August 31, 2010

Waldorf dolls and play mat

We've been on a bit of a Waldorf kick lately, and our favorite waldorfish activity has been to make cute little faceless dolls, dress them, and give then a cool place to play.

We started by sawing our dowel rod into short pieces and sticking a ball on the top of each one.  You can get both of these items at either a craft store or a hardware store.  In the hardware store, the balls will be called dowel caps, and in the craft store they'll be with the wooden toy supplies and not really marked as anything in particular.  We just pushed the piece of dowel rod into the hole in the wooden ball and called it good.  I wanted to paint hair on the little heads, but the kids liked the idea of totally imagining it as anything they wanted and scoffed at needing hair.

Once we made our dolls, We went down to the dungeon (AKA the guest living room/sewing storage spot) and the kids went through my bag of scrap fabric to chose outfits for their dolls.

We figured out how to fold the fabric squares we cut so that we could create the illusion of arms and a robe with just a rubber band.  We would wrap the fabric around the doll so that it barely touched the bottom and went fully above the head.  Then we would wrap the rubber band right under the head and fold the top fabric down.

Turn your head sideways and ignore the wrinkles.  I know you can do it!

While the kids cut out clothes for their dolls, I took 3 fat quarters and sewed them up a cute play mat.  A green leaf print for a meadow, a yellow flower print for the backing, and then I split the blue print in half using one piece to make a pocket on the backing for storing the dolls and their clothes and the other pieces for cutting out a pond for the dolls to splash in.

I stitched the pocket and the pond on the larger fat quarters first and then put the two pieces with right sides facing and stitched all around the edges, leaving a 2 inch gap to flip it right side out.  I flipped the mat right side out and used a ladder stitch to close the gap.  It's designed so that the kids can put their dolls and clothes in the pocket, fold it in half with the pocket side out, and then roll it up with the pocket inside to make a nice travel play set. Yes, I could iron it, but why?  The kids are just gong to wad it up while they play with it anyway. 

I was a little surprised at how much the boys got into this.  I have always suspected that girls may thrive more in the Waldorf environment, and have read several articles that supported my suspicion.  Typical "boy behavior" seems to be a bit more frowned upon in the lighthearted, knitting and dancing environment of the Waldorf School. That said, I think boys are often not given a chance to try on their softer side in a traditional classroom.  I like the idea of having a child led classroom, but that only works if you actually let the child lead by exposing them to all sorts of activities and images without regard to gender, and then let them take the lead in deciding where their time is invested.   So I learned a lot about the boys and what kind of imaginative play they can engage in when given the chance.

Anyway, I was surprised and happy to see the boys get so involved in picking out clothes for their dolls and deciding who each doll would be when it was wearing each outfit.  Hannah Jane designed a mom and a baby and just made them a wardrobe of clothes to change into.  Hunter and Haven worked together to make sure that they had all of their boy bases covered by making and outfit for a wizard, a dragon, a superman, a daddy, a farmer, and a football player.  They had camp out night the next night and they all requested to sleep with their Waldorf dolls so their dolls could play together by the pond.  The football player and the wizard were so happy to see the mom and the baby at the pond and everyone played happily ever after.

The plan with the dolls is to keep them around for travel play, but also so that we can act out social scenarios together.  Haven has had some difficulties getting along with brother and sister lately, and has been a bit defiant.  It is that season in life, for sure, but what I realize (with him more than either of my other kids at that age) is that once he's in the throws of emotion he can't even begin to hear my requests and comply with any degree of reason.  Hopefully, a day of so after an issue we can reenact it with our dolls and tryout different way of handling it.  His doll can smart off once and see how my doll reacts and then his doll can comply and see what happens after that. Perhaps Hannah Jane and Hunter can help reenact sibling trials as well and we can use this as a tool for making better future decisions.  Loft, Pie-in-the-Sky plans for these dolls, I know,  but why not give it a shot?


  1. This sounds like such fun.

    My suggestion is that when you re-enact, avoid having the child role play the negative solution. This isn't a rigid rule, but is generally a good idea. Get them to practice what you want them to do. If you want to create the contrast, your doll could role play first the inappropriate solution, and then reverse. They will remember what they practice - try to avoid letting them practice what you don't want. They may forget that it was the wrong solution.

  2. Ted, I get what you're saying. So what is a good way to help him predict other people's reactions when he behaves inappropriately? He seems to have a glitch in that department? I suspect that even if we only act out the high road, he'll still take the low road half the time.


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