Moldable Beeswax

The days are growing shorter and though the leaves have just begun to show their autumn colors winter is already on my mind. As the weather begins to cool I find myself bringing more natural materials inside, preparing for the days when the cold is too much for the little ones to bear.

I gather acorns and pinecones to adorn the shelves of my classroom like treasures for little hands to discover, sticks and pressed flowers, and dried goldenrod are scattered about like precious jewels for the children to create and imagine with.

I love to include nature in my program, especially in the months when the weather can be too harsh for our adventures outdoors. Beeswax is my favorite natural material to explore with my little friends on cold dull days when we are stranded inside; the smell of honey reminds us of the plump bumblebees we observed flitting from flower to flower in their sweet, clumsy way in the warm months of summer. We’ve made candles and polish for our toys from beeswax but I just recently discovered a recipe for moldable beeswax and I think the children will absolutely love it.

Moldable beeswax is a learning tool often used in Waldorf programs; it is an amazing material that allows children to practice fine motor, creative representation, and planning skills. Play with moldable beeswax requires patience as well because it must be warmed in the children’s hands before it is malleable enough to use.

Moldable Beeswax Recipe

Ingredients

1 pound of beeswax
5 tbsp coconut oil
4 tsp lanolin

Materials

Crock-Pot or
Microwave safe bowl
Measuring spoons
Spoon for stirring
Muffin tin & liners

Directions

Melt the beeswax in a crock pot (or microwave safe bowl in the microwave), then mix in the coconut oil and lanolin. Take a small amount out to test (carefully as it will be hot); If your wax mixture is a bit too crumbly add more oil, if it is too sticky add a bit more wax.
When you’re happy with the way it feels pour your wax mixture into a lined muffin tin and allow to cool.

(craftingagreenworld)

To make moldable beeswax children nust measure, observe and combine materials to create something new; it’s a fantastic, organic way to explore math and science. There are so many opportunities for learning in such a simple activity.

Let Them Play! Messy Play in Early Learning and Care

A toddler sits on the edge of a puddle, grinning as she digs her toes deep into the welcoming mud. Another child joins her and uses the damp soil to paint his arms and face, he is filthy and absolutely beaming with joy as he explores this wonderful stuff with his peer.

At the table not far away a pair of little ones are squeezing gobs of paint on to a log cookie and swirling the colors together with their hands.

“What color will it make?”

“I wonder what will happen if we add water?”

There is no right or wrong way to play in messy explorations.

One child might turn a mud puddle in to a paint palette while another may find a leaf and make a boat to sail across the surface of the water. Everyone can participate in messy play because there are no expectations; the materials are open ended allowing children to use and explore them in a variety of different ways which fosters creativity and innovation.

Take a step back and give the children the opportunity to get messy, discover new things, make mistakes and try again. According to author and early childhood expert Bev Bos, “Our flexibility and willingness to follow a child’s lead will allow remarkable things to happen, if we let them.”

As a fledgling early childhood educator messy sensory play used to make me flinch. The classroom would be a disaster! The horror! Yet, when I let go and began to really allow children to explore the process without focus on an outcome or a product I discovered their learning was much more rich and deep.

Children are naturally driven to learn through messy or sensory play. Though it can sometimes look destructive and, well, messy, allowing children the opportunity to discover new things in this hands on, concrete way is invaluable. Research shows that children build cognitive skills through play experiences in which they have the opportunity to use all of their senses (K. Butcher & J. Pletcher, 2016 – Cognitive development and sensory play).

In my program most of our messy play activities take place outside, especially during the warmer months. Nature provides so many sensory experiences, different materials, and space for exploring. The indoor environment takes a bit of preparation but messy play in the classroom can be just as engaging … just be sure to get the mop and wash cloths ready!

Some ways to support messy play for young children in the classroom learning space include:

  1. Tarps, lots of tarps. Lay them down where you will be allowing children to explore messy materials like paint or clay.
  2. Make sure you use art supplies that are easily washable. Putting a bit of dish soap in paint, for example, can make clothes easier to tidy after exploring with process art.
  3. If you’re worried about stains use smocks to help limit them.
  4. Give out materials in small amounts, allowing more as children request it. This way children get what they need and aren’t overwhelmed with stuff (and you aren’t overwhelmed by mess!)
  5. Seal the messy materials in bottles or Ziploc bags for tidier sensory play. For example, squeeze a little hair gel and sparkles in to a zippy and tape it shut! This can be really beneficial for children who aren’t fond of the icky-sticky stuff.

Whether inside or outside allowing children the opportunity to explore self-directed messy play is so important.

“One of the most valuable gifts educators and parents can bestow on children is messy play,” explains Lesley Cressman, RECE. “In messy play children are able to push the envelope on their own natural curiosity.”

Messy play allows children to learn concepts organically that we would struggle to teach using archaic methods such as teacher directed activities or worksheets. Through messy play experiences little ones discover the scientific process, mathematical concepts, learn to express themselves creatively, and practice social skills such as turn taking and communication.

As Neil Degrassi Tyson said, “Don’t get in the way of children who find it natural and obvious to explore the world around them – even if it means they make a mess of your kitchen or living room. It’s all about your perspective on these things. Let them play.”