The educational lectures of Rudolf Steiner often speak about the special qualities and needs of the young child, as well as the inner attitude and soul qualities that the adult needs to acquire to support the development of the child. However, if one is looking for a detailed description of how a Waldorf kindergarten looks and the concrete activities that should take place there, these are not to be found in the works of Rudolf Steiner. No program and no recipes.
There are however a few exceptions, a few details that Steiner describes quite concretely. And the doll is one of these. A Waldorf doll is compatible with the education philosophies of Steiner. These dolls are made of natural fibers (felt, wool, cotton, or linen) from their stuffing to their hair to their clothing. The makers use techniques drawing on traditional European doll-making.
The appearance is intentionally simple in order to allow the child playing with it to develop the imagination and creative play. For instance, it has either no facial features, or a simple neutral expression. The legs and arms are soft and if flexible allow natural postures.
Here is a summary of arguments by Rudolf Steiner why these ephemeral but extremely lively play companions are so important for the development of the child:
Steiner wrote in 1923: „Give a child a handkerchief or a piece of cloth, knot it so that a head appears above and two legs below, and you have made a doll or a kind of clown. With a few ink stains you can give it eyes, nose, and mouth, or even better, allow the child to do it.“
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