Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Steiner style toys

It occurred to me that it might be a good idea to explain a little bit about what Steiner toys actually are.  In a word, gnomes.
Image courtesy of Growmama

Like this,
Image courtesy of Growmama
And this
Image courtesy of Chocolate Eyes
And these
Of course, thats not the only thing that Steiner or Waldorf toys can be, but it is the most easily recognisable form that these kinds of toys take.  There are a couple of really important factors that make something Steiner.  The first is that they are in some respects 'formless'.  
Image courtesy of Growmama
Steiner style toys generally have either no faces, or only minimal facial features.  I have to say that when I first started seeing these kinds of toys, I found the lack of faces a bit creepy.  I initially found them a bit empty looking, and found it a little disturbing.  Their faces are empty on purpose though.
The idea is that if there are no facial features, then children are free to express a full range of emotions and ideas through their toys without being constrained - or prompted - by any expression already on the toys face.  Steiner philosophy is all about the freedom of imaginative play.  And now that I am used to looking at these kinds of toys, I don't find them creepy at all, and P and J don't find it at all strange that their baby dolls don't have faces.

Image courtesy of Growmama
Another really strong feature in Steiner inspired toys is the use of natural materials.  Wool, especially wool roving and felt feature highly.
Image courtesy of Chocolate Eyes
Wood is another classic Steiner material.  But don't feel that you absolutely have to use natural materials, I used some polyester stuffing for my baby dolls, because its all I had on hand.

If you're looking for some inspiring Steiner blogs, here are a few to check out:

  • Natural Suburbia - if you only check out one blog, then this is a good one.  Linda blogs about homeschooling her kids, her wonderful knitting patterns and be sure to check out her Creative Friday series.
  • Growmama is a lovely Steiner focussed kiwi blog.  Anissa is also currently running a series on creative mamas.
  • Chocolate Eyes - this is a great Steiner blog, and there are some lovely wooden toys here, as well as a fantastic tutorial on how to make them
  • Rhythm and Rhyme - I talked about this blog in my baby doll post
  • The Little Gnomes Home - this is another Australian Steiner inspired blog, with some really thought provoking posts.


  1. oh goodie, new blogs to check out! ...those wooden rainbow tinted gnomes from chocolate eyes are just wonderful...thanks.

  2. Beautiful post! I love what you say about natural materials but then also using what's on hand as well. I think it's so fun and important to make toys with your kids, I started by using what I had on hand as well.

    Thanks so much for including me!


  3. I can agree with the "creepy" part in terms of the blank faces (also my initial reaction). I only have the creeps when it comes to the human figures though, not the animals. Probably because we are all used to seeing animals depicted in all sorts of media, carved and such....no biggie. But humans, it seems that the face was always THE most detailed part of a doll/sculpture/image. That's HOW you related to it AND therefore proving Steiner's message.


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