Grades 3 - 4 overview
Grades 3-4: I Am a Unique But Interdependent Part of Earth's Human Community
Each 2 year learning cycle in the Waldorf curriculum has an underlying theme that supports learners' developing consciousness and cognitive capacities.
The gradual separation of a child from the unity of the universe around her comes to completion in third grade. At some point during this two year cycle, children will enter a developmental phase referred to by Waldorf teachers as the “nine year change.” With an emergent sense of separateness comes self-awareness and recognition of being different from others. The reassuring order and harmony of the world that they previously relied upon is now questionable, including the authority of the important adults in their lives.
Thematic lessons begin with an exploration of the practical aspects of life on earth: the cultivation of food, the building of shelters, and the creation of garments. Norse myths depict the creation of the world out of fire and ice, and students enjoy the grandeur of characters that inhabit this world: gods and giants, dwarfs and humans. They see Loki, Thor and others march unmistakably, step by step, toward their doom. As one world is destroyed, another reassuringly emerges.
Self confidence is reborn through the mastery of practical challenges and more complex conceptual learning. 3/4 mathematics studies serve practical needs with the study of measurements (time and distance) and money, while continuing practice in the four operations on ever-larger numbers. Students are then introduced to fractions, where everything is split into ever-smaller pieces. Science studies become more focused and objective, with studies of the animal kingdom, and observation of animal forms and attributes as they view them in relation to human form and function. They will choose a particular animal to study as part of a first research project.
Practical work and an interest in life on earth provide them with new focus, another way to feel connected to an orderly world. Mythologies illustrate the dissolution and disorder they may feel, while demonstrating that the cycles of civilization and life on Earth are a continuum, and the Earth and her living community are always reborn anew. Students experience themselves as 'new humans' that are learning to fully inhabit a dawning world.
Language arts, arithmetic, science, history, geography, and mythology are interwoven through the thematic lesson. Mathematics may also be presented in a more focused, 30-40 minute 'extra lesson' period.
Shelter & Clothing
Agriculture & Farming
History of Indigenous Peoples
Local Geography & History
Grammar & Sentence Structure
Complex Arithmetic, Carrying & Borrowing
Animal arts & Nature Immersion
Each morning before the thematic lesson period begins, and during Animal Arts class, children participate in farm animal care with feeding, grooming, communication & connection. During morning or afternoon recess, and also during many enrichment classes, children play, hike and explore our forests, creeks, fields, orchards and farm.
FIne & Practical Arts & handicrafts
Handicrafts: embroidery and cross-stitch, basic sewing/stitching, working with clay, wood carving, building a scale model of a dwelling
Fine Arts: Watercolor painting, block and stick crayon drawing, introduction of colored pencil drawing techniques
Games: Outdoor games, team sports
Music: Singing, recorder
Movement: Rhythmic Movement, Eurythmy
Theater & Performance: Learners present an end of year play, drawn from fables, or mythology
Imaginative & free play
Unstructured, free play is so often undervalued in our current educational culture, even when multiple studies and direct experience tell us that childrens' imaginative capacities, empathic intelligence and development of self-regularity skills depend on it. Our daily rhythm includes ample, unstructured time for free play, and our environment provides a pristine natural canvas for imagination to guide the childrens' playtime.
Our daily rhythm & schedule
9:15- Arrival, contemplative walk, tending the animals, garden, spring
9:30- Morning circle begins-listening, songs, sharing, movement, eurhythmy
9:45- Thematic lesson begins
11:15- Snack & recess
11:45- Math practice, extra lesson, finish main lesson work
12:45- Lunch & recess
1:45- Specialty classes (handwork, music, animal arts, or games)
2:45- Closing circle/cleanup
3:15- Pick up/van departure