The Handwork Curriculum at the Waldorf School of Atlanta is led by Lisa Roggow. Her loving care of the children is evident in these letters to parents of each grade.
Dear Third Grade Parents:
Now that the year is off and running, I wanted to update you regarding our plans for Handwork Class this year. Third grade is all about crochet. During first and second grade, the children worked with knitting, which used both hands working in unison in a balanced gesture. Now that we are beginning the nine year old change, we are working with crochet, which focuses on building dexterity in the dominant hand.
We begin by we are just learning to hold our hook and pull through stitches. We will practice this skill for several classes, during which the children will make three long crocheted cords, which will be braided into a belt.
Once everyone is comfortable with the form, we will begin working on a mug mat. Crochet stitches are more difficult to count than knitted stitches, and we will spend some time focusing on starting with 12 stitches and ending with the same number when we finish a new row. This challenge requires the children to perform multiple steps in sequence. The crochet stitch itself comes in two parts (“catch and pull through and then catch and pull through two”). Crocheting along a row requires the children to complete the entire stitch twelve times, use visual cues to recognize the stitches from the previous row, and remember to add an extra stitch that will allow them to turn without loosing a stitch. All of this goes into making their first little square, which will be our mug mat. Learning a new type of needle work is always a challenging business; the third grade will be required to work together to cultivate patience and support one another while they take up this new work.
Once we have the basics established and the mug mats are complete, we will begin working on pouches. New skills learned for this project include working in the round and changing colors. The pouch will be a conversation between two shades of the same color, beginning with the darker shade and working up to the light color at the top. We will learn double crochet or “tall stitch” at the top, in order to make a hole for the lacing cord, which will be done using another new technique called butterfly cord. Butterfly cord is like double finger chaining, and again it represents a step up, challenging the children to build upon skills they have already mastered by increasing the complexity.
Later this year we will complete our study of circular crochet by making a hat. This is a classic third grade project, because it interweaves so nicely with the shelter aspects of the curriculum. A hat is, at its most basic, a shelter for the head. During the nine year old change there is nothing like using your will forces to create your own protection. You might remember those sunny kindergarten days, when the teachers made sure everyone had on their hat and boots before a walk. Now that the children are growing into caring for themselves, they experience making this most basic protective garment on their own.
The remainder of the year will be taken up with other practical projects, such as pencil cases. Toward the middle of the third grade the children begin to work more independently at their own pace. By the end of the year some of the children may be working on extra projects.
It is, as always, a great pleasure to work with your children. Ms. Bulmer and I very much enjoy our time with them. If you have any questions about the handwork program or your child’s work, please feel free to contact me.