Handwork and Life Skills

“A man should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently and die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” -Robert Heinlein

The following are only suggestions. Life circumstances will play a huge role in what handwork and life skills your child learns and when they do it. We’ve found, however, without a list to tweak or just throw away, people tend to forget about handwork. For each grade, we suggest a kitchen skill, a home or outdoor skill, and a handwork skill that relates to what the students are learning that year. If you want more options, we suggest starting at DIY.org. You could just set a number of badges to be earned per term and let your student choose their passion.

We also want to remind you that some of this stuff can be dangerous. You can burn yourself cooking or playing with molten aluminum.  You can cut yourself, smash yourself, stick yourself, bonk or bump yourself. Make sure to take appropriate safety precautions!

Year 1

  • Knitting
  • Whittling
  • Kitchen basics
  • Make butter
  • Learn to swim

Year 2

  • Wet and needle felting wool
  • Hiking safety
  • Plant a garden
  • Learn about composting
  • Make candles
  • Fire safety

Year 3

  • Crochet
  • Card and spin wool
  • Dying cotton, silk, and wool fabric and yarn with natural dyes
  • Build a shelter/den in the woods/your backyard

Year 4

  • Hand sewing and needlework
    • Sew on a button
  • Knots
  • Braiding
  • Make your own rope and cordage

Year 5

  • Knit socks and mittens
    • learn how to darn socks
  • Carve a wooden spoon
  • Use a compass for basic navigation
  • Preserving food
    • Canning, drying, etc.


Year 6

  • Sewing with a Machine
    • Learn about the mechanics of the machine
      • In sewing machines, cams make fancy stitches, but you might be more familiar with them as part of the camshaft in your car.
    • Sewing classes are offered at sewing and quilting stores like Joann’s or online at places like Craftsy. Youtube also has some good videos on sewing.
    • Consider earning the Clothing Maker badge at DIY.org
    • Make a quilt
  • Leatherwork
    • Try sewing leather
  • Build a shelter or den
  • Learn about finances

Year 7

  • Earn your first aid and CPR certifications.
    • You can take classes through the Red Cross, the YMCA, and often other organizations such as community centers offer these classes as well.
    • Consider taking infant first aid and CPR as well
  • Weaving and Basket Making
  • Computer Hardware
    • Build your own Computer
    • Try out Raspberry Pi or Arduino
    • Set up and secure a wireless router
    • Learn to solder
  • Baking
    • Make the perfect pie
    • Decorate a cake

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Year 12

  • Run a large holiday dinner
    • This is the culmination of all the cooking, planning, and etiquette skills the student has learned over the years. Let them plan the menu, figure out what order to cook things, set a beautiful table, marshal sous chefs, carve a turkey, and be a gracious host.
  • Car Maintenance Basics
    • Basics
      • Change a tire
      • Check tire pressure
      • Add wiper fluid
      • Check engine coolant
    • If you want to move beyond basics
      • Replace fuel filter
      • Replace air filter
      • Replace spark plugs and wires
    • Need some how to videos? Try AutoMD.
    • Want a more general introduction to machines? Try the Mechanics Badge at DIY.org.
  • Metal Working
    • Make Chainmail or other armor
    • Make a mini-forge and play with molten aluminum
    • We suggest finding a local class for any or all of the below:
      • Welding
      • Blacksmithing
      • Silver soldering for Jeweley

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