The box that opened childhood …..By Mrs. Minal Gurav (Mentor, Grades)

A few months back a friend returning from her village sent a bag full of village goodies. Tucked in the same bag was this box which looked like any other small plastic container. When I opened the box, I saw what you see in this picture. The small box as if magically opened a big box tucked away in my senses, my heart and mind. My tongue tingled with the taste of tamarind even before I had picked any up. I was transported to that tree from my childhood under which I spent a lot of time collecting tamarind filling them in my pockets. Standing here, in a completely different space I looked up while in that flashback, and I saw that tree loaded with fruit. I felt a sense of joy, a sense of unhurried childhood peace. I was as if standing there in midst of a childhood summer vacation idly eating the tamarind, collecting the seeds, playing with them and spending long hours seemingly doing nothing, but actually making memories.

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We all have experienced this at some point, the smell of rain, the smell of the sea, the sight of gulmohur in bloom, the smell of that kheer, a specific song, the sound of the train and many such experiences related to the senses can revive memories, and take us back to something we have experienced often in our childhood.

If we think if what we did as adults in our last vacation or even our most memorable trip, we would have visual images and events coming to our minds. But if we try to bring back memories of childhood to our present, they will appear in the form of emotions, diffused but intense sensations. We feel like we have travelled back in time.

After this journey through the tamarind box, I am, yet again, in awe of the way we are created. How life gone by can be re-lived. As if the life gone by is packed away in so many unknown places in this very body. How a seemingly mundane, day after day rhythm of childhood like collecting tamarind, can bring so much peace and joy years after childhood is long gone.

As I say this, I see my daughter making a marigold flower garland, a Diwali routine in our home, and I think of how the smell of marigold and the feeling of joy and peace that will goes with this is a pathway to establishing emotions that will accompany her for life.

“Child’s play is a serious work”

Toys hold a very important place in a child’s life. At different stages in their childhood, children show a preference for different toys.

In Waldorf the whole learning process is holistic, and it happens through the Head (Thinking), Heart (Feeling), and Hand (Doing). Waldorf toys, activities, and the whole environment is set and designed keeping these three things in mind.

In a Waldorf Kindergarten, a lot of focus is laid on selecting the appropriate toys, creating the ambience, and on free playtime. The playtime is not instruction based, it is unguided, uninterrupted free play.

How are Waldorf toys different?

Waldorf toys are distinct by their beauty and simplicity, they are handmade from natural materials like cotton, wood, linen, or wool.

The toys are open-ended with basic shapes, and smooth edges, the wooden toys are left in their rustic natural wood finish and the cotton and fabric toys are mostly in light pastel colors. The dolls and animals don’t have facial features or have minimal features. In a Waldorf kindergarten, plastic and battery-operated toys are strictly avoided. toys with too bright colors are also not used. The toys are designed following the Steiner principle – To allow children to imagine and visualize their own emotions and expressions for the dolls.

When you walk into a Waldorf kindergarten, it gives you a feeling of comfort and warmth. The classrooms have simple designs, aesthetically pleasing, age-appropriate, and minimal artwork. Play objects are neatly stacked in baskets and kept covered on the wooden shelves.

What Toys Are Used In A Waldorf Kindergarten?

In a Waldorf Kindergarten, we use wooden blocks, logs, planks, small wooden human/animal figurines kitchen play tools, hand-knitted ropes, pine cones, Twigs, sticks, silk fabrics, Capes, balancing boards, Waldorf dolls, Crotchet balls, and many other simple articles. The classroom is set to encourage free and imaginative play. All objects are kept in a way that is aesthetically pleasing, balanced, and easily accessible to our children.

Why are Waldorf Toys Expensive?

Waldorf Toys are handmade from natural material and hence are expensive. At Kalpavruksha, we sell some beautiful handmade toys which are priced reasonably, these are perfect for your little ones and can make a great gifting option too.

“Sensory integration.” In Waldorf Philosophy

In Waldorf philosophy the emphasis is on educating the whole child, that includes the senses too, commonly called “Sensory integration.”

A Waldorf kindergarten environment encourages children to move freely and gives enough scope for open-ended play. The natural fabrics, wood, etc used in a Waldorf kindergarten gives them natural sensory stimulation.

The same is done through variety of activities given below-

  1. Gardening – In our Waldorf Kindergarten we give a lot of importance to Gardening as it helps children in many ways it connects them to nature. The children touch and smell the soil, they find pebbles, they crush hard soil and prepare it for the plants.

  2. Handwork – Several activities are taken under handwork- Fishing rope with natural cotton yarn, deseeding cotton, playing with potter’s clay, working/playing with Bees wax, coconut scraping, paper mache, and much more, all these are fine motor skills and sensory activities. These activities prepare the children for grade 1 where they are required to start writing.

  3. Painting – Wet on wet watercolour painting is an introduction to the beautiful world of colour for the young child. There are many ways to paint, but wet-on-wet painting is a dreamy, fluid, mostly formless painting method that allows to experience colours. It is perfect for the process-oriented kindergarten child. The intent is to give young children an experience of colour, not form. Because the wet paint is laid on wet paper, the colours flow, blending into one another in beautiful, unexpected ways.

  4. Cooking – Cooking is an integral part of our Kindergarten at Kalpavruksha. It is a treat to all the senses. Activities like dough kneading stimulates tactile skills.

  5. Meal times – You may think why meal time is included as a sensory activity! In Waldorf Kindergartens each day a child brings wholesome, homemade healthy food for the whole class. The food is rich and gives exposure to different textures, smells and tastes to young ones. At “Kalpavruksha, Steiner Inspired School“, strong emphasis is laid on community meal times, children eat together the same home cooked food. Children are encouraged to use their hands for eating. The food exposes them to variety of textures, tastes and smell.

Getting messy is never discouraged in Waldorf schools, it is necessary to develop tactile senses, at our school “Kalpavruksha“ children develop tactile senses through sand play, play with Clay, walk in rain, jumping in the puddles and much more.

We would like to emphasize that sensory activities are key in building flexibility, mobility, spatial awareness, motor skills, tactile sense, and the sensory integration.

Pooja Chukkala

(Kindergarten Teacher)

What is Circle Time in a Waldorf Class?

Circle time is a practice of forming a circle and doing singing prayers, songs and rhymes with gestures. Circle is taken at the beginning of the day at school, it sets the mood and tone for the whole day. Teachers put a lot of thought while creating a circle, keeping in mind the readiness for children, season, festivals and many other things. Circle time holds significant importance in any Waldorf school, it serves multiple purposes and benefits, including:

  1. Rhythm and Routine: Circle time establishes a daily rhythm and routine in the classroom, providing a sense of structure and predictability for the students. Waldorf education emphasizes the importance of rhythm in promoting a harmonious learning environment
  2. Social Connection: Circle time fosters a sense of community and social connection among the students. Through group activities, songs, and games, students engage with each other, develop interpersonal skills, and strengthen their bonds as a class
  3. Language Development: Circle time offers numerous opportunities for language development. Through storytelling, recitation of verses and poems, and discussions, students enhance their vocabulary, listening skills, and verbal expression. These activities also nurture imagination and creativity
  4. Movement and Coordination: Many circle time activities involve movement, singing, and gestures. These activities promote physical coordination, balance, and gross motor skills. They engage the students in a holistic way, integrating body, mind, and spirit
  5. Emotional Well-being: Circle time supports emotional well-being by providing a nurturing and inclusive space for students. Through movements that promote empathy, cooperation, and self-expression, children learn to understand and regulate their emotions, fostering a positive and supportive classroom environment
  6. Cultural and Seasonal Awareness: Circle time often incorporates seasonal festivals, cultural traditions, and nature-based themes. This helps students develop an appreciation for different cultures, nature, and the changing seasons. It connects them to the world around them and fosters a sense of wonder and reverence.

In a Waldorf kindergarten, circle time activities are designed to engage and support the development of young children. At Kalpavruksha school, we take conscious efforts to include regional songs and rhymes in our circle, making them familiar to different dialects and languages. Here are some common activities that kindergarten students typically participate in during circle time:

  1. Morning Verse or Greeting: The day often begins with a morning verse or greeting, where the teacher and students greet each other and set a positive tone for the day
  2. Songs: Kindergarten students engage in singing songs and reciting simple chants together. These songs often incorporate movement, gestures, and actions, promoting coordination and rhythm
  3. Fingerplays and Nursery Rhymes: Fingerplays involve using hand and finger movements to accompany rhymes or simple stories. Nursery rhymes are recited or sung, helping children develop language skills, memory, and rhythm
  4. Story Circle: The teacher tells stories, often using expressive language, gestures, and props. These stories can be based on fairy tales, nature, animals, or daily life experiences
  5. Seasonal and Nature Activities: Circle time in Waldorf kindergartens often includes activities related to the seasons and nature. For example, children may sing songs about the weather, discuss changes in nature, or engage in simple seasonal crafts or gardening projects
  6. Movement Games: Circle time incorporates movement games that encourage physical activity and coordination. These games can involve imitating animal movements, dancing, skipping, or playing interactive games that promote cooperation and spatial awareness
  7. Circle Games: Kindergarten students participate in simple circle games that involve singing, movement, and interaction. These games can enhance social skills, turn-taking, and cooperation
  8. Calming Verse: each circle is closed with a calming verse or song, to settle the students and conclude the circle

It’s important to note that the specific activities during circle time can vary depending on the school, teacher, and the cultural context of the Waldorf kindergarten. The activities are typically designed to be age-appropriate, engaging, and aligned with the developmental needs of young children. Top of FormOverall, circle time in a Waldorf school is considered essential for creating a harmonious and balanced learning environment that nurtures the students’ physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development.

“Therapeutic Effects of Nature on Humans”

The value of connecting with nature is more vital than ever in today’s increasingly digitised and urbanised world, especially in the context of the educational setting. Numerous advantages of including nature in schools include bettering students’ physical and emotional health as well as their academic performance.

Students can experience nature thanks to Steiner Education. Opportunities like gardening are provided to students. The third-grade students learn about farming by actually visiting paddy farming. This activity is popular with students because it fosters their connection to the nature. It relieves boredom and inspires more original thought in them.

The Wardolf School encourages children to connect with nature by arranging for them visits to the parks and engage in outdoor exploration. Children are more relaxed and there is a lot of learning which is inculcated. Children observe how flowers grow and photosynthesis take place. The different layers of soil and are learnt by being amidst nature. Learning in this way is long lasting and children develop an interest.

This article discusses the value of having access to nature in the classroom and the benefits it may provide for both student’s wellbeing and academic success.Steiner Schools offer this amazing opportunity to students.