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Waldorf toys inspire the imagination

Yesterday I visited an amazing toy store, in search of a gift for my nephew?s first birthday. The store carries Waldorf-style toys, as well as other wood and fabric toys. While I used to ?poo-poo? people who prefer that their children play with these natural types of toys, viewing them as elitist and a bit snobby, I now ?get? what all the fuss is about.

The store features Plan toys, Imagi-Play toys and another line of adorable wooden toys from Germany, birth-country to Rudolf Steiner?s Waldorf philosophy (unfortunately, the company?s name escapes me at the moment).

While I am not one to subscribe entirely to any one philosophy, there are things which I learn and take from a number of schools of thought or philosophies. What I like about Waldorf thinking is that it is outside of the box. Waldorf schools focus on teaching the whole child: their hands and hearts as well as their minds. Learning is very hands-on, and very encouraging of children?s imaginations.

Waldorf toys reflect this thinking. The wooden toys are classic and timeless. I absolutely love the Plan wood vegetables and a wood kitchen I saw at the store. I would have loved it as a kid, just as children today would. The kitchen and/or veggies can inspire a child to play house, pretend that he?s a chef, gardener or grocer.

Many Waldorf toys are even less specific in their use. A nest of colorful wooden arches, which create a rainbow when nested together, may be put together and taken apart like a puzzle, used as a bridge or ramp for a toy car, placed in a pattern to create a design, etc. This is a Waldorf classic.

While some of the Waldorf philosophy is a bit extreme for me (ie: many followers do not give their kids any vaccinations), I really like their approach to early childhood education. I love the little green wooden car and wood Pound-A-Ball toy by Plan I got for my nephew. My baby loves his new colorful wooden teether I bought him (couldn?t resist!).

I?ll visit my new favorite toy store when it?s time to start my holiday shopping. I?ll also keep the Waldorf emphasis on nature and imagination in mind when looking for new toys and playing with baby.

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