Sixth grade Roman History is one of those mainstay blocks in Waldorf Schools. Usually both Roman History and Medieval History are covered in the sixth grade in a school setting, but I have seen that not always occur in the homeschool environment. With this block, like ALL the history blocks in grades 6-8, I think it is really important to think about WHY you are doing WHAT you are doing. Waldorf History in these grades is a more a symptomatic approach to a particular time period and HOW that time period and the consciousness of these people, usually exemplified by biographies, fits in with the development of the child. We often juxtapose polar opposite historical figures for even greater impact. Examples in Roman History might be the contrast between Augustus Caesar and Nero, for example. You will have judgment calls to make as to what to include and how much to include for each block of history. That is your right as the teacher.
So this week I have spent most of my week researching and typing away to create a Roman History block…this is my second time planning Roman History, for two very, very different children and I knew much more about Roman History from going through it the first time. I have a whole stack of resources I am pulling from including “When the World Was Rome” by Brooks and Walworth; “Roman Lives” by Harrer (not super used); Kovacs’ “Ancient Rome” which I can’t really recommend – I like the story tone, but it is inaccurate on so many levels and really functions more at an overview level than anything in detailed narrative; “Famous Men of Ancient Rome” by Haaren and Poland which is also not very detailed; “Peril and Peace” by the Withrows (Christian Resource); “Classical Kids” by Carlson for some minor ideas; Foster’s “Augustus Caesar’s World”; “Roman Fort” by MacDonald and Wood; “City” by Macauley: “Our Little Roman Cousin of Long Ago” by Cowles; a National Geographic “special issue” from 2015 on “The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire” (I like to know what is current); and “Attila the Hun” by Ingram. Plus I have looked at all the major Waldorf curriculum providers out there and varying history/ancient history websites. This could be overwhelming to have this many resources, but I suggest you at least basic check fact your main resource against something. Not everything will agree, but accuracy is important. For example, there are varying opinions on Nero and the Burning of Rome and whether or not the early Christians actually met in the catacombs or not. If I had to pick a few resources for the teacher, I would suggest “When the World Was Rome”, the National Geographic issue, and the Internet.
My basic structure is always to figure out our objectives – what do we want to walk away with?; and then academic objectives for my child and artistic objectives. I think about hands-on projects. The child I am designing this for finds writing and hands-on projects exhausting, so I have to balance all of this with what we are doing in other blocks during the school year. I always pick a read-aloud for our block (one or sometimes two). I usually come up with a vocabulary list for each week as well (and to me, spelling and vocabulary are two different things. Often what mothers seem to be pulling from blocks on the advice of well-meaning Waldorf teachers is vocabulary, not spelling, but that is another post I guess).
Each day for us follows a similar pattern of movement (so in this case, perhaps Movement for Childhood exercises or Brain Gym movements and Roman marching); Opening Verse, the Latin Phrase of the Day, Poetry, review of Math or tying in of Math to the Main Lesson as I can and the main lesson review from the day before. Then we move into whatever work needs to be done and new material.
I am happy about my block this year, but readily admit it took hours to plan. It has been slow going in planning sixth grade overall and I also have first to plan and quite a bit of ninth grade blocks (ninth grade biology is at least for the most part done other than my lectures that I am going to present).
Hope your planning is coming along! Please share what you are working on and help other planning mothers out with wonderful ideas and tips…