The philosophy of Heart and Hands is firmly rooted in the Waldorf tradition of a natural materials play based environment. Our daily rhythm is focused on deep play by leaving the middle of the day open for creative free play both indoors and out. The teacher-directed portions of the day (circle time, group table activities, story time, meals) are concentrated at the beginning and end of each preschool day to allow for the longest possible stretch of creative free play mid-morning.
We strive to make sure all of our art supplies are safe, non-toxic and as washable as possible (though some arts supplies wash out better than others). The toys that the children play with are generally made of natural materials (wood, glass, metal, ceramics, etc.) with a few exceptions.
The projects we offer the children are often long term, taking planning and ongoing work. We do not try to offer instant gratification through our art projects. We strive to teach the children the value of long-term commitment for important projects in our lives. Art concerning young children is also an in the moment process, meaning that the process the children go through is more important than the outcome.
Like our art projects, our toys generally consist of simple materials drawn from natural sources that can be transformed imaginatively to fit a wide variety of purposes. Blocks become a house, a police station, a castle or a fire engine. The sand box offers extensive explorations or the ingredients for a mud feast. The natural materials serve both to remind children of the source of their toys and provide a biofeedback loop that cold hard plastic can’t.