Using Beeswax with a First Grader

Using Beeswax with a First Grader: Question from Member

The other day in the Grade 1 weekly catch up, we were discussing beeswax… Specifically for sculpting the letters as we learn them. Our daughter really struggled with being able to bring the letter together well in this medium, because of it’s firmness and often its inability to ‘come back together into a smooth one piece medium’ once it’s been broken off into pieces and then attempted to bring back into one piece… anyway, the process was causing her, myself and our whole family a great deal of stress. We have done several letters and persevered, because I didn’t want to just ‘give up because it was hard’, but DH and I both got to the point where we could see the process was causing more stress than doing any good… I had asked Kristie about her thoughts on this process pedagogically and anthroposophically in relation to using the beeswax for the letters as opposed to possibly an easier medium like a clay, which still has s firmness to begin with and needs the ‘will working’ of warming/loosening it up to bring into form.

Just to clarify, we do use the beeswax for a fair bit of modelling, we warm it slightly first on the hot water heater to bring it out of its ‘rock’ state (we live in quite a cold climate), and our daughter does enjoy and is quite able with the wax in these applications of modelling figures etc, but the letters and numbers out of the beeswax are proving quite challenging to get a decent letter form. My thought is that the form is quite important and possibly more so than the medium used in this instance. I guess if you’ve got time to write a post/article at some point about the therapeutic/pedagogical benefits of the beeswax, then many of us I think would find that very interesting… Alternatively if you know some good online articles about the soul/developmental/pedagogical aspects of working with this medium that you could link us to, that’d be great  xxxx

Answer from Waldorf Teacher, Diane Power

I would like to start with the question on beeswax. There is a very informative article written by Arthur Auer, Director of the Waldorf Teacher Education Program at Antioch University, in the Autumn/Winter 2012, Volume 17 #2 issue of the Research Bulletin entitled “Modeling Clay – for All Ages?” found at www.waldorflibrary.org under Journals.

Based on his observations, I believe clay would be well suited for making letters. Mr. Auer states that beeswax serves the sense-nerve will or head/hand coordination. Clay, on the other hand, uses whole hand movements, exercising feeling-will. “This in turn allows the students to focus more on feeling the quality of the forms rather than on conceptual associations.”

Arthur Auer is also the author of Learning about the World through Modeling: Sculptural Ideas for School and Home.

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