I have always been a “crafty” person. I love to add a creative, artistic touch to all I do. When I discovered Waldorf Homeschooling and decided that it was right for my family, I was very excited about all the handwork and art that is weaved into this education method. One thing I love about the Waldorf method is the way handwork ties into the grades and weekly lessons. Steiner even specifies different forms of handwork for specific grades.
Though many of the techniques were unfamiliar to me, over the past 4 years I have had time to learn to knit, needle felt, and model beeswax. These have begun to seep into me until now they do feel natural. My children see me learning right beside them and I think that is a wonderful way to model learning.
Beeswax has turned out to be a great addition to our lessons & play. At first, I wasn't sure how useful the beeswax would be, but as my girls have grown, so has the level of what they can create. Beeswax can become whatever they can imagine and more! If they need another character for their “play” they just make it. Horses need food? Beeswax a few carrots or oats.
The beeswax is sold in online stores that carry Waldorf supplies. I have purchased the plant dyed set and the regular colors and both smell and feel great. They come in thin rectangles that can be cut or ripped easily if only a small bit is needed.
The beeswax never gets dried out and can always be warmed and reused. That tree that was made last week, quickly becomes a butterfly.
It is such a lovely medium to use, as it must be warmed up in the children's hands first before it can be molded. This is a good time to tell a story, preferably about what you will be modeling.
A few weeks ago, we were doing Aesop Fables and I was telling The Tortoise and the Hare. While my girls were warming the beeswax, the story unfolded. They were unsure what we would be creating, so they just listened. When the story ended, I handed them each a hollowed out walnut shell and asked them to make the Tortoise.
They turned out so great and had so much fun making them, we soon had a whole family of turtles!
I had planned to have them re-tell the story to me the next day using their beeswax figures, so the next step was making the Hare.
It was great to have them act out the story the following day with the beeswax figures that they created. We plan to add a lot more of this to our lessons. They would work great with fairy tales and any animal story. It helps the recollection of these stories is they are performed by the children and it is a lot more fun!
Donna Ashton is the founder of The Waldorf Connection. She spends her days with her husband and twin girls in Coastal South Carolina where bike riding and beach combing are favorite pastimes. When she isn't homeschooling, Donna is creating programs to support the Waldorf Homeschooling community. Her quirky days are documented in her homeschooling blog School for all Seasons.