to write for a while, since I’ve gotten many calls from customers who are interested in purchasing Stockmar paints and Waldorf art supplies from Bella Luna Toys, but aren’t quite sure how to use them.

Now, instead of trying to explain the technique over the phone, I can link to these illustrated instructions, which I hope that users new to the techniques will find helpful. (And SimpleHomeschool’s beautiful format makes it so pretty. Thanks, Jamie!)

If you’ve been curious to try wet-on-wet watercolor painting with your children, head on over to SimpleHomeschool and have a look! You can also print out the piece for future reference.

If you want to go deeper into the technique, or need more details, I highly recommend the book Painting With Children by Brunhild Muller which has many color examples different color combinations, and more ideas for “color stories” one can tell while painting.

Waldorf Watercolor Painting

Have you practiced wet-on-wet watercolor painting with your children? Send me your photos and I’ll post them on the blog! Have further questions? Leave them here, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

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July 26th, 2010 | Art, LifeWays, Photographs, Waldorf Education | Permalink | Comments (11)

Last week, I had the pleasure of teaching several sessions to LifeWays students who had come to Maine for the east coast training. The experience allowed me to take a welcome break from the endless data entry I’ve been doing to ready the new Bella Luna Toys website. The LifeWays Child Care Training is a comprehensive training to give students the understanding and skills they need to transform themselves and their work with young children, and is inspired by Waldorf education and the insights of Rudolf Steiner. These students teach in Waldorf schools, childhood centers, pre-schools or home programs.

Among the classes I taught were crayon drawing with beeswax block crayons, and wet-on-wet watercolor painting, as practiced in Waldorf education. I had a marvelous week preparing for the class, immersing myself in form and color! With thanks to Madrona Wienges and her camera, I am able to share images of our classes with you.

Sarah Baldwin Teaches Coloring

Beeswax Block Crayon Drawings

Coloring with Beeswax Block Crayons

Coloring with Beeswax Crayons

Birthday Pictures

Beeswax Block Crayon Drawings

Scott

Painting with Stockmar Watercolor Paint

Waldorf Watercolor Painting

In addition to the Stockmar Beeswax Crayons, Stockmar Watercolor Paint, Waldorf art supplies and the book Painting With Children which are currently available from Bella Luna Toys, I am excited to be introducing new resources for coloring and drawing when the new site goes live. Stay tuned!

Have questions about drawing or painting? Leave them here, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

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March 26th, 2010 | Art, Waldorf Toys | Permalink | Comments (4)

I was so happy to finally get this blog up and running. I had so much to say, and couldn’t wait to move out from behind a static website and to be able to interact with all of you. Well, it seems that no sooner did “Moon Child” finally go live when Amanda Soule, my favorite blogger and creator of the most gorgeous crafting and parenting blog, SouleMama, made a lovely post about drawing and crayons.

Photo by Amanda Soule

Photo by Amanda Soule, used with permission

Well, ever since that post came out, I’ve had very little time to write, since all I’ve been doing is packing and shipping box after box of our beautiful Stockmar  beeswax crayons! Apparently, the photos of Amanda’s baby, Harper, grasping the Stockmar blocks, and colorful Crayon Rocks in his cherubic little hands proved simply irresistible, and suddenly I can barely keep up with the demand!

It’s really no wonder. The quality of these crayons is incredible. Made with pure beeswax, they smell wonderful and the colors are pure and vibrant. What’s best is that they last FOREVER. (Well, nearly forever!) We still have and use some of the same block crayons that my son Harper, now 18, got from his teacher years ago when when he was in first grade. (Can you believe Amanda and I both have sons named Harper and dogs named Nellie? Oh, and we both live in Maine!)

So, as soon as soon as I’m done packing all these crayons, I’ll be back to tell you a little bit more about the benefits of the different kinds of crayons available at Bella Luna Toys, and how I used them in my classroom.

crayon-rocks-2

In the meantime find a child, grab some paper and crayons, and sit down with him or her and have a lovely color experience. Happy drawing!

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