My New Un-Waldorfy Secret

For a morning so quiet you could hear the proverbial dropping pin, even on a weekday when the kids usually get up early and sound like a ravening mob:

LEGOs.

The kids have been briefly exposed to LEGOs a few times, mostly at Nana’s house on vacation. We’ve resisted their siren call (and it required resistance, both from the Waldorf front and from our knowledge that they are so fun that they can take over playtime), but the boy has been really asking for them. Over and over.

So we thought about it, and decided, like The Not Quite Crunchy Parent has said so often, that if you observe creative play despite the toy’s undesirable qualities, maybe it’s OK to compromise.

Certainly they are: hard, plastic, aggressively rectilinear, unnaturally colored, structured, etc. etc.

But, they’ve already made about four thousand different things since I bought them two bags of random pieces and two green “grass” bases yesterday. There has been sharing, and collaboration. There was even a moment last night when all four of us were happily playing together.

And that’s not bad.

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “My New Un-Waldorfy Secret

  1. Ah, yes. We have some legos. As plain legos they are very open ended and allow for a lot of creativity and collaboration.

    There are some sets now which are to create pre-determined characters, which seems silly which (defeats the whole purpose to me…). Legos have entered via birthday gifts a few times, and we found a special lego table at a garage sale for 2 bucks, so we have a spot that can store them and looks like a normal table – and then when they want to play with them we just flip the table top.

    My boys will both create mazes and homes and cities and tell elaborate stories for the residents. And they work together. Not too bad. 🙂

  2. 95% of Lo’s toys are “waldorf approved”, not to mention all the playing she does with sticks, rocks, boxes…. So what if the other 5% is sitting in a box for her to play with once and awhile? They are still incorporated into delightfully imaginative play. They are usually transformed into something completely different from what they really are anyway!
    Enjoy that cohesiveness!

  3. Eve

    I’ve had trouble finding Legos locally unless they are in a themed box (as Denise mentions). Actual, random, Fundementalist Legos (because they are not predestined, hee hee) are harder and harder to come by.

    When my oldest son was four and five years old, one could buy entire huge tubs of Legos at Toys R Us or Wal Mart. The last time I checked Toys R Us, which was about two months ago, they had plenty of Star Wars and pirate-themed boxed sets, but nothing fundamental. I think that’s a shame.

  4. Well, the world does have square, chunky, hard-edged, plastic bits in it – lots of them. At least LEGO lets you reconfigure them in a infinity of ways.

  5. All: what I’m hearing is that yes, LEGOs are structured in one way, but really unstructured in another. I am lucky enough to live quite close to a LEGO store! So I can find buckets and buckets of “fundamentalist” bricks. (Eve: I love that!) In fact, the entire back wall of the store is fitted with buckets of single color and shape bricks, wheels, etc. like an old-fashioned candy store. Most of the rest is all prefab kits, but I was encouraged to see all the plain stuff in the back.

    Over the last two days, it’s pretty much been all LEGO play while the kids have been at home. I’m hoping that will subside soon. Unfortunately Anthropapa now wants a turn to go to the LEGO store….

  6. I have a few un-Waldorfy secrets as well. We love Lego at our house ;).

  7. Ooh, I’ll tell the Waldorf police on you!!!!
    My little brother loved lego, and my Dad bought me a set once. He was horrified when I took the box and built exactly what was on the box … because he and my brother always just built from their imaginations – but I wanted to follow instructions!!!! Modern lego can be terribly branded, but I’m with you on the classic lego building – and just to be controversial I’m going to say that personally I think Rudolf Steiner would have loved it!

  8. We’re even worse….we have a STAR WARS lego ship.It’s one of Lou’s prized possessions. 🙂 I’ll hasten to add that she’s never seen Star Wars….but is quite proud to have this ship.

  9. Ooh, all the Waldorf confessions are coming out! 🙂

    I’m not sure what Steiner would have thought, because he sure could be surprising at times. He might have approved of them for older kids, who knows?

  10. While I never would buy a Barbie doll I think Legos are good and much fun. And just as I don’t think bad literature will kill a child I don’t think a few plastic toys will ruin a child’s life. You have to read trash to learn the difference between good and bad literature. My teacher (in a Waldorf school) certainly didn’t think so and made it very clear when she caught me reading some sentimental trash during a lesson!
    Margaretha

  11. We used to have such fun playing Lego when we were little. We used to make these huge imaginative houses with it, it would keep us quiet for days on end! Kiko is very much into his Duplo and I can see he’ll be into Lego when the time comes. Funnily enough, he prefers the ordinary bricks to the more structured pieces because he can make what he likes out of them. We bought a big pile of it (Duplo) off e-bay. The big downside to Lego and Duplo in my opinion is that it’s so expensive in the shops!

    (Hey, I went to Legoland as a kid, I’ll have to find the photos next time I’m in UK!)

  12. Hey Mama!
    One of the few plastic toys we allow are Legos. I was reluctant as well and must admit that I am still tempted at times to get rid of them (I just dislike how lifeless they look). I often have to step back and ask myself WHY I am against something.. is it because it isnt ‘waldorf’ enough.. what I truly want is for my children to use their imaginations and create when they play without a predetermined ending. And although lifeless and plastic, the girls have made those Legos ‘come to life’ hundreds of times – from castles, to parking lots, to gardens and more…

  13. Alida

    Oh we are very fond of Lego’s around here. Even when we get the boxed sets, the kids end up taking them apart and making their very own, very cool stuff.

    My husband is planning to take Luke to a Lego convention in Seattle as a birthday gift. (Yes, my husband is also a Star Wars fan…I had to travel deep into the dork forest to find him! 🙂

  14. Margaretha: I think Anthropapa and I are pretty firmly in the mode of not completely banning most things, but firmly preferring the more Waldorfy things. We don’t want to create forbidden fruit, but yet it can be a slippery slope.

    Helen: I have lots of fond memories of LEGO from my childhood, too. And I only had the plain blocks (did they even have the other kind yet?) Papa and I have played with them almost as much as the kids!

    Eileen: There is a certain amount of Waldorf dogma, isn’t there? I was just reading a specific criticism of LEGO in Guide to Child Health. Aside from the plastic, they criticized the “unnatural” way that the bricks click together, because unlike with wood blocks, the child doesn’t get a sense of balance and proportion, and “real” things aren’t made that way. I immediately thought of one thing: rebar. Evidently German anthroposophical physicians don’t know about reinforced concrete masonry 🙂

    Alida: I think we’ll be OK with the boxed sets as long as the accompanying diagrams and packaging go away quickly, so the kids don’t get stuck replicating what they see. Hmm…husband is a Star Wars fan, and the son is named Luke…coincidence? 😉

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