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Form Drawing in Grade Four

Now that we reach fourth grade in this progression from first grade, we find that the wholeness has separated into parts. The fraction is an archetype for fourth grade.  The teacher leads the child to experience the fraction and return it to the whole. Just so, woven forms provide the same journey. Woven forms are perhaps the most recognizable elements of Waldorf form drawings, though the woven form has been an artistic theme in various cultures for millennia.

Fourth grade forms

With the woven form, we take the line and fold it back onto itself, perhaps even with multiple lines. We create a beautifully ordered knot. We weave a fabric. To render this in a drawing requires us to fragment the whole line into many different line segments so that we give the impression that the line has indeed woven itself over and under, over and under. We take the one line and divide into many fractions, but we arrange those fractions so that there is a new one-ness realized. Whether these woven forms are arranged in circular, triangular, or rectangular fashions, there is almost always an inherent geometric foundation evident in the whole.

Form drawing in grade four.JPG

Likewise, we can also take basic geometric shapes and explore an ordered division of their spaces so that we create equivalent fractions that are both beautiful and true. Each of these free-hand form drawing activities bring us ever closer to an experience of pure geometry. It is important to allow the student to struggle with the realization of these forms with the freehand approach first. Allowing the child to struggle with crawling, standing, and walking builds valuable will-forces that serve the human being throughout life. So too the struggle with geometric forms is a valuable learning experience that builds powerful inner faculties.

Rudolf Steiner urged the first Waldorf teachers to awaken “what will become geometry later—but first, one should keep it all in the realm of freehand drawing.” (Lecture 10, Practical Advise to Teachers).

The drawings and activities of these fourth grade form drawings have their own intrinsic value and can fill a lifetime of exploration in and of themselves. However, as a step on the curricular path, they are also leading toward the fifth grade year of freehand geometric drawing.


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Form Drawing in Grade Three


Third grade is very often a time of tremendous change for children and thus it can require that we make tremendous changes in how we meet them.

There is perhaps no more archetypal image that can help us understand the third grade child than that of any creation mythology in which the human being, once united with the Creator, now finds himself separated, forlorn, and bereft. The developing consciousness of the 8-9 year-old begins to have a sense of separateness. There is now an awakening sense of an inner world. The signature of one-ness that holds and sustains the young child is lost. It is a dramatic and necessary step toward individuation. So, the third grade elements of form drawing incorporate this experience.


Forms in third grade

Now we work with forms that explore relationships and change. We bring about forms that challenge us to explore and create new harmonies. This is an exciting time because the forms that we set up for the child can be balanced in many different ways. There is not a “perfectly correct” answer. The “rightness” must be felt by the child and by the teacher.

Form drawing in grade three (teacher training notes)

Form drawing in grade three (teacher training notes)

Learning to live as an individual on the earth is a constant exercise of attempting to find harmony in new ways as new elements arise in our lives. So, the teacher can be as creative in providing new “quests” for the student and then remain open to the practically infinite possibilities that the child has for discovery of corresponding forms. This has a mutually-inspirational quality that provides a lift to the child who struggles with this new sense of the bigness of the outer world and the isolation of the inner world.

“They should be given sufficient space to engage in the process in an exploratory manner. If this is achieved, a rich opportunity for differentiation and mutual inspiration is created.”
Peter Giesen, Form Drawing Workbook


Enjoy this quick peek inside a lesson from our Grade One Form Drawing course!

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Form Drawing in Grade Two

(Read an introduction to this topic, as well as Rev’s piece Form Drawing in Grade One, here.)

While we continue many of the same kinds of forms explored in first grade, we begin a new impulse in second grade. The second grader begins to experience a vague sense of duality or polarity in the world. For this reason, the second grade stories told in Waldorf schools will revolve around the tales of human virtue, such as those of the saintly beings from various traditions, as well as the tales of lower nature, such as those found in Aesop’s Fables.

The child is only dimly awakening to these same qualities in the world and within herself. So the stories provide an imaginative realm of soul in which such themes may be explored. Likewise, there are movements and forms that can provide a similar exploration and arena for discovery. It is important to note that the Waldorf teacher will not end a fable by explicitly recounting some abstracted moral. It is important to allow the child to “digest” such lessons herself.

Vertical symmetry in grade two form drawing.

Vertical symmetry in grade two form drawing.

With the movements and forms, we would also not muddy the child’s experience with some intellectual explanation of its value. We simply bring the movements and forms for the child for her experience. We trust the profound wisdom at work in the cosmos and in every human being. We do not need to explain this “soul digestion” any more than we need to explain our physical digestion in order for it to happen after a meal. We simply bring them new movements and forms that provide an even more direct experience of the above and below, the right and the left, and the cross-lateral.

Rudolf Kutzli, in his book Creative Form Drawing, reminds us that this inherent power
of Waldorf form drawing “leads to an activating process of unfolding creative forces that lie dormant in every human being. It speaks to the inner rhythms that bring harmony to the forming and dissolving, the challenging and quietening, the cosmic and earthly in the human being. It thereby strengthens the very center, the ‘I’ between the constant threat of tendencies toward sclerotic thought, barrenness of soul, and the aimlessness or apathy in the whole sphere of the will.”


Enjoy this quick peek inside one of the Grade One lessons!

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Learn more about our new Form Drawing series for homeschooling families and class teachers.

Grade One is OPEN!


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Form Drawing in Grade One

An introduction to Waldorf Form Drawing

Movement is the way in which we explore the cosmos and ourselves within it. The very act of breathing is movement. Movement is one of the most primary activities of nature and of the human being. As such, movement is at the very foundation of all learning and development.

When we engage in archetypal, healthy movements, we revitalize and harmonize our physical bodies, we strengthen and balance our life forces, and we lift our consciousness. Form drawing is the process of exploring such healthy, archetypal movements in the cosmos and bringing them into ourselves, rendering them into lines.

The forms themselves, as finished works, may become beautiful, but they are not nearly as important as the processes through which we explore and embody the movements. Form drawings, as finished pieces, are merely the footprints left in a medium such as pencil on paper, evidence of the wonderful movements of the human being and the cosmos. Form drawing, as a practice, can be an essential path of human development.

Form Drawing in grade one.JPEG

“It is not easy to see the educational value of form drawing by looking at the children’s drawings; for its effectiveness is realized in the process, not the product...Form drawing is a present record of a past movement...just as the meander of a dried up water-course records the flow of a river.”
Rosemary Gebert, “Form Drawing”


Form Drawing in Grade One

In first grade, we strive to bring the child into a balanced relationship with inner and outer space. This is achieved by highlighting very basic elements of movement/space. The child needs a basic introduction to the simple but profound truth that there are really only two kinds of movements and/or lines, the straight and the curved.

We can apply these movements in a horizontal plane, a vertical plane, or on a diagonal. Likewise, many movements and/or lines can be a harmonious blend of straight and curved elements. With only these basic elements, we have more then enough possibilities to work with fundamental and profound forms for the rest of our lives. Though they are basic, these elements help us to develop a healthy relationship to the world around us and to begin to feel the world within us. In this early stage of exploring forms, it is always first to be experienced through the grand movements of our limbs and then, only later, in the actual drawing.

“To develop a feeling for form, the hands must be brought to feel the form; we need to see with our hands. We need to describe the feeling of the movement. We need to work through a form until it is incorporated into us.”
Embry-Stine and Schuberth, Form Drawing

Next week we’ll share more from Rev about Form Drawing, this time through the lens of Grade Two. We’ll also share another video clip from inside one of the Grade One lessons!


Waldorf Form Drawing - G1.jpg

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