The practical arts support the Waldorf curriculum with craft activities that strengthen the artistic, academic, social, and neuromotor development of each child. Practical arts brings a balance to the students' concentration on "head work" in the morning lesson—not only in the physical sense, but also by providing a practical application for intellectual concepts such as mathematics, geometry, and form drawing. In addition, manipulating tools, achieving accuracy, and completing their projects help children to develop their will. The goal of the practical arts program is to help children become clear, imaginative thinkers who can take on any work with creativity.
Handwork is taught by teachers who come into the classroom twice a week from grades one through eight. The handwork teacher encourages the children to produce original designs that are colorful and creative in form, things that are not only useful, but beautiful.
As they learn the practical skills of knitting, crocheting, sewing, and felting, students also learn to respect and care for their tools and for the natural resources (the cotton and wool) they are using. The students knit in first and second grade, learning through stories, verses, and song. The children make their own tools (wooden knitting needles) and spend their time creating rhythmic stitches with a continuous yarn, gradually taking up new skills as their work matures. In third grade they learn to crochet, working with ideas of early geometry and more conscious color relationships.
Fourth grade students work in cross-stitch and embroidery as they are ready for increased fine-motor activity and awareness to detail. In fifth grade, the students return to knitting, though they work in the round with a more complicated system of needles and sequence of pattern by making a pair of socks or mittens to fit themselves or as a gift for another.
The sixth and seventh grade students hand sew dolls and doll clothing, and construct animals from handmade patterns, working through more detailed observation and the fine-tuning of stitches. Tremendous concentration and use of math skills are necessary to shape and turn the heel of a sock or add the thumb of a mitten. This relationship to math is strengthened in sixth and seventh grade with geometric applications, such as making dolls that copy the human form.
Finally, as the eighth grade students enter the Industrial Revolution in their studies, they learn to use the electric sewing machine along with the use of patterns and written instructions, making useful projects for others as well as themselves.