The hands are the primary instrument with which growing children experience the world. Handwork is an integral part of the Waldorf Curriculum as is plays such an important function in establishing and activating pathways in the brain, in developing the will of the child and in fostering self-esteem and an appreciation of beauty.
In first grade knitting is the primary activity as it uses both hands equally to create the left-right brain connection, it requires crossing the mid-line and it moves from left to right in a continuous stream that emulates reading.
Crocheting is introduced in second grade. Small projects demonstrate that handwork products can be useful as well as beautiful.
The fundamental tools students use for wood carving in the upper grades are handsaws, chisels, gouges, rasps, files, and sandpaper. With these tools, they learn to shape, smooth, and polish wood. The underlying goal is to teach the students patience, perseverance, and pride in their work.