Philosophy

Rag dolls are one of the oldest types of toy. The British Museum has a Roman Rag Doll that dates from 300BC.

As the muscles of the hand grow firm and strong in performing the work for
which they are fitted, so the brain and other organs of the physical body
of man are guided into the right lines of development if they receive the
right impression from their environment. An example will best illustrate
this point. You can make a doll for a child by folding up an old napkin,
making two comers into legs, the other two corners into arms, a knot for
the head, and painting eyes, nose and mouth with blots of ink. Or else you
can buy the child what they call a ‘pretty’ doll, with real hair and
painted cheeks. We need not dwell on the fact that the ‘pretty’ doll is of
course hideous, and apt to spoil the healthy aesthetic sense for a
lifetime. The main educational question is a different one. If the child
has before him the folded napkin, he has to fill in from his own
imagination all that is needed to make it real and human. This work of the
imagination moulds and builds the forms of the brain. The brain unfolds as
the muscles of the hand unfold when they do the work for which they are
fitted. Give the child the so-called ‘pretty’ doll, and the brain has
nothing more to do. Instead of unfolding, it becomes stunted and dried up.
If people could look into the brain as the spiritual investigator can, and
see how it builds its forms, they would assuredly give their children only
such toys as are fitted to stimulate and vivify its formative activity.
Toys with dead mathematical forms alone, have a desolating and killing
effect upon the formative forces of the child. On the other hand
everything that kindles the imagination of living things works in the
right way. Our materialistic age produces few good toys. What a healthy
toy it is, for example, which represents by movable wooden figures two
smiths facing each other and hammering an anvil. The like can still be
bought in country districts. Excellent also are the picture-books where
the figures can be set in motion by pulling threads from below, so that
the child itself can transform the dead picture into a representation of
living action. All this brings about a living mobility of the organs, and
by such mobility the right forms of the organs are built up.

The Education of the Child in the Light of Anthroposophy Rudolf Steiner

Aids to development via play generally consist of simple materials drawn from natural sources that can be transformed imaginatively to fit a wide variety of purposes. Waldorf dolls are intentionally made simple in order to allow playing children to employ and strengthen their imagination and creativity.

The Waldorf approach emphasizes the role of the imagination, developing thinking that includes a creative as well as an analytic component

http://kids-toys.suite101.com/article.cfm/waldorf_toys_and_learning_theory

Waldorf Toys and Learning Theory
How Natural Playthings Build Imagination and Creativity

Jan 17, 2008 Jennifer White

Rag dolls are one of the oldest types of toy. The British Museum has a Roman Rag Doll that dates from 300BC.

Rag Baby dolls are made to a traditional Waldorf doll pattern.

Aids to development via play generally consist of simple materials drawn from natural sources that can be transformed imaginatively to fit a wide variety of purposes. Waldorf dolls are intentionally made simple in order to allow playing children to employ and strengthen their imagination and creativity.

The Waldorf approach emphasizes the role of the imagination,[2][3][4] developing thinking that includes a creative as well as an analytic component