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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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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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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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