Practical Arts


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.