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Thought I'd stop hijacking Dollys Mama's thread and start my own…  I know a few of you try and follow Waldorf Steiner ideas at home with you lo's and would love to hear how you go about incorporating them into your life at home, especially with toddler age children.  I am really keen to learn more about how the things people have done as the ideas I keep reading about make sense but I'm struggling with how to put them in practice, for example did you get rid of other toys, if so , how, and how do you approach birthdays/Christmas when some people may give gifts that you wouldn't have chosen etc.  What toys did you buy/make and how did you start your nature table etc.  I have so many questions, but basically I'm just interested in how it works for you

Alice x

Hi Alice

I discovered Steiner about 18 months ago when Ella was 18 months.  I immediately took all the battery operated toys and dolls to the charity shop, although tbh, we didn't have too many.  We have moved house since so once things were boxed away it was easy to make them disappear !

I asked my friends and my mum (who do dress making) for squares of any solid coloured material, and used these for play cloths (telling Ella they were fields for her farm animals, fairy dresses, etc depending on the games we were playing at the time).  My husband cut lots of tree stumps to make gnome seats, fences for the farm etc.  I made some simple felt dolls from the Toymaking with children book and my mum knitted farm animals. 

I made a sand and water play area in the garden and surrounded it with logs and cut tree stumps for climbing/sitting on.

Our nature area is a small area on our fire place.  I put a cloth down then we look for seasonal things when we are out for walks - acorns, leaves, conkers, walnuts, empty snail shells etc.  I usually have a small vase with flowers and grasses we have picked too.

Presents is a bit more tricky.  I sent my parents a Myriad catalogue and told them we were collecting the ostheimer animals and would appreciate it if they would help out buying them at birthdays.  I also ask the grandparents who are good at making things to do that rather than buy - my MIL makes dolls clothes and blankets & my mother makes clothes and knits for Ella.  I also ask them to look for interesting pebbles/shells etc on holiday rather than buying presents to bring back.  18 months on they now understand what we're doing and it's easier.  Ella had a birthday last week and I did open a couple of presents before hand and replaced them with something more appropriate for us, but generally I accept that people buy things for Ella with love and don't interfere too much smile

Hiya Lynne

Thanks for such a lovely long reply, you have done everything I want to do!!  I was worrying Thomas was a bit too young but he is 15 months now so not much younger than Ella was when you "made the change"!!!  Do you think she has changed the way she plays, and do you notice lots of differences between her and her friends who have all the flashing/nosey toys?

How do you find she is with the Ostheimer animals?  The lady at Myriad suggested they would get too damaged by him being so little and chewing them?  I wanted to  start collecting them now as they are expensive so it'll take time for him to have a collection of them.

Your hubby sounds very talented to be able to make things out of wood.  We have borrowed that toymaking book from the library but Jon didn't think he'd be able to make anything from it really.  Did you treat the wood at all or do anything to prevent bits of bark coming off and being a choking hazard?

Do you intend on sending Ella to school or are you planning on home-edding?  I'd love to be able to send Thomas to a steiner school but unless we win the lottery that won't be happening (and being as we never get a ticket then I think we'll be home-edding!!)

The ideas about getting people to make presents is a good one.  At the moment I am trying to get my family to look at the Myriad catalogue too, although my inlaws are so uninterested in Thomas (thats another story!!) that they'll preob just send him a cheque or vouchers so thats fine by me!!!

Have you read any of the other books they sell in Myriad?  I was quite fancying the book of things to make with felt but was wondering how hard it is as I'm not a brilliant sewer!

Hi Alice

I definitely notice a difference between Ella and other children when she is playing with toys - however I think its more to do with the attitude of the parent..  some of my friends buy their children cheap toys because they *expect* them to get broken.  The problem with that is they don't get the chance to learn respect for their possessions because they are allowed to throw them around and they just get put in the bin when they break.  The same children throw Ella's toys around in the same way, although Ella is generally a lot more gentle with their toys whether they are wooden or plastic.  She gets frustrated with battery operated stuff now because you have to use them in a particular way and she doesn't seem to accept the limitation too well.

I have done lots of things differently to friends - no television, no supermarkets and other over-stimulating places, balanced diet with no additives/limited sugar, quiet bedtime routine etc..  so its difficult to say what exactly has made the biggest difference but in general she is more easy going and even tempered that her peers.  Maybe thats to do with her character too, of course..  She has age-appropriate melt-downs but I've heard it said (and certainly agree) that about 80% of behavioural problems can be apportioned to sleep deprivation, over-stimulation, high blood sugar levels and/or lack of rhythm.

Since Ella was 18 months she's played with wooden blocks, wool farm animals, play cloths, felt people and a wooden barnyard (if you live in Brighton, check out  Since then we have built up a small collection of ostheimer animals, tree stumps cut from branches of silver birch (see for something similar to the ones we made), felt gnomes, wooden tractor, trucks and cars from Myriad.  We also have a small wooden cooker and small wooden utensils, a chopping board and wooden fruit and veg from Myriad.  We also got some beeswax from Myriad and made little fruit and veg (definitely wait until nearer 3yrs) and the gnomes have a farmers market some days (Ithink I have more fun than Ella some days!) 

You need to get through the chewing stage for some of the later stuff though, particularly the tree stumps….  I peeled off any bark that would come off but just made sure any rough bits were sanded. 

We had a lovely Steiner kindergarten nearby until recently, but now that has closed so we are going back to our original plan to home educate.

A good book on felt making is  Good for beginners.  I have the Waldorf Doll book and did a simple baggy doll for Ella but I'm not great at sewing so haven't made much else. 

BTW, Elsa Beskow books are lovely for children 3+.  They really fire the imagination.  

Do read "Over the rainbow bridge" by Barbara Patterson if you get the chance.  It set me on the right tracks and its the book I go back to most frequently. 

Hi Lynne

Thanks for eply, unfort we are a long way from Brighton (bolton!) but the stuff on that site is gorgeous!  If I ever find myself down there…!!!

I saw the treeblocks and reall fancied them but have put the idea on hold as wanted ones with bark (the others looked kind of naked iykwim!) and he does still cchew things occasionally.  Did you make the felt people?  Are they the ones that are in that toymaking with children book you mentioned before?  I have an order with Myriad on its way so I can make him a few of those.  I'm hoping to order that book from our library.  The ladies there are so prim and proper (I used to work in a different library and am def not prim and proper!!) that I love seeing there faces when I order books!  I went in to order Mothering you nursing toddler a few months ago, they asked if there was any time limit to when I needed it so I said as long as Thomas isn't 18 that should be fine… thought her eyes would pop out!!!!! ;D

Thank you for this, I had wondered  about Steiner home ed, but had thought bub was too young.  Your lovely, descriptive post, Lynne, has triggered some info gathering and we've started putting this into practice - had fun making autumn mobiles today and bub loved making leaf and paper autumn fairies!  Has anybody used the play frames - seem rather expensive, but do look like fun in the Toymaking book.  I'm wondering if I can get an assisted work place near us, that does all sorts of woodworking, to make them.

Thanks again, more info on how you are getting onwith the transfer to Steiner based ed would be great, Alice.


Hi Tanya,

If you can fork out for one or get one made the playframes are wonderful - they offer so much open-ended play and will grown with the child for years.

your faeries and mobiles sound gorgeous smile

Starchild x

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I have had a creative weekend and made a huge bag of play blocks like the ones Lynne mentioned- well I love them even if the LO's don't- I'm saving them as an xmas prezzy for Tomas.
I was wandering- don't want to sound rude but whats so special about the Ostheimer animals? we have a farm yard of wooden animals, farmhouse/ barns etc which was far cheeper than these ones and have lasted perfectly so I can't see the benifit of the extra expense?
Our house definatly needs a fairy and autumn leaf mobile- just wait for the rain to stop and we'll get started smile

don't want to sound rude but whats so special about the Ostheimer animals?

Personally I like that they are natural colours and are not caracatures - my parents bought a wooden farm for Ella and the dog is orange with yellow ears and has a big smile.  The cow is black and white with orange spots, also smiling.  It probably sounds a bit pedantic, but those are the main reasons I buy them rather than other wooden animals.  I do have some non-ostheimer wooden animals but they seems to be harder to get hold of than then brightly coloured ones with smiles, in my experience… 

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