These blocks are the hallmark and mainstay of the fifth grade experience for Waldorf students. They are fun blocks and there are many things you could do with these stories and with Greek history ( if you choose to include Greek history and not push it off until sixth grade).
These blocks go through the mythology of Ancient India, Ancient Persia, Ancient Babylon, Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece and then possibly move into early Greek history. The Christopherus curriculum has a wonderful block on Ancient China; Live Education includes this in eighth grade.
The resources we used included:
Ancient Mythologies by Charles Kovacs
Chapters From Ancient History in biographic vein by Dorothy Harrer
Ancient Greece by Charles Kovacs
Greek Myths by D’Aularies
The Christopherus book Ancient Mythology India, Persia, Babylon and Egypt
The Christopherus Fifth Grade Curriculum for Greek Mythology and History
Gilgamesh the Hero by Geraldine McCaughrean
Live Education’s fifth grade ancient mythologies books
Recommended reader for Ancient Egypt by Christopherus Curriculum: The Golden Goblet
Tales of Ancient Egypt ( I would not recommend really)
Voices of Ancient Egypt by Kay Winters
The Librarian Who Measured the Earth by Kathryn Latsky
Famous Men of Greece
Alexander the Great by John Gunther
We started talking about time since these blocks cover huge timespans. The Christopherus syllabus and Live Education as well has suggestions as to how to approach this with the eleven-year-old. I have heard in some Waldorf Schools the children begin with Ancient Egypt, but we started in Ancient India with the stories of Brahma, Manu and the Flood, the caste system, the Mahabharata, and the story of Rama and Sita. Some schools include Buddha here, but I didn’t feel the stories about Buddha really fit here. The Christopherus syllabus puts stories of the Buddha in a Language Arts lesson, but we mainly just read the story from Charles Kovacs aloud. We did lots of painting, drawing, modeling, drama with a play version of Rama and Sita and freehand map making during this section on Ancient India.
Next we went into Persia and covered the story of Ahura Mazda and Ahriman, and Zarathustra and the Kingdom of Light. In this section of the block, we mainly did drawing. We moved into Ancient Babylon with Gilgamesh the Hero. This book is not to be missed, and was probably the highlight of our entire block in many ways, although the tales of Ancient India were also greatly enjoyed. I would recommend using the part of Dorothy Harrer’s book about Mesopotamia to talk about the people whose King was Gilgamesh and the part about the Christmas Star.
One thing we worked on in this block is drawing with proportion. This is a bit premature for fifth grade, but my fifth grader really wanted her Gilgamesh picture to look like a strong hero. I put light pencil dots for the width of the shoulders and then my fifth grader freehand drew the rest of it. Here is Gilgamesh and Ishtar:
Then we moved into Ancient Egypt. We visited a local college museum to look at the largest ancient art collection in the entire southeastern United States. The stories of Egypt didn’t really excite us, although we spent a good deal of time on the land of Egypt itself, the river Nile, the people of Egypt and how the Egyptians viewed life and death.
I will talk about our look into Greek mythology and history in another post.