Musings for Waldorf Third Grade/Fourth Grade

So, I am planning for homeschooling Waldorf Third Grade right now………

and I am glad I have started early.  There is a lot to figure out!

Many people talk about how Third Grade is the year of “doing” and how things in Fourth Grade really shift.  I actually see a bigger  shift occurring  in Fifth Grade, with the start of ancient history and such, with first through fourth leading up to this point in tracing human consciousness and evolution.  So,   I actually am planning Third and Fourth Grades together so they flow nicely.

This came about because I feel one has some decisions to make regarding Third and Fourth Grade:

1.  Do you want Third Grade to be the year of the Old Testament stories (Eugene Schwartz, Eric Fairman) or include Native American stories as well  (Melisa Nielsen, Donna Simmons)?

2.  Where will you put Native Americans? In with the Third Grade building block?  In with gardening in the Third Grade?  In with local geography in the Fourth Grade?

3.  Do you want to split the Old Testament Stories up between Third and Fourth Grade?  Donna Simmons makes an argument for that here:

4.  What about those Norse myths – do want a shorter block of those, several blocks throughout the year, do you want to do any part of The Kalevala?  The Norse myths are dark, good for a TEN-year-old, do you want to put them toward the end  of Fourth Grade depending upon your child’s birthday?

5.  In Fourth Grade, do you want to bring in US Geography along with local geography?  I have heard good things about the way Melisa Nielsen approaches local geography in her Fourth Grade curriculum guide, and I like how Donna Simmons lays out her approach to geography through the grades here:

According to “The Waldorf Curriculum Chart”  I have hanging on my wall, the following areas are typically covered in Third Grade:

  • History- Biblical stories as part of Ancient history and American Indian tales and fables.   History in the Fourth Grade includes  local history, why the early settlers chose your geographic location to live, how they developed the natural resources
  • You can see more about literature and skill development throughout the grades here:
  • Math – times tables, prime numbers, carrying and borrowing, problems in time and more goals are listed in other Waldorf math resource books (remember this is just a little chart with boxes!)
  • Housebuilding, farming, clothing are mentioned along with studies of the cycles of the year, soils, farm life, grains, vegetables and fruits, practical work in a garden, introducing colored pencils for writing (my daughter’s handwriting is exceptionally good so we probably are going to go with a fountain pen at this point), crochet work, forest walks and stories about trees and forests as an introduction to woodworking, beginning an instrument, lots of games and more!

Lots to think about!  Start now!



8 thoughts on “Musings for Waldorf Third Grade/Fourth Grade

  1. Hi Carrie, can you explain a bit about when you say
    ” Where will you put Native Americans? In with the Third Grade building block? In with gardening in the Third Grade? In with local geography in the Fourth Grade?”
    You’ve said things like this before- I kind of do everything related. So if I’m doing native american stories, they are part of cooking, geography, math etc. I just pick which time of year might be better for this or that. Is this what you mean, or are you actually more specific?
    Also, I was wondering if you have a reading list for the younger grades. Lyra is starting to move along and it’s hard to find books that hold her attention but are at her level. I’ve found riddles and poems, jokes helpful. She wants to read something that has purpose ( besides learning to read, of course).
    Also, we are holding on to the fairytales until she turns 8 in January— but we are passed the letters and things that normally go with first grade. I figured I should stick with the fairytales but approach them from a more 2nd grade style. Having her retell the story and copy in her lesson book and such.
    Do you have any suggestions?

    • Yes, everything is integrated because of the “How” we teach…but I am not convinced Native Americans are actually (should?) be in the Third Grade year — Steiner of course did not give indications for this as he was German and not American, but I sort of wonder if Native American Studies fit in more with local geography. Some folks use Native Americans as the “glue” for the doing in the Third Grade, but that could also come as farming/gardening/Jewish music. food, dancing and drama through the year as well…So, I think my thought is actually not to bring Native Americans in until we have gone through most of the OT and use it as a bridge between Third Grade and start with local geography and more Native Americans in the Fourth Grade..

      As far as reading lists, yep, they are here — if you peek on the comments for the Third Grade reading list, I left Jen from Ancient Hearth links to both the First and Second Grade Reading lists…It is well worth saying that many of those books can be pulled out again and again..I still love Mr. Popper’s Penguins in January myself! 🙂

      Many blessings, hope that helps??

  2. Thanks. I see what you are saying. I personally LOVE that you are a year ahead of me. Then I have a year of of soaking up what you say about the year your going through before I start official planning.
    will check the reading lists. thanks again.

  3. I guess I am unclear as to why you don’t feel Native Americans is necessary for third grade. From what I have seen/read (and I have no life experience as I am in the same place schooling as you), most home educators bring in Native American studies during their shelters block. It seems that the two go hand in hand. Isn’t it possible to sort of “brush” the surface with this and then go into more detail in 4th grade during local geography? I guess I am not clear as in how you would NOT cover Native Americans? Also, did I miss a post as to recommended reading for planning the third grade? I am going to be purchasing Donna Simmon’s curriculum, but I would love to be able to understand more clearly the why’s behind it all. Ah, my head is spinning…

    • Tanya – Yes, you can probably see what I responded to thought isto bring it in at the end with a dwelling block, but other people really do make a whole year out of it..I see more of a connection to local geography in fourth even more than in third grade, but people have done it all different ways…:) My thought was your thought, brush the surface with dwellings and put that at the end of the year to lead into local geography..great minds think alike, LOL.
      Yes the third grade reading lists is a few posts back…

  4. Hello Carrie,

    I know this is an old post – and though not really relevant to me – as my little one is still a Tiny not-yet-three year old – I did skim through it.
    Your line in the last paragraph caught my eye “my daughter’s handwriting is exceptionally good”.
    I’d love for my little girl to eventually have good handwriting as well.
    Both my husband and I have terrible ones.
    I’m wondering if you have any pointers for this? (Is it in any way connected to the Waldorf way of learning – painting before writing, and all the hand-work the child does?)
    Thank you!

    • Hello Divya,
      The foundation of good handwriting is a lot of movement in the early years – starting with creeping on hands and knees, being able to cross midline for activities, balance, core strength in the abdomen and back and then yes, moving into a progression for hand development including cutting and pasting, stringing beads and natural materials, finger knitting, etc. Then we move also into the way the letters are presented as pictorial imagery and as capitals, straight and strong and true and then lower case letters and finally cursive. Some schools start immediately with cursive, so that is a source of debate within the Waldorf School communities.
      Hope that helps,

    • That did help – and it makes a lot of sense, Carrie : developing and strengthening gross and fine motor skills should lead to good handwriting.
      Thank you for your reply.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.