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Woodworking Magic

Woodworking Magic

A unique and wonderful part of Waldorf Education, which speaks to to the beauty and breadth of the philosophy as a whole, is Woodworking. Who better then to quote, then Ms. Edna Emmett who has graced us with her teaching talent as the art/woodwork teacher (as well as board Member, collegium member and past parent) at WSB for an incredible 30 years.

"The joy and excitement that lives in students while making objects out of wood- such a simple material and such an ancient way of making things - is a wonder to see. The program begins in grade three. These young students become alive when saws, files, sticks and whittling tools are in their hands. The energy is tangible in the room.

The woodworking program is an integral part of the Waldorf curriculum and very important for the development of a child’s sense for sculptural forms and for the realization on their own ideas. Although all children are given the same project and instructions each object looks very different, as it is an expression of their individual creative process. Through the grades the students refine their carving skills and sculptural abilities, using only hand tools, and are soon able to carve more complex forms and designs. At the time of completion students of all ages are touched by the beauty and uniqueness of the objects they created during many hours of using their own strength with gauges and files against the hardness of the wood.

This month, grade four students have been honing this ancient craft through their transformation transforming a found wooden stick from the Waldorf Woods into a toy of their own imagining, such as an, an airplane, a train, an animal, et. They learn to plan a project, to imagine the parts and to put it all together.

At the end of each lesson the teacher leads the class in a verse in order to release the effort and stand in reverence for the wood and the process.

In forest a tree did grow,

Through summer heat and winter snow.

Year, by year, ring by ring

The tree grew strong and big

In life it gave fresh air to breath,

A home for creatures great and small;

In death it gave to me some wood

To carve the very best I could.

My hands will work, my mind will think,

My heart will grow quite fond I think.

(Author unknown)

Wood working is a wonderful example of hands-on process based learning Waldorf Education is known for, the type of learning which lends itself to deep pride and personal satisfaction. To learn more about our special classes and their role in a holistic education, email us,

About the Author: Ms. Edna Emmett has been the art/woodwork teacher at WSB for 30 years. She was born in Poland and grew up in Israel. Edna received a BA in Art and Design from the Hornsey College of Art in London. For the next several years she traveled extensively, living in Japan and Greece. Subsequently, Edna studied Waldorf art education principles at the Tobias School of Art in Sussex, England, and explored the dynamic qualities of colors with the painter Beppe Assenza in Dornach, Switzerland. Edna resides in Baltimore. She teaches painting to adults and children. She exhibits her work in the USA, Canada, Europe, Brazil, Japan, India, and Israel, and her paintings can be found in numerous private collections, On the web at:

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