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 Fourth Grade Parents:
Welcome to the new school year! I wanted to reach out to you to share some information about this year’s handwork curriculum.
Our primary medium in grade four is cross stitch. This gives us an opportunity to focus on very fine motor skills, working with a sharp needle and learning a cross stitch technique that incorporates crossing the midline with each stitch. Midline work actually permeates the entire fourth grade curriculum: it can be found in knotted form drawings, eurythmy movements, games classes, and class warm up activities. Among other things, crossing the midline supports mathematical skills that the children are learning at this time.
Of course there are many ways to cross stitch, but the Waldorf style works within a carefully defined form. Children use their dominant hand to do all of the stitching, learning to swoop the needle from the front of the canvas, across the back and out the front again in one continuous motion. This task sharpens eye hand coordination and develops pattern recognition.
We also work with color theory. Six rainbow colors are available in three shades each. For our first major project, a bookmark, the children are allowed to choose two color families, giving them six different shades. The bookmark is intended to be a conversation between these colors. Limiting this project to two color families really sharpens the children’s awareness of subtitles of shading and hue. While some of the color “conversations” are simple and straightforward, others are amazingly complex. Nonetheless, the available palette guarantees that all the bookmarks will be beautiful.
Finally, the bookmark form previews the work the children will be doing with fractions and plotting points in space. All colors on the bookmark are duplicated on the left and right sides, so if you were to fold it in half it would be a mirror image. Essentially, this is two halves. Once the children have mastered this process, we will move on to pincushions, which are done in quarters with the added complexity of a centerline. In this case the form the children create will duplicate itself in all directions, including diagonally. Our fourth graders will be using color to plot points on a gridline in all four directions.
Fourth grade cross stitch is delightful balance of form and freedom. Through use of symmetry and simple color choices, the children create truly beautiful designs that are always unique, reflecting something of the nature of the artist. Cross stitch one of the most popular subjects we teach in Handwork. I look forward to working with your children again this year. Should you have any questions about the Handwork program, please feel free to contact me.