Waldorf Toys: What Makes Them Stand Out & The History Behind Rudolf Steiner

Montessori is all of the rage right now with many North American families, but it is not the only alternative education around. There are plenty of other options available to parents of school aged children including Reggio Emilia, Charlotte Mason, and Waldorf, which may be the most common after Montessori.

Waldorf education, named after Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, provides what some may call a “holistic” approach to education. Its curriculum holds the philosophy that children should be “actively, emotionally, and thoughtfully” engaged in their learning, with the belief that children already have their true potential inside them and it simply needs help to be brought out to the surface.

Aside from the written part of the Waldorf style of teaching/learning, there are a variety of toys on the market that are designed with the philosophy in mind.  There are a plethora of goods, from puzzles to doll houses that are designed with creativity, and open-ended play in mind.

What makes Waldorf toys stand out from the crowd is the fact that a Waldorf toy is made simply, with minimal finishing detail. The materials used are normally natural and simple, and all of the toys are meant to kick a child’s imagination into high gear. There is little information provided in terms of how the toys should be used, though it is obvious to us as adults, but for children, the toys are meant to be able to be used in a wide variety of age groups.

This week we will be rounding up the ‘Best of Waldorf Toys’, including dolls, stacking blocks, puzzles and more. Not only will they enhance playtime, they will encourage your child to let their imaginations run wild!

Photo: Source

Heidi Oran

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One Response to "Waldorf Toys: What Makes Them Stand Out & The History Behind Rudolf Steiner"

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  1. Sarah Baldwin, M.S.Ed.

    July 11, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    What a great synopsis of Waldorf toys, Heidi! As a Waldorf early childhood teacher and owner of Bella Luna Toys, an online Waldorf toys shop, I read this piece with interest.

    Not only are the toys intentionally left simple in order to engage a child’s imagination, but they are also designed to nourish a child’s senses. Natural materials like wood, cotton, wool and silk feel good to a child’s sense of touch. Since a young child is learning about the world through all of her senses, it’s important to nourish them. I invite your readers to try closing your eyes sometime and feeling the difference between a hard plastic toy and smooth wooden blocks, a play silk or a knitted animal.

    For more on what makes a toy a “Waldorf” toy, here’s a link to an article I wrote on the subject: http://blog.bellalunatoys.com/2010/waldorf-toys.html/

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