Norse mythology was actually new to me when I came to homeschooling; I just didn’t remember there being as big a focus on those stories in school as the Greek Myths. So, I felt a little behind the eight ball when I came into teaching fourth grade. I also wondered about the connection between Norse mythology and the Waldorf School Curriculum because I never remembered reading about Norse myths in any of Steiner’s educational lectures, of which I had read the majority. Yes, there is good mention in Mission for Folk Souls (Lecture 9) about the generalities, but not related to fourth grade. I think my opinion is rather well-summed up in agreement with Waldorf Educator Stephen Sagarin and his blog post about Norse Myths here.
So, all that to say, Steiner talked about “ancient scenes” for fourth grade- which could include stories of Norse Mythology or something else entirely! We usually cover stories and mythology of Ancient India, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, etc in fifth grade, but there are other types of ancient stories one could use in fourth grade! In the Americas, one might consider the Popul Vuh, for example, or stories from the San, one of the most ancient groups still living today, or Japanese mythology or Celtic tales. I also considered Icelandic tales and such. I think you have to really take the time to read the stories and see if they resonate with you and the child standing in front of you.
So, the first time I went through our Norse Mythology block I think it was a little more rote. I hadn’t really penetrated the myths well, other than they were interesting stories and people, and of course, many references to these stories in literature and movies in our North American culture. The quick differences in personalities, the grey that lives in the black and white, the outrageousness of Loki, and yes, even the darkness of Ragnorakk seems to really fit with ten year olds and their development. However, if I lived in a different part of the world, quite frankly, I don’t know as I would have picked Norse mythology. Our family has Danish and Norweigian blood, so it also made sense for us to an extent as part of our own family culture. It may not for other families, and I think that is okay! Freedom in Waldorf Education is essential in bringing what is right for you and your family, so long as it is done in a developmental light.
The second time I went through Norse Mythology, I had a much better grasp on it. I used D’Aulaire’s Book of Norse Myths just like the first time, but I didn’t try to bring all of the stories to life and instead picked the tales that I thought would really speak to my child.
For our main lesson books, we ended up with the first time through main lesson book with the following in it: Copywork of a poem, a watercolor painting of Jutenheim, a watercolor painting of Muspelheim, The Nine Norse Worlds drawing, The Creation of the New world and man summary, Knot Drawing #1, drawing of the Three Norns, Knot Drawing #2, Picture and Summary of Odin, Summary of Loki and some of the other gods, Drawing and summary of Freya, watercolor painting of a jotun, drawing and summary of Odin and Sleipner, picture and story of Freya’s wonderful necklace, Summary and Painting of the Theft of Thor’s Hammer, copywork of poem about Thor, Summary of Thor and the Giant, Drawing and Summary The Death of Balder, Knot Drawing #3, Ragnorokk summary with knot border, A New World painting and drawing and a painting of Scandinavia.
The second time through fourth grade main lesson from this block, (not as much writing): Drawn Title Page with knot drawings, Drawing of Odin and poetry copywork, the three Norns and relation to grammar, four kinds of sentences, Drawing and Summary of Balder, Drawng and Summary of Sif, Drawng and Summary of Freya’s Wonderful Necklace, Drawing and Summary of the Death of Balder, Drawing of Ragnarokk, 8 watercolor paintings.
Hope that helps some of you planning Norse Myths not to feel overwhelmed. It can be a fun block, working in any amount of grammar and writing that your student needs.
Blessings and love,
How wonderful to read your thoughts on this Carrie. I am working on Norse Mythology right now with my fourth grader. Thank you for sharing
Thanks for this post, Carrie! I have the book you mentioned and was pondering what to do with it next year. I really appreciated your summary of both years, and I’m going to look into some of the other cultures recommended.
The first time I did the Norse Myths, like you, I only did the myths, using a German book. For the second, third, and fourth child, I did use my German book and D’Aulaire’s book, but also used this block to introduce my children to the history of the Germanic peoples that inhabited Germany. We found a wonderful German book (“Germanen” by Anne Scheller) for that purpose, which puts the myths into a historical context. This is also a good time to talk about the Vikings and so we used “Viking Tales” by Jennie Hall. We even managed to see the ship Draken Harald Hårfagre, when it was touring the U.S. Once you do something with the Vikings, you can also tie in the Vikings that came to America. All these different sources lighten up the load of having to only do Germanic myths.
Yes! We did a lot more with Vikings in our fourth grade year and I liked the Vikings Tales book very much.😊
Wondering if you have ever researched Japanese mythology for 4th grade? I’m currently doing so and would appreciate any ideas or resources out there that have been helpful. Sheila
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