The entire first grade curriculum is presented in a way that will appeal to the child's sense of wonder and imagination. Children will study arithmetic and roman numerals in math, letters and fairy tales in language arts, nature studies in science and ancient legends in social studies. In language arts, first graders are introduced to each letter of the alphabet through the rich language of fairy tales and stories. Words and word families are then built from the letters so that the children are writing, and then reading, with vocabulary far beyond what is printed in the children's usual readers.
The first grader will explore the qualities of numbers in mathematics, as well as the mathematical processes of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. In a similar fashion, science is approached through nature stories and observations, gardening and cooking. The children also begin their study of German and Spanish through songs, poems and games.
A musical time reigns throughout first grade. The children sing during many subjects, and they begin playing recorder in daily main lesson activities. Watercolor, eurythmy (movement), knitting, drawing and beeswax modeling are also offered in the first grade Waldorf curriculum.
In second grade, all basic academic skills continue to develop at a rapid pace. Writing and reading skills become more independent, and the children are excited at their ability to use these skills. Mathematics lessons include the sequence and patterns in numbers, continued work with the processes and the introduction of place value as an antecedent to carrying and borrowing. Laying the ground for future science blocks, the students will continue their experiential exploration of the world of nature through observation, stories, gardening and cooking.
In their language arts and history studies, the second graders will explore traditional fables, grammar, punctuation, handwriting and cursive. The students will continue to study German and Spanish through poems, stories and acting out short dramas. Likewise, all students will continue watercolor painting and their exploration of the moods of the colors; beeswax modeling, crayon drawing, and form drawing, for the element of form; and crocheting and knitting, in practical arts.
Musical instruction continues in similar fashion to the first grade and includes singing as well as playing the pentatonic recorder. Physical education and eurythmy provide ample time and opportunity for the students to enjoy movement.
The curriculum for the third grade is crafted to help the children stand confident and enthusiastic in their academic and artistic abilities. In language arts, students will be introduced to the parts of speech in grammar, as well as spelling and cursive writing to facilitate their own independent writing skills.
Students learn valuable lessons through the themes of creation stories, house building and farming. This practical side of the third grade curriculum gives children a broader view of the world around them. For example, the farming block teaches children where our food comes from and instills a responsibility in the students to care for the environment. Children will study different human shelters from world cultures, and the Native American study is especially interesting for students at this age.
The study of measurement in mathematics and science allows the children to discover how human beings orient themselves on the earth. The children will learn about the earliest attempts to mark the passage of time by watching the cycles of nature to the later inventions of the water clock and sundial, which they construct as a class. How distance is related to the measurements in the human body (e.g., the human foot being "a foot") is a fascinating discovery for each student. Further topics in mathematics include carrying and borrowing, number patterns, long division and natural geometry.
Third grade students will continue their foreign language studies. In music, the children will begin singing in rounds and will learn to play the violin as well as the soprano recorder. In fine and practical arts, the children will continue painting, crayon drawing, clay modeling, knitting and crocheting. Games and eurythmy are further explored in the physical education curriculum.
In the fourth grade, the children have finally left early childhood behind. The teacher increasingly experiences the children as emerging individuals with strong personalities and distinctive gifts and talents, as well as challenges. The Waldorf curriculum meets the fourth grade child's development by bringing forth the Norse myth stories. Students enjoy studying the themes of courage, compassion, sacrifice, good and mischief embodied by the characters in these stories.
Fourth grade marks the start of studying geography. Students study local geography by learning to make maps of their classroom, school and neighborhood as well as discovering the directions of north, south, east and west.
The students also have the opportunity to discover the wondrous versatility of the human being in the zoology block called Man and Animal. Here the children study the specialized skills and habits of the animals and relate them to the uniqueness of the human being.
In mathematics, the study of fractions enters into the curriculum. Concrete experiences of making and cutting up pizzas and pies, and anything else the teacher can find to break into parts, becomes the basis for the abstract experience of adding, subtracting, multiplying, reducing and expanding fractions.
The students’ work in foreign languages now includes simple reading, grammar, and written work. The fine and practical arts include clay modeling, geometric figures, form drawing, watercolor painting and cross-stitch embroidery. Music classes continue with singing canons, rounds and harmonies. Instrumentally, the children continue recorder playing and violin in a group, both of which now require reading from notation. Physical education continues with eurythmy and gymnastics.
In fifth grade, children begin their formal studies of history and geography as core subjects. The study of ancient history begins in ancient India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece. Students study the creation of written languages, read translations of ancient poetry, study hieroglyphics, recreate the building of temples and pyramids as models, and incorporate ancient art into their own artistic work. Grammar lessons are incorporated into these themes and verb tenses are introduced in compositions.
By contrast, the children will study American geography and economic relationships among people living in various regions. A natural extension of geography is botany, the study of plant life. The students learn about the relationship of the plants to the earth and sun and how they change in the course of the year.
In the mathematics blocks, the students will review fractions and learn about fractional equivalents, mixed numbers, reciprocals and improper fractions. They will begin the study of decimals and decimal place. In addition, the children will now be able to begin free-hand geometric drawing.
In the foreign language program, the children hold short dialogs and give short talks, which include descriptive language. The students may study a Sanskrit poem and learn to speak and write Greek phrases.
The fine and practical arts program will include clay modeling, carving, knitting socks, drawing geometric forms and watercolor painting. Physical education will include eurythmy as well as participation in a pentathlon. In music, the children now choose an instrument to play in the upper grade orchestra, in addition to playing recorder and singing.