Welcome to Wood Nymph Way! I have created this blog with two intentions: (A) keeping our family and friends, many of whom live in lands Far Far Away, up to date with what we've been doing, and (B) as a tool to document and learn from our journey as a Waldorf homeschooling family. Enjoy! And don't forget to check out my resource pages on the right!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Learning Patience

Late last week, during our art time, we got out the kids' brand new boxes of modelling wax.  After exploring and naming the different colors and noticing the warm beeswaxy scent, we proceeded to soften it up using the warmth of our hands.  Now, if you've never used modelling wax before, you should know that this is not qickly done.  It's pretty stiff, and warming it takes a great deal of time and patience.

F warming his wax
When S decided it was to hard to soften it just to her liking, she began to lose interest in making something with the material.  We happened to be working at the table, which had two tea lights burning in lanterns the kids had made.  (My kids love candle light and request it at every meal.  We had just finished lunch and had left the candles burning.)  I held my piece of wax over the top of the lantern jar, where the heat was just warm enough, and VOILA!  In moments we had lovely, soft, pliable wax.

Following suit, F and S both warmed their pieces and delighted in the soft, silky texture, and pearly, translucent colors of the wax.  It is truly a joy to work with, unlike anything we have ever used.  So with the softening figured out, we moved on to actually forming shapes with our fingers.  In the past, I have made playdough with the kids.  Playdough is soft, can be acted upon quickly and with force (pounding, rolling, cutting) and will comply easily with the maker's hands or tools.  Beeswax is no such thing.  It must be pinched, pulled, rolled, and otherwise shaped with the fingers alone.  ("What amazing fine-motor work!" the teacher in me thought.  I immediately vowed to put away the playdough.) 

from left to right, F's mushrooms,
my gnome, S's gnome and mushroom

This activity pushed my kids to the limits of their patience.  Between waiting for the wax to soften and taking the time to work slowly and thoughtfully with their fingers, they had almost had it.  But they pushed through and were greatly rewarded for their perseverence.  Before we knew it, we had several mushrooms and two cute gnomes.  Over an hour had passed by the time we were done for the day.  If you can get a two and a half year old and a four and a half year old to sit happily and do anything for over an hour, I congratulate you.  It is no easy task.  Now that the kids are both learning to understand that the quick and easy way is not always the best way, they will be open to so many possibilities in their learning.

I am so grateful to be teaching them in the Waldorf fashion.  I think about the way I was forced to teach in a public school and about all the opportunities that the students miss out on for learning patience, the ability to focus, and the value of purposeful activities.  It is wonderful to see these things come to life in my own children as they polish their wooden toys with beeswax, or learn to sew with a running stitch, as S did today.  And most of all it is so delightful to see them take pride in the work they were patient enough to do.

S and her first running stitch!



  1. I just found your blog and love it, thank you for the brilliant inspiration!

  2. Welcome! So glad you found us, enjoy!