As a child, some of my most distinct memories are those that involved my hands. I remember learning how to sew clothes for dolls with my mother, wrap presents for my loved ones, and plant a garden with my father. I discovered my love of creating pottery and thought it was amazing that my hands were able to create something that someone else could use. As I’ve grown older, I have come into a greater appreciation of the gift God has given us as His “handiwork” in His creation of our hands. Ephesians 2:10 says, “ For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The Greek word used in this scripture for “handiwork” is “poema,” which is where the words “poem” and “poetry” are derived. It’s like we are God’s divine work of poetry! What better way to glorify God than to use the work of His hands through our hands to bless and serve others.
Charlotte Mason builds upon the gift of our hands through the concept of a handicraft. There is much to be learned in working with one’s hands to create something of use and beauty. Handicrafts that “employ the creative instinct to good purpose” have many benefits, including:
- Develop the habit of observation.
Handicrafts require us to carefully observe, coordinating the movements of their eyes and hands. The more opportunities like these we provide our children, the more these will become habits that will help them in the future.
- Appreciate and recognize beauty.
“It is no small part of education to have seen much beauty, to recognize it when we see it, and to keep ourselves humble in its presence.” Charlotte Mason, Ourselves (Volume 4). Carefully chosen handicrafts help cultivate the child’s sense of and appreciation for beauty.
- Understand the benefits of neatness.
Charlotte Mason said, “We want the children to be neat in mind as in body, to have clean-cut ideas and be capable of producing good work of all sorts; so we set them to fold paper, while their fingers are still tiny, and they will soon find how much better one clean fold is than a crumple (and simplicity than duplicity).” This can allow our children to experience the pleasure of exact movements and the triumph of success.
- Encourage the concept of power over material.
“Another elemental relationship, which every child should be taught and encouraged to set up, is that of power over material. Every child makes sandcastles, mud-pies, paper boats, and he or she should go on to work in clay, wood, brass, iron, leather, dress-stuffs, food-stuffs, furnishing-stuffs. He should be able to make with his hands and should take delight in making.” Charlotte Mason, School Education, p. 80.
- Create “relatable” learning opportunities.
We believe that education is a science of relations. It is not just about recognizing or knowing an idea, it’s also about when a child can make an “I can relate” connection. We can do that through handicrafts. When children experience the messiness of clay, the delicacy of a thread, the precision of a paper fold, we provide natural opportunities that touch imagination and emotions for forming personal relations with people and things.
- Ignite creativity.
Handicrafts can employ the creative instinct that God has given each of us as we, as Charlotte Mason says, “crave to be given a means of expression.”
- Benefit our neighbors.
God gave us the potential to use our hands as truly as our heads and we can do so for His glory. Practicing handicrafts empowers children by giving them opportunities to create lovely, useful objects. “So wonderful is the economy of the world that when a man really lives his life he benefits his neighbor as well as himself; we all thrive in the well-being of each.” Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education, p. 328.
Friday, October 1, students gathered for our first schoolwide Handicrafts Fair. A handicraft is a beautiful, useful object made by hand and with care. Each class learned a handicraft to share with one another, and with their extended families through our Grandparents Day video on YouTube.
Handicrafts Featured In our Handicraft Fair
- Kindergarten – Nature weaving
- First Grade – Mosaics
- Second Grade – Flower pounded tea towels
- Third Grade – Hand-stitched nature bookmarks
- Fourth Grade – Watercolor rose nature studies on notecards
- Fifth Grade – Corn husk dolls
- Sixth Grade – Paper Moravian stars
- Seventh Grade – Paper beads
- Eighth Grade – Paper Sloyd (box)