I have written quite a few posts about Waldorf homeschooling in third grade. Each time I teach third grade, it varies depending upon the child. With our first child, it was more of a year centered around the Old Testament stories. With our second child, we centered our year more around Native American studies and farming. Whatever you decide as you observe where your child is and what direction within third grade to focus on, I wanted to share some of our favorite resources from over the years.
Farming and Gardening –
Visit pick your own farms and have canning and preserving of foods in your own kitchen (math and farming!)
Visit a biodynamic farm if you can
Attend sheep shearing sessions, county fairs and the like
Marsha Johnson’s Farmer Boy Math Block available for free on her yahoo group is marvelous (math and farming!)
“Gardening for Life” by Maria Thun is a great adult read for you to prepare for this block, along with Steiner’s Agricultural Course and the Bees lectures. Those lectures are available for free on-line.
“Farmer Boy” by Laura Ingalls Wilder (farming and American history)
“Smiling Hill Farm” (Farming and American history) children seem to enjoy it, I found it a bit confusing towards the end
One of my friends enjoyed the biography of John Deere with her son
“Our Farm: Four Seasons with Five Kids on One Family’s Farm” by Michael Rosen (could be used for so many things – “social studies”, American farming life, math)
Roy Wilkinson’s little booklet “Teaching Practical Activities” (waldorf booksellers)
If you decide to go more into grains of the world, that is the focus of Live Education’s farming book
“Farm Anatomy” by Julia Rothman
“Baking Bread with Children” (Waldorf booksellers)
“Bread, Bread, Bread” by Ann Morris is a picture book if you have little ones tagging along
Shelters and Housebuilding
“Diary of an Early American Boy” by Eric P Sloane (also farming and American History)
Could tie into Native Americans with the Bonnie Shemie Native Dwellings Series (Houses of Hide and Earth, House of Bark, Houses of Snow, Skin and Bones, etc)
“Wonderful Houses Around the World” by Yoshio Komatsu – a lovely book that you could translate to dioramas, building models, etc.
Visit construction sites
Hunt for books about such things as steel making, rock quarries, putting together skyscrapers
Roy Wilkinson’s little booklet again
The little book “Arty Facts: Structures, Materials and Art Activities” by Crabtree Publishing has ideas
For American readers, “Sod Houses on the Great Plains” by Glen Rounds is good
Some folks love to put pioneer studies in Third Grade here in America
“Farmer Boy” and the next two in the series (I would wait on “The Long Winter”)
“My Little House Crafts Book”
“My Little Houe Sewing Book”
“Rachel’s Journal” by Marissa Moss
“A Pioneer Sampler” by Greenwood – the best in my opinion
“Daily Life in a Covered Wagon” by Erickson
“Songs From The Loom: A Navajo Girl Learns to Weave” by Monty Roessel (Native American Studies and fibers)
“Warm As Wool” by Scott Russell Sanders (American Studies and fibers)
“The Silk Princess” by Charles Santore
“Homespun Sarah” by Verla Kay (American Studies and fibers)
Obtain samples of different types of plant and animal fibers and make a fiber wheel
Obtain silkworms or silkworm cocoons
Grow cotton if you don’t need a permit in your state
Obtain sample kit from the American Cotton Growers Association
Go look at cotton in the field if it grows in your area
Work with wool from its unwashed state to knitting or weaving
Marsha Johnson has a nice fiber arts block on her yahoo group for free
Native American Studies
The Bonnie Shemie books mentioned above
Native American handwork – creating pouches, talking sticks, dream catchers, moccasins,
Native American cooking
Native American string games
“The Path of the Quiet Elk” by Virginia Stroud is something to consider for cursive writing introduction
Attend pow-wows or other points of Native American interest in your state
I had a few very old Native American tales/crafts/songs books that I picked up used so check your local second hand stores
Old Testament/Hebrew Studies
Pretty much every major Waldorf curriculum on the market has suggestions for the Third Grade Old Testaments Stories
“Legends of the Hebrew People” as suggested by Live Education is available on line for free
Many mothers seem to use ‘’The Story Bible” by Pearl Buck and like it
“Lighting the Path” by Rebecca Schacht (Jewish folklore)
May also want to try “”Women of the Bible” by Margaret McAllister (Paraclete Press)
“God’s People” by Geraldine McCaughrean may appeal to some
“My Grandmother’s Stories” by Adele Geras (Jewish Folk Tales)
Christian readers may also consider Ruth Beechick’s “Adam and His Kin” and also “The Mighty Acts of God: A Guide to Simple Family Drama Times” by John and Pam Forster
“Old Testament Days: An Activity Guide” by Nancy Sanders
Handwork – purling, crocheting, fiber arts block
See “Making Math Meaningful” by Jamie York
The books by Robert Wells regarding time, measurement, etc
“Thirteen Moons on Turtle’s Back” by Bruchac and London
Work measurement into practical life – cooking, building, farming, weighing produce at a farm and also into Old Testament/Legends of the Hebrew People stories
“Easy Carpentry Projects for Children” by Leavitt
Money – play store
“Farmer Boy” math block by Marsha Johnson mentioned above
Happy planning for third grade,
Thank you very much, Carrie, for this wonderful list! I am currently planning third grade for my oldest daughter. I have read many of your back posts of third grade – they are so helpful. I wonder if you could share more about how you decided to go with the themes of Native American and Farming for your younger, versus a major focus on Old Testament? I feel very torn between these themes for many reasons and am not sure yet which way to go, or if I can harmoniously bring all of it! Many thanks for sharing your voice, perspective and experience.
I will see if I can write a post on that. I could see folks picking different aspects of the curriculum for totally different reasons. However, I will say, Steiner did not mention Native peoples in his outline of Third Grade, (of course), and most seasoned Waldorf teachers do focus on the Old Testament stories as their mainstay of third grade.
Thank you, Carrie!
Comprehensive post, solid suggestions. It helped me have a greater view with my three children and I realized it’s okay to bring another aspect to Third, when my 2nd child comes of age. I have covered so much of this in daily living plus the books and curriculum, but some things come through deeper than others. I needed that inner silent pat on the back. Waldorf came to my life right before Kindy in a fuller conscious way, so I have really worked hard to learn the curriculum and take time to get broad and narrow perspectives. I have so much farther to go but I am enjoying this moment.
Printing this out – thanks so much Carrie. I am doing 3 blocks on the OT stories (using McCaughreen’s book) bc I think the story of the Jewish people is so foundational in our history and in our culture. However, we will be doing A LOT of building – both life-sized and dioramas – as my little guy loves bringing stories to life via 3D setups.
To talk a little about discernment (as mentioned in the comments above) I was going to do paintings of each of the 7 days of creation, bc that is usually “what’s done” in Waldorf circles. However, thinking about my 9 year old, we are just coming from a major painting experience that we did at the end of grade 2 and I realized *I* wanted to redo/recapture that experience, but really I think he would be better served by making a diorama of the Garden of Eden as our big project for our first OT block. We will still do a painting or two, but building will be the focus.
I like the idea of carrying building throughout the year. I think in many Waldorf circles, the Old Testament stories really delves into drawing and writing (which I like, don’t get me wrong) but what I am seeing in many of today’s children is that they need a start that is more project-oriented.
I can’t seem to find Marsha Johnson Math group for the Farming Math. Is it listed as something other than Marsha Johnson?
I believe Katie’s group is email@example.com and she also has a for sale site as well that I believe is called The Magic of Waldorf.
Hope that helps,
Hi, I wanted to know why you think A Long Winter should be read later? When do you suggest it should be read and why?
Yes, I think a child should be about 10 to read this book, so in Waldorf Education most ten year olds are in fourth grade not third. Mary is blind in this book, which is upsetting to many children and I think children should honestly be old enough to understand what that means and how sad it is and not just pass over it. Getting sad and really getting and comprehending the story line to me is an important part of reading and identifying compassionately with characters in a book – and to do this a child really needs to be through that developmental nine year change. The book is truly about facing a famine, a rather grim topic, so again, I feel it is suited to older children. I think there is a sense of loss that permeates much of this book, even in the description of the lone town on the wide prairie when Laura is searching for the light (Chapter 12 “Alone”).
I probably would read it during the winter of fourth grade but might even hold off until fifth depending upon how sensitive the child is. The end of On The Banks of Plum Creek, the book before this book, could also be held off on until fourth grade as well I think – the grasshoppers, winter storm with Pa lost, etc can be harder topics as well. I also think because “Little Town on the Prairie” comes next in the series and that is a lot more of the interpersonal relationships between the townspeople, Laura and Nellie and Miss Wilder, (very strong feelings there!), that that book is a better read for a fifth or even sixth grader, so reading “The Long Winter” a little later sets the stage for being a little more ready for the last books in the series.
Just a few thoughts. You know your child best and will make the best decision.
being i live in Europe should I concentrate on buildings, stories from European folk tales or just from my country? versus American Native?
usually Third Grade is Old Testament stories, Creation Stories, you could do legends, building, gardening and textiles are often blocks within themselves along with measurement and working on math concepts from previous grades and advancing mathematical progression.
Hope that helps,
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