Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Handicrafts in Grades 4 through 6

The points to be borne in mind in children's handicrafts are: (a) that they should not be employed in making futilities such as pea and stick work, paper mats, and the like; (b) that they should be taught slowly and carefully what they are to do; (c) that slipshod work should not be allowed; (d) and that, therefore, the children's work should be kept well within their compass.
-Charlotte Mason, pages 315-316 of Home Education 

In Grades 4 through 6, some handicrafts in Charlotte Mason schools included:
-helping in the house
-helping in the garden
-making Christmas presents (Now, I think we could also include activities like packing a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child)
-providing entertainment at Christmastime for poor children (I interpret this as Christmas caroling at a convalescent home)
-providing a Christmas tree for poor children (Again, my interpretation: giving a tree to a family who can't afford one, making ornaments to decorate the tree)
-cardboard modeling
-decorative stitchery
-sewing an item of clothing to donate
-mending (weekly)
-clay modeling
-repousse (metalworking/embossing)
-dress a doll in the Tudor style
-scouting tests

Curious as to what scouting tests were, I found (in a book called Educational Foundations Vol. 3) information about "School Scouting."  

The handicrafts listed in EF were: chair caning, raffia work, carton, cardboard modeling, basket work, clay modeling, leather work, repousse, woodcarving, and bookbinding.

But there are lots of scouting tests, such those in the category of Housecraft.

To earn a Housecraft tassel, students had to pass at least 6 tests, one of which was:
Make - without referring to recipes - 1)porridge, 2)rice, 3)a milk pudding, 4)beef tea (which is beef broth), 5)something fried, 6)something baked.  

Some homeschoolers choose a single handicraft to explore for a 12-week term, but I think the Orthodox Masonite would look at what Mason asked her students to complete during a three month period, and note a variety of handicrafts.

One example of the projects to be completed in a three month term: 

-sewing a pinafore, 
-modeling 12 clay figures
-knitting a scarf or kettle holder (I'm not sure if this is a tea-cozy or a pot holder, but I'm assuming it's a potholder, since a potholder is a simpler project.)

Using this model, a different handicraft would be tried each month.  The pro about choosing to focus on a single handicraft for a term is that - with all of the other subjects in a Charlotte Mason education - it is much more manageable.  The pro about variety is just that: variety.

(In my public school 4th grade classroom, I tried to teach my students sewing this year.  I say tried because many of them lost their needles - along with several replacement needles - and some even lost their partially-completed drawstring bag projects! We sewed once a week, between math and lunch.  The drawstring bags took forever!  Months and months!  BUT a handful of students did finish.  Will I try this again next year? Maybe. If I do, will I do things differently? You betcha.  I'm thinking gallon Ziploc bags labeled with student names, collected at the end of each sewing session.  But I'm also thinking origami might be a whole lot easier.) 

One term, students in Charlotte Mason schools were assigned to 1)make a model of the camp of King Henry V before (the battle of) Agincourt.  Students were to sew linen tents and flags, and build clay models of soldiers and horses.  They were also supposed to 2)build clay city walls and dress a Joan of Arc doll in Armour, 3)complete 9 pages in a needlework manual, and 4)garden... So, can the Orthodox Masonite do unit projects?  It would seem the answer is yes.

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