Handwork is Meaningful Work in a Waldorf School

Why is handwork integrated in the curriculum at a Waldorf school?

Waldorf school handwork verse

As a third year parent at Meadowbrook Waldorf School, one of the first interesting things I observed was the use of handwork and other ‘meaningful work’ in the classroom.  When adults engage in meaningful work such as sweeping, cutting vegetables, or doing handwork crafts, it brings a sense of calmness to the space. It seems to possess an almost magical ability to settle the children.  One of two things often happen. The young child either imitates the work being modeled or s/he feels the security to go off and play nearby.  This is something that I witness at home and see weekly in the Parent-Child classroom.  In parent-child class, adults are given small handwork projects and the toddlers are happy to explore the selection of toys available to them.  In  early childhood grades of pre-school and kindergarten, the children are introduced to simple craft handwork projects such as finger knitting. Handwork is incorporated into the curriculum through all the grades and increases in complexity with the childrens’ advancing skills.  Learning these craft skills have the added bonus at home being a productive way to pass the time on a rainy day or a long car ride.

“Through beauty, color, and form, handwork and crafts help to lead the children from play to imaginative thinking as adults, forming a kind of bond between the two. “ from The Importance of Handwork in the Waldorf School by Patricia Linvingston published in Renewal, A Journal for Waldorf Education, Vol. 9#1, Spring 2000
A few ways handwork helps children develop. (Source: Angela Mobley)
  • Moves the child from play to meaningful work.
  • Nurtures sense of reverence and wonder.
  • Develop patience and perseverance.
  • Builds capacity to concentrate and focus
  • Builds capacity to solve problems.
  • Promotes capacities for thinking and judging.
Handwork Gift Items at the Meadowbrook Waldorf School Holiday Faire Store
Waldorf school handwork knitting needle bags

Felted wool knitting needle bags.

There will be a variety of handwork gifts at the Holiday Faire store this year.  You will find knitting, crocheting, felting, weaving  and sewing items available suitable for a range of age groups.  There are beautiful hand crafted knitting needles and handmade felted wool needle bags.  Also featured are lovely wooden beading looms with glass beads,  a natural alternative to the currently popular elastic band looms.  Shop Saturday 6-9 pm or Sunday 10-4.

Also be sure to visit the handwork display and visit with the handwork teacher to learn more about how handwork supports learning in a Waldorf school.

Waldorf school handwork item

Wooden beading loom, a natural alternative to the elastic band looms.

handwork items for waldorf school store

Various handwork projects will be offered.

 

Holiday Faire

10 Tips for Enjoying the Holiday Faire

Holiday Faire EntertainmentThe Meadowbrook Waldorf School Holiday Faire is an event not to be missed and is one that my family has looked forward to every year since we discovered it three years ago. Over time, we have learned a few tips and tricks to make the day more enjoyable and relaxing, especially with young children.

1. Arrive Early to the Holiday Faire

Parking is available in the school lot and next door at the antique barn, which is a 5-minute walk to the Faire entrance. A shuttle to and from the school is also available.

By afternoon, the lots will be quite full. If you have restless small children who will need an afternoon nap, try to arrive close to when the Faire opens at 10 am.

2. Plan your time at the Holiday Faire

Waldorf Preschool Puppet Show

There are so many things to see and do! If you plan to make your own beeswax candles, then start with this craft (more on this later).

The puppet show is delightful for adults and absolutely mesmerizing for the little ones. Scope out the show time you’d like upon your arrival so you can manage your shopping and craft-making around it.

If you have never participated in a drum circle, now is a great time to try it.  Simply sit and join in when a seat is vacated. There are also performances by the Ladies of the Rolling Pin and carolers that add to the festivities of the day; if you can catch them, it’s well worth it.

3. Spend the entire day at the Holiday Faire

Waldorf School Holiday Faire Drum Circle

It’s not that you can’t just pop in for an hour or two, but you won’t be able to experience all the Holiday Faire has to offer in a short amount of time. Some crafts are time-consuming (See Candle Dipping) and the general vibe is one that invites taking it all in without having to worry about racing out early. Three hours would probably cover it, though we personally make a whole day of it.

4. Get Around the Holiday Faire Easily with Baby

I highly recommend leaving the stroller in the car and carrying a small baby or toddler in a comfortable carrier. The hallways can get crowded at times, and the store has narrow aisles. Tuck a diaper and wipes in your bag or pocket to save a trip back to the car. There is one bathroom equipped with a changing table near the children’s crafts room.

5. Plan to start your beeswax candle dipping first.

If you plan to make your own hand-dipped beeswax candle, you may want to start that as soon as you arrive so that you can work on it throughout the day. This craft requires adding layers of wax and then waiting for each layer to cool before dipping again. Depending on the size candle you are aiming for (candles are paid for by weight), the process could take anywhere from 2 hours to all day. This is a great activity, as you’ll get to enjoy the candle with each dinner over the winter months.

6. Visit the Crystal Cave (Formerly known as the Gnome Cave)

Be sure to visit the Crystal Cave either right before or immediately after you begin the candle dipping craft. It is truly magical and not to be missed. The Crystal Cave often has long lines, particularly when the puppet show is over.

7. Make Time for Crafts

There are several crafts available for a range of skill levels. Most are suitable for young children. If you carved out the whole day, you’ll be able to get creative in the crafting rooms at a gentle pace. If you only have a little time, scope out the craft options and pick the one or two that most appeal to you.

8. Shop at the Holiday Faire Store

Waldorf Holiday Faire StoreMy best tip for visiting the beautiful school store on Sunday is to bring another adult. When it’s time to sit down and rest and give your smallest Faire enthusiasts a snack, one person can stay with them while the other sneaks away to the centrally-located market for a bit of shopping.  Of course, if you want to do some Holiday shopping without the children at all then I highly recommend going the night before to the adults only Holiday Faire event where you could enter to win a $25 gift certificate to spend at the store.

Don’t miss the used book room for lots of great reads at an even greater bargain.

9. Enjoy the Playroom

Waldorf preschool classroomNew this year is the playroom, which will offer the chance for your little ones to interact in a preschool/kindergarten or Early Childhood classroom. If you are interested in seeing what a typical day in the preschool or kindergarten program looks like and would like to speak with a staff member who can answer your questions about Waldorf education, inquire about the playroom when you arrive.

10. Peek into the Practical Arts

Waldorf handwork loom

Handwork is an essential element of a Waldorf education, and the practical art teachers will display a bit of what they do in one of the classrooms. Handwork is done in the classroom in a quiet and peaceful environment, and so it follows that this is often a quiet activity. We happened into this room unexpectedly last year and it was an welcome retreat from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the Faire.  While our son and niece happily weaved on a natural loom made of tree branches, we enjoyed a pleasant conversation with the lovely handwork teacher.

Finally, just take it all in.

Waldorf School Play Equipment OutdoorsIf you have never visited a Waldorf school before, be sure to spend some time enjoying the play areas outside. You’ll find gardens, climbing equipment, and rope swings, as well as many obstacles and forts that the children have built during their school days.

The essence of the school is evident from the moment you arrive. Every element is purposely chosen and intended to surround the children with beauty. The entire Faire is created and held by the parents working together. It is a testament to the sense of community that is built within the school. If you pay attention, you’ll feel the love that permeates every nuance of the school and the Faire. It is a magical event, not just for the children, but for everyone who comes and enjoys this special welcoming of the Holiday Season.

Have a wonderful time at Meadowbrook Waldorf School Holiday Faire!

mws faire logo

Come join in the festivities at the Meadowbrook Waldorf School Holiday Faire. Saturday, November 23rd from 6-9 PM (Adults’ Night)
Sunday, November 24th from 10-4 (Family Day) 

 

Create Your Own Beeswax Candles

On Sunday November 24th, behind the school, you will find one of the most popular projects at the Holiday Faire. You are invited to dip your own beeswax candle. These make a lovely handmade addition to your holiday table.  If you desire a large candle,  be sure to start your candle early and so you can go back throughout the day to keep adding to it.  The final candle is sold by weight.

Beeswax Candles

Why Beeswax?

Beeswax is one of those essential, frequently utilized Waldorf items.   Beeswax is a natural substance and non-toxic.  The children are often given bits of colored beeswax to warm in their hands and mold into shapes. Some of their creations are often on display in the school foyer. Beeswax for molding is available in the school store for purchase. Historically, beeswax was one of the first ingredients used for candle making. Beeswax candles are naturally and lightly scented with the aroma of honey. They do not produce any soot and very little smoke.  Beeswax candles have a high melting point so they burn slower and have very little drip. We hope you enjoy the opportunity to create one of these candles at the Holiday Faire.   hand dipped candles drying

 

 

 

 

Children Dipping Candles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Kids Crafts, Not Just For Kids

Contributed by Kyle MacDonald Stolaroff

“Piece of cake,” I thought to myself last year when I signed up to help out with Kids Crafts for the Holiday Faire, after all, I am an artist by trade.  I went to the first volunteer training and to my dismay discovered that one of the four craft projects chosen was Origami, “The Eight Pointed Transforming Star” to be exact.  I felt a knot in my stomach as childhood memories of failed geometry tests and incomprehensible Origami instructions filled my head.

As a group, we watched a YouTube video, which described in detail how to create the Transforming Star.  At the end, I timidly raised my hand and asked if anyone else thought that this was too difficult for the kids.  I was assured that this project was targeted for the “older” kids and teens, who sometimes felt that the Kids Crafts weren’t for them.

Mike B., one of the other volunteers, very casually began to fold the paper in front of him, and in less than 2 minutes flat, had created the first, perfectly executed, example for the rest of us to follow.  “This guy must be a Rocket Scientist,” I thought to myself as I looked down at the torn and crumpled papers hidden in my lap.  After what seemed like an agonizing hour of folding and refolding, I had completed my first star. I knew that I would be ok as long as I was assigned to the room with the beautiful bamboo trays, decoupage votives, or adorable handmade dolls.

Holiday Faire 232The morning of the Faire, I was relieved to find myself at the doll table, across the room from Origami.  Intrigued, I watched all day from afar as kids as young as six easily and joyfully made Transforming Stars. The look of excitement and wonder on their faces as they opened and closed their beautiful paper stars was priceless.  The kids’ enthusiasm and willingness to try something new inspired me.  As the day wore on, I felt emboldened to try again.  I went over to sit with my friend Mike B.  With his patient guidance and my newly cultivated beginners mind, I started to fold.  To my surprise and delight, I completed a lovely Eight Pointed Transforming Star in less than 2 minutes flat!  Whether you are a kid, big or small, or an adult who likes to be challenged, enchanted and surprised, Kids Crafts is a wonderful experience for all.

Come join in the festivities at the

Meadowbrook Waldorf School Holiday Faire.

Saturday, November 23rd from 6-9 PM (Adults’ Night)

Sunday, November 24th from 10-4 (Family Day) 

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