I welcome Lori from Beneath The Rowan Tree to Discovering Waldorf today. Lori is an exceptionally talented needle-felter with a hugely successful Etsy shop. I adore her creations! Her topic for discussion is the needle felted playscape.
These toys, arising out of the Waldorf educational philosophy, are intentionally open ended, simple and made with natural materials. They are created to nurture the wonder of the early years of childhood by allowing children to move smoothly into the world of play and imagination while determining, for themselves, the course and nature of that play.
Most mainstream toys limit a child by determining how the child shall play through their built in cause and effect types of features (push the button, it makes a sound). While cause and effect is an important skill, it doesn’t leave much to the imagination, nor does it allow the child to practice problem solving or to live out their rich inner life! Not to mention that plastic (aside from environmental and health concerns) is cold and lifeless.
Natural toys warm in a child’s hands. You can easily explain the cycle from sheep to wool to toy and connect the child with the earth and the ideas of inter-connectedness and sustainability. They allow the child to lead the play and move freely through their imaginative ideas. They are wide open space instead of a cattle chute!
I wanted to take a moment for the playscape~ essentially a play mat, an environment for natural play. Most playscapes are felted (wet and needle felting OR processed wool felt) and made of wool and other natural fibers.
They provide a scene or setting for the child’s play. They also provide lots of open space for that play to unfold. Popular themes are fairy, gnome and folk tale based. Natural environments beingmost common: farm, seaside, forest and more. Sizes vary, as does scale. They can be populated with many simple things~ acorns, stones, crystals, bendy dolls, natural found items.
We love to createplayscapes and many other natural toys at Beneath the Rowan Tree, as do a number of other members of the Etsy Natural Kids Street Team (www.etsy.com) and use handmade search term ‘Naturalkids team’).