Santa Cruz Waldorf School provides a well-funded, robust practical arts program. Students are
enthusiastic about practical arts classes and many of them do beautiful work that is a
lasting source of satisfaction. Doing the work imbues students with patience,
attention to detail, and manual dexterity. The classes provide a different setting from
frontal instruction that is not possible in other disciplines. Moreover, the practical arts
provide an opportunity for students with gifts in this area to experience the gratification
of having their accomplishments praised by their teachers and classmates
In handwork, coordination of the hands and eyes is developed using
rhythmic movements. These rhythmic movements lay the groundwork for future
flexibility and clarity in thinking. With dedication and determination each child creates
many useful and beautiful items throughout their years in handwork class. High quality
natural materials are used whenever possible. Strong emphasis is placed on the
importance of the creative process as a form of individual or group pride and
empowerment. Social exchange and interaction are an integral part of the fabric of the
community of each class where the students share, learn about each other, and work at
the same time.
In kindergarten, all children are given opportunities to work with fiber along with the
kindergarten teacher. Finger knitting, and simple, assisted felt making and felt sewing
projects are offered throughout the year. Occasionally students participate in using
natural, plant-based dyes with pieces of silk for scarves, curtains, play cloths or capes.
Beginning in first grade, students have regular handwork classes with the school’s
handwork teacher. First through third grade offer knitting, crocheting and seasonal crafts.
Fourth grade introduces cross-stitch embroidery. Fifth grade includes intermediate
knitting with multiple needles and working with patterns. Sixth through eighth grade
bring sewing techniques, beginning with hand sewing simple stuffed animals and moving
on to machine sewing of clothing and costumes in grade eight.
Woodworking begins in the fifth grade at the Santa Cruz Waldorf School
and continues through high school.
In fifth grade, students start by carving small eggs from branches and then move on to
carving a large spoon. In the sixth grade, students carve toys that have moving parts and
usually rely on balance and counterbalance for motion. Seventh graders carve a wooden
bowl and in eighth grade students build small clocks and benches. Eighth graders also
work on relief carving. The relief carving brings together all of their knowledge of
woodworking – using the tools properly, being patient, being aware at all times of the
grain of the wood and creating something of their own design.
While the lower school curriculum explores clay modeling more from a
feeling/sensing approach and follows the main-lesson block themes closely, the upper grades sculpting curriculum has a strong conceptual component. We will once more
delve into the four Kingdoms of Nature artistically, but bring more intellectual activity
into the process. Concepts of metamorphosis and polarities of form and in human consciousness will be
explored on different levels. Drawing exercises and conversations will be an integral part
of the process.