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November 10th, 2013 | bella luna toys, Natural Toys, String Games, Sunday With Sarah, Waldorf Education | Permalink | Comments (1)

 

In this week’s video, I discuss the benefits of string games such as Cat’s Cradle for children’s learning, and why a simple finger string is my favorite stocking stuffer or party favor for children 5 and up.

Did you play Cat’s Cradle or other string games as a child? Does your child play? What are your favorite string games?

 

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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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September 22nd, 2013 | Archives | Permalink | Comments (0)
Grandmother, granddaughters, kissing

"My Daughters only get to see their Beppe (Grandma) once or twice a year when she comes to visit from the Netherlands. They joy is unbounded every time she visits. They love they share is so precious!"

Congratulations to Kait De Luna Sea who submitted the winning photograph in Bella Luna ToysGrandparents Love Photo Contest on Facebook!

Kait’s photo of her children kissing their grandmother received the most votes and Facebook likes by a wide margin, and was chosen by our judges as the winner. Kait will receive a $100.00 gift certificate to Bella Luna Toys.

Thank you to all who submitted such beautiful and cherished photographs. Together they created quite a moving tribute to the love of grandparents.

Warmly,

 

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September 8th, 2013 | Childhood, Family, Giveaway | Permalink | Comments (1)

 

I want to share a little secret with you.  I can’t wait to be a grandmother.

Not that I want to rush my kids into having children! They are only 18 and 21. But I AM very much looking forward to the birth, someday, of my first grandchild.

So many of our customers at Bella Luna Toys are grandparents and I LOVE talking with them when they call. When I share my secret with them, they tell me that being a grandparent is more rewarding than they ever could have imagined, and that it’s different from a mother’s love for her child.

They describe an unconditional love, and an overwhelming desire to shower their grandchildren with gifts and affection, and that tell me that it should be a grandparent’s right to spoil their grandchildren!

Below is a childhood picture of my grandmother — born Sarah Laird, who later became Sarah Baldwin when she married my grandfather, and for whom I was named.

Grandparent's Day

My grandmother was one of the most special people in my life. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of summers spent at my grandparents’ house, in the country on the eastern shore of Maryland.

As I got older, my grandmother was someone in whom I could always confide, without fear of judgment. I felt her unconditional love, and could share things with her that I would never tell my parents.

Well, today is Grandparents Day, and while many have complained that it is a made-up holiday, created by the greeting card industry, I think it’s a lovely reminder to take time to reflect with gratitude on our relationships with our own grandparents, and to appreciate the special bond that our parents share with our children.

Grandparent's Day

While I was reflecting on the topic of this week’s blog post, I started looking through family photos and came across this favorite (above) of my dad, who was a banjo player, singing and playing for my one-month-old son, William.

Then I started thinking about how much fun it would be to see YOUR cherished photos of your children with their grandparents.

So I decided to host our first ever photo contest at Bella Luna Toys!

Our contest is hosted on Bella Luna Toys’ Facebook page. You can enter and find all the details there. We are accepting photo submissions through September 14, 20013 at noon, when the voting will begin. The winning photograph will be announced on Sunday September 22 and the winner will receive a $100.00 gift certificate from Bella Luna Toys!

If you are not on Facebook, no worries! Simply e-mail your photo to support@bellalunatoys.com and will will enter your photo in the contest.

So, Happy Grandparent’s Day to all you loving grandmas and grandpas! 

And to all you mamas and papas, be sure to let your parents know how much you appreciate them—not just on Grandparent’s Day, but all year round.

 

 

What are some favorite memories of  YOUR grandparents? What do you most appreciate about your parents’ relationship with your children? Share your reflections and stories here!

 

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August 25th, 2013 | bella luna toys, Giveaway, Play | Permalink

 

Waldorf Rocker Board - Curvy Board - Balance Board

GIVEAWAY!

If you watched last week’s video on my top five favorite Waldorf toys, or read my blog post “In Praise of Rocker Boards,” then you know why I love this open-ended toy and recommend it so highly.

Not only do rocker boards invite imaginative and active play, but they also help develop a child’s sense of balance (which aids brain development) and strengthen core muscles.

Our rocker boards are made in the U.S.A. by a young Waldorf family in California who were inspired to create the “Curvy Board” after seeing rocker boards in use in their children’s kindergarten classroom.

Rocker Boards can be used indoors or out.

Each Curvy Board is handcrafted in the U.S.A. from nine layers of poplar plywood. The corners have been rounded for safety, the wood sanded smooth, and each has been finished with child-safe varnish for durability.

Click here to watch Mama Natural’s video review of our rocker boards and watch one in action!

For our end-of-summer giveaway, Bella Luna Toys is pleased to offer the following gift to ONE winner:

* * * One Curvy Board Waldorf Rocker Board * * *

This prize ($139.95 value) includes free shipping within the 48 contiguous United States. The giveaway is open to open to all readers, but a winner outside the continental U.S. will be responsible for the cost of shipping.

To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post letting me know what you like best about this toy. Comments will close at 11:59 p.m. PDT on August 31.

And the winner is:

I am delighted to announce the winner of a Curvy Board – Waldorf rocker board, chosen through a Random Number Generator.

Congratulations to Kim Corrigan-Oliver who commented:

“Thanks for the chance, my little man would love this!”

Many thanks to all of you who entered and for your words of enthusiasm for one of my favorite toys!

 

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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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