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Beginning First Grade Handwork

The first few weeks of first grade are the most important time for building relationships and setting children up for success. Children in first grade are just learning how to BE in school. It’s a whole new world! In kindergarten, there was plenty of time for play and movement. Now they are being asked to sit in a chair and listen. This is a big transition, and it takes time. As the days and weeks go by children are learning to sustain their focus for longer and longer periods of time.


It is an exciting new time. It is the beginning of formal schooling. Just as children need time to integrate their new capacities, they need time to integrate into school. By starting off with simple one-day handwork projects we can gently welcome them in.


These simple projects provide invaluable time for building relationships with students, setting them up for success, and instilling a lifelong love for handwork! The first days of handwork are filled with wide eyes and wonder. The children are asking, “What is handwork?” Each day they learn something new and walk away with a feeling of “Yes! I can do it!” This is the feeling we want to instill at the beginning of first grade. And when it’s time for more challenging skills, like knitting or casting off, the children feel confident that they CAN learn to do it. This feeling instills a deep confidence that with practice, each child can learn to do anything. This is a lesson children will carry with them for a lifetime.


One-day projects help to build a sense of self-confidence and joy in handwork. They are intentionally very simple to ensure ALL children are set up for success. Each project can be brought with a story, a verse, or a song to engage the child’s imagination and feeling life. Each day the children get to take their handwork home and show their parents what they learned today.


These projects are also an opportunity to assess the class, observe fine motor skills, ability to focus, ability to follow simple instructions, and more. Each class is different. Through gentle, joyful projects and careful observation, we can see when they are ready for knitting. Depending on the group you may choose to do anywhere from 2 to 6 of these projects before moving on to shaping knitting needles and learning to knit.


Many schools have 40 or 45-minute periods for special subjects. This is a long time to sit and focus during the first few weeks of school. Depending on the group of children you are working with you may want to try these activities for only about 25 or 30 minutes and end the class with a movement activity, game, or a walk outside to explore the campus.


For a full list of one-day handwork projects for beginning first grade, complete with stories, verses, songs, and instructional videos, click the link below. https://www.waldorfhandwork.org/community-support-and-resources


And check out our Community Support and Resources page.


To learn more about teaching handwork, child development, and setting children up for success, join us online for our 2 year handwork teacher development program. Now accepting applications through October 15th, 2023. Courses begin in January 2024.










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