Handwork is an important part of the Waldorf curriculum -- for good reason. Far from frivolous, the Waldorf School of Baltimore’s fiber arts program instills powerful personal lessons. Children build confidence as they develop a gradual mastery of skills, learn to problem solve and correct mistakes, and engage in critical thinking and spatial conceptualization. They also develop their wills – their perseverance – and the ability to ‘finish what they start’- all while engaging in the very practical and physical work of making useful and beautiful things.
And if that were not enough, before you scoff at a lesson planned around a sock, you might do well to remember this article which shined light on the growing concerns of medical school professors who are becoming increasingly alarmed by the lack of students manual dexterity, a vital skill required for surgeons.
As you would expect, each class is diving into very different projects aimed at developing skills appropriate for their age. Here is a peek into the projects we are tackling this Fall.
First grade begins the year crafting their own knitting needles; sanding dowels to a point, polishing with beeswax before finally being crowned with a beautiful wooden bead.
Second grade is deepening skills learned in grade one by knitting a scarf – and just in time too, as these crisp early September days remind us that Fall is just around the corner.
Third grade has started work on the Afghan project! A much loved WSB tradition whereby each child knits a foot long strip of wool which will then be sewn together to form a beautiful collaborative whole. The class generously donates this project to the annual Fall Gala and Silent Auction, where it raises much appreciated funds for student scholarships and teacher development.
Fourth grade has been packing up their fiber arts project this fall and enjoying their afternoon outside, where they have begun work on an embroidery sample. For many students, this is their first experience sewing with needle and thread.
Fifth grade is making Professor Dumbledore proud (any Harry Potter fans out there?) by knitting a pair of warm woolen socks. Their “minds were blown” to discover that when knitting in the round (a new skill) they will be using not one, not two, but four needles! Three hold the stiches, while they knit with the fourth.
Sixth grade and Seventh grade classes, a bit unusually, are starting off the year working on the same project – a Waldorf Doll, a much anticipated project which the seventh grade class didn’t have the opportunity to complete due to COVID-19 closures in 2020. When the class requested the project (usually this time of year would find them dying their own wool) Ms. Jung couldn’t resist their enthusiasm and happily agreed.
Eighth grade starts the year off on a mechanical sewing machine, a first in their 8-year fiber arts journey! For their Fall project they are creating pillows – a future gift to the first grade.