I’ve been away from blogging for a week or so, with technical difficulties — hate when that happens. But, we’re back up and running just in time for a giveaway!
I’ve been wanting to post a review on one of the Waldorf supplies that I use daily — both for myself and my students — and that is modelling beeswax.
Stockmar makes these great sheets of modelling beeswax that children can use to create all kinds of things. Many of my students were so skilled with beeswax that it became their go-to material when they needed anything for a project. It comes in a variety of colors, though my favorite is the plain gold or the pale pink. It has a beautiful translucent quality when spread thin and when used in this way a little goes a long way. The warmer it is, the easier it is to work with, and because of this it can provide a little window into the child’s being. I remember noticing how some children who were full of life were able to soften up their beeswax right away. Other times the hardness of the beeswax helped me to realize that a child needed a cup of tea or a warm sweater. Some teachers warm the children’s beeswax using a heating pad or a cup of warm water, but I usually found that if the children put the beeswax in their “little ovens” (their armpits) while I told them a story, it would soften right up.
Very often children in the younger grades and kindergarten have a beeswax lesson each week during which the teacher tells a story while the children soften their beeswax and then the teacher leads the children through making something from the story (a much less guided approach is used in the kindergarten). Though a weekly beeswax lesson can be a wonderful thing, there are many other ways beeswax can be used in a Waldorf environment. Here are my top five uses for beeswax. . .
- Making people, pets, flower gardens and food to go with dollhouses. My children could do this for hours. Definitely one of those times when the set-up for the play is so enjoyable and takes so much of the focus that the play itself is secondary and maybe never even happens at all.
- As a free-rendering activity in the recall portion of main lesson. Beeswax can be a great way for children to synthesize and fully digest some of the material they study. There are some subjects that can be best understood through modelling, like botany, human and animal, and even physiology and anatomy in the upper grades. Clay can be used for some of these subjects, but the experience of modelling with beeswax is a very different one that is much more warming and nourishing than the cold, drying out experience of clay work.
- A material to appease the “fiddlers.” There are some children who always need to have something in their hands. I found that if I didn’t give them something, they would find something ontheir own and come up with elaborate mechanical inventions using the contents of my paper clip dish. Instead, I made an agreement with these children that they could hold onto some beeswax and model it with their hands in their laps, while they listened to me at story time. It was a great compromise.
- A rest-time pacifier. The children in my aftercare program who have a hard time staying still at rest time get a little bit of beeswax to hold onto. It helps them to stay active and engaged, but quiet enough for the younger children to fall asleep.
- A candle holder. When we can’t get the candle to stick in the candle holder a little bit of beeswax does the trick. Sometimes we even create a new candleholder out of the beeswax itself.
For my very first giveaway I asked my friends at my local Waldorf toy store, Fairhaven Toygarden, if they had some beeswax they’d be willing to give to the cause. They came through and have donated a collection of 9 sticks of beeswax in all the colors you really need — red, gold and green!
To enter the giveaway comment to this post and just for fun mention your favorite beeswax creation. I’ll use a random number generator to choose the winner that I will announce on Wednesday.
After you leave your comment go check out the Fairhaven Toygarden website. They have a great collection of imaginative toys and games, but also Waldorf supplies including wool roving, fountain pens, Lyra pencils, and, of course, beeswax. They’re a small, local business run by really wonderful people. If you buy something, let them know I sent you.
My series on story resources still needs completing so this weekend I’ll work on story resources for 7th and 8th grade. Thanks for reading and good luck with the giveaway!