Holiday Faire Store – Ostheimer Wooden Toys

“Play is at the very core of a child’s life. It is the way children learn about the environment, the people in their lives, and most of all about themselves. Toys are the tools of creative play and with the right toys, a child can have not only an entertaining, but an enriching experience.” – Margarate Ostheimer

ostheimer-11112_bigWe are proud to offer an assortment of Ostheimer Wooden Toys at the Holiday Faire store.  These heirloom quality hand-crafted toys are imported from Germany.    Ostheimer has a varied collection that includes farm animals, people, flower children, and woodland animals as well as doll houses and farms.  Children love holding these pieces. The edges are curved and softened from careful sanding.  Transparent colors reveal the character of the hardwood from which they are shaped.   Ostheimer toys are a favorite in the Meadowbrook Waldorf School early childhood classrooms.

From the Ostheimer website:

ostheimer-25082_bigOstheimer have been hand crafting fine wooden toys for more than 50 years. They have a very high reputation for traditional wooden toys of the highest quality and are appreciated around the world. The figures are produced and finished individually in Germany. The quality of their pieces are fantastic. Each item is designed to be handed down from generation to generation.

Margarete Ostheimer began a collection of toys which today, more than ever, is justified and necessary. The collection was established fifty years ago as an alternative to a “plastic world” and is today a necessary counterweight to the “high tech world” of the playroom.


Ostheimer toys are a very special feature of our Holiday Faire store. They are carried by a limited number of online retailers and rarely in a brick and mortar storefront.  This is a unique opportunity to appreciate the figures up close prior to purchase. Be sure to stop by the Ostheimer table to see these beautifully made toys to begin your collection or add to an existing one.  Also be sure to visit our 2013 Holiday Faire pinterest board to see the other wonderful items being offered this year.

*Selected images are examples and may not be the specific items available at the store.

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) 

mws faire logo

The Wisdom of Play Based Learning

Betty Merner has been a faculty member of Meadowbrook Waldorf School for more than 22 years. She taught in public schools for 18 years before discovering Waldorf education. Following 15 years as a class teacher Betty became the school’s Resource Co-ordinator overseeing special services for students in need of extra support. Here she considers the results of a study into play based learning in light of her extensive experience of the Waldorf approach.

The HighScope Educational Research Foundation of Ypsilanti, MI recently published the results of its longitudinal study, the HighScope Preschool Comparison Study. HighScope followed the lives of 68 young people born into poverty from ages 3 and 4. These children were randomly assigned to one of three early childhood programs: the Direct Instruction model, where teachers followed a script to direct the learning of academic skills; a Play-Based model, where teachers responded to children’s self-initiated play in a loosely structured setting; and the Highscope model where teachers set-up the classroom and a daily routine within which children could create and do their own activities. The study followed these children until age 23 and looked at their success in a number of categories that affected their lives on a number of levels. Continue reading →

After Meadowbrook by Gillian Bell.

Gillian Bell attended Meadowbrook from Kindergarten through grade 4 in the class of 2003. She recently updated us on what she has been up to ever since:

1st day of kindergarten.

After fourth grade I split off from my Waldorf friends (who are, to this day, my best-of-the-best friends) and entered fifth grade at Chariho Middle School. I spent four years there, navigating what seemed like a huge school to me, bouncing from one color-coded hallway to the next, and learning generally valuable things like how to touch-type and the pledge of allegiance. My Waldorf background came in handy many times- most notably whenever I attempted to restrain myself from accompanying my times tables with Mrs. Merner’s signature “Macarena.” By the time I hit high school I was ready for something different. My parents obliged and we explored many different schools before finally settling on The MET School– a small, alternative, RI public school in Providence. At the MET I had the luxury of studying with one teacher for four years, much like at Waldorf. I completed dozens of independent projects and interned at a graphic design studio and the Sandra Feinstein Gamm Theater.  I felt more at home doing the kinds of hands-on learning I had always been used to, ever since my very first beeswax gnome. In 11th grade I followed my friends to the Ecole d’ Humanité in the Swiss Alps- a school that many Waldorf folks are familiar with now.

Graduation day at URI

After finishing up my final year of high school back at The MET, I started college at the University of Rhode Island in the Fall of 2007. I was very lucky to be able to study abroad in my junior year, in Fiji. I lived in the capital Suva for 4.5 months, studying Multiculturalism and Social Change at the University of the South Pacific with the World Learning School for International Training program  (SIT). I lived with a caring host family there who helped me to truly understand what it means to live and learn in the Fiji Islands. It was definitely one of the most exciting experiences in my life so far – and well worth 3 years at home in Richmond saving up!

This Spring I graduated from URI with a degree in Anthropology and a minor in Nonviolence & Peace Studies. As I write this I am working on my application to graduate school. I’m applying for a masters program in Intercultural Leadership, Service, and Management at SIT’s graduate institute in Brattleboro, Vermont. For the past two years I have been delighted to serve on the new Meadowbrook Waldorf School Alumni Association, and to help with the planning of the Alumni & Friends Art Shows. I can’t imagine separating who I am today from my wonderful years at Waldorf, surrounded by friends and colored silks with wooden clips, wearing felted crowns and beeswax beads. Because once you can make your own cutting board, what can’t you do?! Thanks, Meadowbrook!

2011 Alumni Art Show graphic designed by Gillian.

We love hearing from our alumni students, families and teachers. Stop by or send your updates to We encourage you to stay in touch by liking the MWS Facebook page or email us to join the mailing list for alumni updates and/or the Lunchbox Express. 

Living and learning at Cottrell Farm


Katy Wolfe is a Meadowbrook parent who lives and farms in Jamestown, RI.  Katy was recently accepted into the masters program for environmental education at Antioch University, NH.  In this post she writes about her work and her hopes for Cottrell Farm.

My interest in farming began years ago with a trip to an alpaca farm to buy yarn. It was exhilarating to see how the yarn was made and to walk among the animals whose fleece it had come from. I knew immediately that this was what I wanted to do. At the time I was an elementary assistant at a Montessori school in Illinois, and I talked with my students about where yarn comes from, and how it is made. I imagined what it would be like for children to experience the entire process of fiber arts from raising the animals and plants used for dyeing the yarn, all the way through to a finished piece of clothing or art. The seed for my vision of a teaching farm had been planted.

We currently farm cooperatively with another family, our friends Vivi Valentine and Hutch Hutchinson (also Meadowbrook parents) who own the 30-acre property where we live. Co-farming has enabled both our families to pursue other vocational and recreational interests and remain hands-on at the farm. We currently raise alpacas, sheep, goats, donkeys, chickens, organically grown vegetables and flowers, and bees.  Products offered for sale include livestock, yarn, finished woven and knitted products, eggs, honey, vegetables, flowers, and mushrooms.  The farm is being developed as a teaching environment for local students, summer camps and private group tours, including fiber demonstrations, livestock science & management, and gardening.  The pedagogical goal of our farm is to support children’s natural love of animals and the earth, and help them make connections between their lives and land and animal resources.

Cottrell Farm, Jamestown, RI