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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


  • I LOVED hearing from your son what was important to him as a child! I certainly will incorporate theses ideas into my grand parenting. Thanks!!

    ANn on
  • Thank you, Harper, for your shared childhood memories and recommendations. As a Waldorf Early Childhood teacher in training and a grandmother of 6 very young grandsons, I am grateful for your testimonial from a boy’s play perspective!

    Deanna on
  • I have three daughters who attended a Waldorf school. They absolutely loved a small scrub board, some clothesline and miniature clothes pins. I cannot tell you how many times they washed their doll clothes, socks and washcloths over and over again.

    They also enjoyed making ‘stew‘ from onion grass, acorns, …Anything they could find in the garden. They would stir it up on their wooden stove top.

    They would pound wooden golf tees into a big blob of play dough using a small hammer.

    Now that I have grandchildren, they are being introduced to these same types of activities!

    Francesca on
  • I have three adult daughters who attended Waldorf school

    Francesca on


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