My Son Harper's Five Favorite Waldorf Toys

Posted by Sarah Baldwin on

Today, I'd like to introduce you to a special guest: my son, Harper!

Harper was Waldorf educated from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, and I invited him to share with you his favorite toys from childhood. Some of them even surprised his own mother!


Without further ado, I'll turn things over to Harper.

1. The American Boy's Handybook

My first favorite "toy," is a book! The American Boy's Handybook, written by one of the founders of the Boy Scouts of America, was basically my bible growing up. This useful volume offers instruction in all manner of cool projects. Some of my favorite guides included how to make a crossbow, log raft construction, spear fishing, and collecting freshwater specimens for a home aquarium.

The Handybook has been around for some time, so don’t be surprised if some of the projects aren’t terribly feasible in this day and age (whalebone seems to have been more readily available when it was published, for instance). However, the greatest charm this book possesses is its ability to inspire children to go outside, explore nature, and make things with their hands. Even if none of the specific projects in the volume are tackled, it’s a fun read and deserves a place on every kid’s bookshelf.

2. Wooden Sword

One toy that I kept constantly within reach, from the time I could first grasp one until I almost reached adolescence, was a wooden sword. Little boys seem especially and unavoidably drawn toward weapon play and, as a child raised without toy guns, a wooden sword satisfied my own need nicely.

I simply can’t imagine my childhood without a wooden sword. Certainly, the world would be much overrun by dragons today if I hadn’t spent so many hours slaying them in my backyard (you’re welcome). This is a must-have for dress-up and imaginative play!

3. Ostheimer Wooden Figures

I grew up without plastic toys, which means that I didn’t have the normal childhood assortment of action figures. But that doesn’t mean I was lacking. My “action figures” were Ostheimer wooden figures.

These beautiful toys come in all different species and characters: woodland animals, exotic beasts, dragons, kings, princesses, fairytale characters. I particularly liked the knights, complete with action figure-esque accessories such as swords, spears, shields, horses, etc. I even had a big play castle where I would act out chivalrous scenes with my Ostheimer toys.

The best part about these figures is their heirloom quality. Unlike a plastic Batman action figure, which inevitably and quickly ends up broken in a landfill, these toys last a lifetime. I still have all my old figures and hope to pass them on to my own children someday!

4. Real Tools

I often see children playing with plastic, toy tools: goofy, chunky, and useless screwdrivers and hammers made of rubber. This, to me, seems a shame. Why not give your child real tools that they can use? I started using real, functional tools at a young age and they completely broadened the scope of my play.

It might sound strange, but one of my favorite activities in Kindergarten was digging holes. My school had a little shed full of real, metal shovels. Every recess my friends and I would troop up to the collection, find our favorite shovel (sometimes a source of contention), and just dig. My Mom, when she was an early childhood teacher, had a stump in the schoolyard where children could just practice hammering nails. What seems like drudgery to adults can actually be fun for kids!

Your local hardware store undoubtedly carries smaller versions of common hand tools. Also, Bella Luna Toys carries child-sized versions of shovels and gardening tools.

5. A Piece of Wood

Yep, a piece of wood. Boards, of all different shapes and sizes. Lumber of any kind, really.

Kids, especially those armed with real tools, need wood for EVERYTHING. As a child, I was constantly on the hunt for that most precious resource. I needed wood to make treehouses, to make my own wooden swords, even to make backyard catapults. A good board was worth its weight in gold, and it never went to waste. One week it would be propped against a tree to make a lean-to, the next it would be re-purposed into a boat-building project.

My grade school had a small collection of planks that were so valued by my classmates and I, we would have (harmless) “wars” over which factional alliance had control over them. Perhaps ironically, the primary reason we needed the boards was for the construction of forts to aid our ongoing battle efforts.

The versatility of a stout board makes it my all-time favorite toy.

What were your favorite toys as a child? We'd love to read about them in the comments below!

Favorite Toys

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Comments


  • When I was little, my favorite toy was my little stove. It had “real” burners that would glow red, knobs to turn, and a most satisfying oven which would light up when the oven door was opened.

    Mary on
  • Thanks sooo much for doing this! Great-Grandsons of 6 and 11…this has reinforced so much..esp, for gramma bookish is the lead on the American Boy book…All the rest is already ‘in play’ And…we def need to make more tools handy…
    Thanks Again,,,,,off to meet the other Wise Men coming over the rise…(insert prayer hands emoji here :)
    Gramma Concept

    GrammaConcept on
  • What a great list! Having two teenage boys and a toddler boy I can second that list. Just today my 13 year old was walking around the yard looking for planks of wood to create with. I think it’s important to say, that by limiting the choice of other toys, is how that creativity is discovered.
    My boys loved bits of rope as well…..thick rope when they were younger and into paracord around 8yrs old to learn braiding, knots, etc.
    Also the most used real tool was prob a hack saw, pocket knife, hammer and most importantly a small heavy clamp to hold the wood in place while they would saw away on small pieces of wood. Around 5 is when they started with the real tools.
    Thank you for the reminder of the joy of creativity for little boys. It sets them up for a lifetime of great problem solving skills. I see to this day, in my boys, the love of creating/building.

    Rachel on
  • Was great to read this! My son Jacob was a lot like Harper- he also LOVED to dig holes in our back yard! We had a stump out back too. Jacob had a small axe to cut wood and branches that he used to make fires in his small bbq grill. He also loved his wooden sword, and his unit block set came with 6 large wooden boards which added so much creativity to using the blocks, but also those boards were used for other purposes.

    We have lots of wooden figures too- Ostheimer, Holztiger, etc. that my son and 2 daughters enjoyed playing with and using in the seasonal tables.

    Thanks for sharing your favorites with us, Harper!

    Cheryl Peterson on
  • When I wasn’t exploring in the woods, I liked to cut the clothes models from the Sears catalog to use as paper dolls. Back then, my father had his shirts dry cleaned and they would be returned neatly pressed around a rectangle of cardboard. My mother saved these for craft projects, my favorite of was to create furniture for the paper dolls.

    Chris on


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