Planning Waldorf Second Grade

There are several things to keep in mind whilst planning second grade for a seven and a half or eight-year old: one is what academic and practical skills one will be teaching, and the other is through what vehicle one will be teaching through.  The “vehicle” in second grade is the stories of Saints contrasted with the trickster tales of the animals, perhaps Celtic fairy tales or the wonderful King of Ireland’s Son, nature stories for Science, a few gnome or other types of stories for math.  The way you “drive” this vehicle is through art, movement, rhythm, in-breath and out-breath. 

There can be a wide disparity where second graders are academically.  I have a very fluent reader who can read anything she would like, (including things I have to hide because I feel the themes are just too mature at this time as they involve great sympathy with a main protagonist!).  Remember, we are still working within fairy tales to a certain extent, and moving into fables and folklore as our main thrust this year due to the spiritual and soul development of the eight year old.  For my second grader, we will continue to introduce some simple grammar and punctuation, writing longer summaries and paragraphs, higher level vocabulary.  Another child may still be working on reading what they have written and more simple phrases. 

For math, one is most likely working with a  deepening understanding of the times tables  as taught rhythmically and by heart, mental arithmetic,  place value, simple money sums, development of symmetric form drawing, translating large numbers into words and vice versa, moving from the horizontal kinds of math problems to the vertical.

For science, one is looking at more pointed nature tales with characteristics of the animals.  I personally am also looking at bringing a Spring block of the 4 elements with lots of play and building of projects (again, may not completely coincide with the Waldorf curriculum at a Waldorf school). 

For social studies, one is still looking at  local geography through actually being outside and using the 12 sense to observe local flora, fauna and weather,  and through the tales of local folklore, including local American Indian stories.  For example,  I live in an area where the Cherokee used to live, and we will be doing a block of Cherokee Trickster Tales.

Other activities that may round out your curriculum may include continuing with a pentatonic instrument or learning a pentatonic scale on a blowing instrument, kinderlyre instruction, knitting with knit stitch and purling, introducing three secondary colors with wet-on-wet painting, modeling with beeswax, games including jump rope, hop scotch, rhythmic games, seasonal festival preparation and arts and crafts and cooking and baking.

Once you decide what academic or practical skills one is teaching, then one must decide HOW to bring this.  Will you use Fables as a Nature Block, or a Language Arts block?  Will you use Trickster Tales as a way to pick forms out of the stories for Form Drawing or will you use Nature Stories?  These are the questions that make the curriculum come alive for you and your family.

Here is an outline of what I am planning as I write my own curriculum, and this is not set in stone as I have only written September and October so far!!  I do try to plan each day around Head, Heart and Hands and also to find the ACTIVE part in all the lessons.  Very important!

(Totals are around  8 weeks of Form Drawing plus weekly Form Drawing some blocks, 14 weeks of Math, 9-10 weeks of Nature, 13 weeks of Language Arts which may very well not be enough for some children if this is a weaker area.  Eugene Schwartz has his second grade divided between 16 weeks of Math and 16 weeks of Language Arts, 6 weeks of Form Drawing and doesn’t include Nature/Science in the tally.)

September:  2 weeks of Form Drawing from Cherokee Trickster Tales and 2 weeks of Math (review Roman Numerals, moving from horizontal to vertical, review of 2s, 5s, 10s multiplication tables).  Family play for Michaelmas

Other work:  Wet on wet painting of geometric forms, Introduction to Kinderlyre, German and Spanish, Seasonal Arts and Crafts, gardening, cooking and baking

October:  4 weeks of a Nature/Language Arts  Block with writing in Main Lesson Book  from the Fables, work on simple grammar and punctuation and a bit longer summaries, will also wet on wet watercolor paint and model with beeswax as part of this block, pentatonic flute and singing, Seasonal Arts and Crafts, more gardening, cooking and baking, knit stitch to make hat, German and Spanish

November:  4 weeks of a Math Block, more Kinderlyre and  knitting, German and Spanish, cooking and baking and gardening (terrarium making!), weekly Form Drawing

December: 2 –3 weeks of a  Nature Block/Language Arts Block   from Saint Francis of Assisi, Advent Crafts, cooking and baking and such, German and Spanish.  Family Play for Advent. 

January:   end of December – January 2 weeks of Form Drawing,  4 weeks of Math Block, Kinderlyre and Sewing,  cooking and baking, German and Spanish, preparation for Candlemas, weekly Form Drawing

February:  3 weeks of a Language Arts block from Saints, Pentatonic flute and singing and more hand sewing,  cooking and baking, German and Spanish

March:  3 weeks of a Nature Block from the 4 Elements, probably no Main Lesson Book, will include nature games,    German and Spanish, cooking and baking, gardening, Easter Crafts, weekly Form Drawing

April:  4  weeks of Form Drawing from Jataka Tales, wet on wet watercolor painting, Knitting , Woodworking  and Gardening, German and Spanish,  cooking and baking

May:  4 weeks of Math, Pentatonic flute and singing, Gardening, cooking and baking, seasonal crafts for May Day, Whitsun, Ascension, German and Spanish.

June:  3 weeks of Language Arts from Saint Stories where cursive may be introduced ?? (still deciding!), Wet on Wet Watercolor Painting and Gardening, German and Spanish, cooking and baking, weekly Form Drawing, festival preparations for St. John’s Day.

As I have said, I have not written all of it yet, so I don’t  know everything yet!  It is just a skeleton work in progress!

Some resources that may assist you:

Grade 2 Curriculum Package from Donna Simmons:

Grade 2 from Melisa Nielsen:

Eugene Schwartz Grade 2:

Saints and Heroes from Donna Simmons:

Grade 2 Math from Donna Simmons:

Animal Tales from Donna Simmons:

Teaching Mathematics in Rudolf Steiner Schools for Classes I- VIII by Ron Jarman

Hear The Voice of the Griot!  A Guide to African Geography, History, and Culture by Betty K Staley (Trickster Tales, Saint Stories, longer fairy tales for Grade 2)

Stories of the Saints – Siegwart Knijpenga

Teaching with the Fables: A Holistic Approach by Sieglinde de Francesca

Read-aloud List here

Various festival books and book regarding tongue twisters and riddles to “warm-up

Books of Games, singing games are especially nice

Gardening and Baking Resources

Norwegian, Jewish, African  and Swedish folktales and such – I am telling a tale for about three days in a row before Quiet Time throughout the year.

Sources of Nature, fables, King of Ireland’s Son if you are bringing that book as a block.

After you know how your blocks are laid out, you  can start going through and picking what stories and activities resonate in your soul, what you feel your child needs to hear and you fit it into a three-day rhythm of telling the story on the first day, artistic activity, and the academic piece on the third day.  You are always searching for the active, and adding in the artistic, the senses, the different ways to approach this.

For example, should you choose to use the fable “The Lion and the Mouse,” you may start the first day with a story of mice that incorporates their general characteristics and the modeling of a mouse out of beeswax and tell the story (Do NOT tell the moral to the child – that is for them to draw the conclusion!).  Flesh out the short fable so it is a real story with detail.  The second day you may re-visit the story and make a beeswax lion to go with the mouse.  Perhaps you act out the story with your child (only two characters, lends itself nicely to drama in a homeschooling environment!)  Perhaps you found a short poem about a mouse or a lion to share.  Then, the third day you can  re-visit the story with movement (how would the lion move and sit?  how would the mouse move?  what do their voices sound like?), draw a picture and have your child re-visit the story with you writing down what the child says and then distill this into two or three sentences on the blackboard for your child to copy.  Perhaps you play some rhyming games with the words, point out punctuation, look for doing words if you decided to bring the different types of words to second grade (or not!  perhaps you wait on that until Third Grade).  Much of this depends on what speaks to you as a family and to your child.  You are the parent, and you are the expert on your child and what they need to hear!

I am just a homeschooling mother like you, and planning just like you.  I suggest if you are very confused you contact one of the national Waldorf consultants (Barbara Dewey, Donna Simmons, Melisa Nielsen, David Darcy, Eugene Schwartz) to help you.  The little bit of money for a half hour consultation may save you so much money in curriculum spending and in  time.

Happy Planning,


15 thoughts on “Planning Waldorf Second Grade

  1. This was an in incredibly helpful post. Thank you! I am wondering how you use stories, such as Fables/Tricksters, etc. to teach form drawing and nature/science? I let a lot of this slide last year for first grade since I didn’t have a good feel for it.

    • Hi Jennifer, I essentially go through my form drawing books and look at what forms are appropriate for the grade and then see if when I read the story and go over it in my head can I connect the form to anything going on in the story? I find this works well for running forms and some of the beginning forms. Spirals and forms leading up to spirals, to me, didn’t really need much of a story….I am sure a true Waldorf teacher would have an opinion on this! LOL! You may want to try Eugene Schwartz and his second grade pictures from his website. He is a great believer in form drawing! Don’t know if that helps at all, let me know!

    • Hi Liz,
      We are so spoiled, we have a 25 year old Saturday morning German school in our area, and I have a dear friend who is a Native speaker come and do a lot of oral poems, verses, songs, crafts, holiday celebrations..Now in Second we are getting into grammar and writing…In Waldorf we really try to approach the language through the songs, verses, immersion…
      Do you have any native speakers in your area??

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  5. Thank you for bringing waldorf education in such a rich manner.
    We would like to bring a very helpful resource book to your attention.
    Nettie Fabrie and myself wrote a math book for the grades 1-5. The book has for every grade ideas for every block.
    ISBN: 978-1-892857-24-8
    Publisher: Whole Spirit Press

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  7. Hi Carrie,
    Yay! I’m getting some planning done now! Thank you as always for your posts on planning!!!!

    I feel as if I have a good sense for the vehicles for most of my blocks- all but math! I have written out my goals for 2nd grade math but I’m stumbling with the “vehicle” piece. I was thinking nature stories but I suppose it all feels very simplistic or a bit of a stretch…I see how the fables, saints and other legends I will use for nature studies, form or LA fit into the “material” but for the math I’m just finding it disjointed unless it is SO connected like in w/ the gnomes, which we did do for 1st grade. I want to keep it meaningful and fully embrace the cross-curriuclar nature of this teaching, but I wonder how much story vehicle (s) I should employ with mathematics this coming year AND is it a container story of sorts for A block or a new story for each day…
    I really hope this makes sense! I’ve been at a dead end with this one for a few days now.
    Thank you!! Sheila

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  9. Hi there I have to sub for a 1st/2nd grade class tomorrow and I’m trying to figure out a fun activity for the day a story something I can bust out … I’ll be subbing the following week one day as well so it could be a two day project … any ideas for this …

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