From the myths of the ancient Egyptians, Indians and Persians to the written history of the ancient Greeks, fifth graders move from the stories of ancient peoples to the formal study of history. At the same time, fifth graders attain a certain ease and grace of physical movement intrinsic to their age. An awareness of self strengthens. The celebration of these unique abilities culminates in the fifth grade's participation in the Greek Olympiad, a glorious pentathlon event with other regional Waldorf schools.
The Greek Olympiad is one of the most memorable experiences of the fifth grade year, and for some, their entire time at Waldorf. Months before the event, the students begin to practice the five original Olympic sports: discus, javelin, wrestling, relay, and long jump. Then, the students gather for two or three days with others from area Waldorf schools for a group reenactment of the Olympic Games. Beginning with the inspirational lighting of the Olympic torch, the event continues with field competitions by each of the four city-states: Corinth, Thebes, Athens, and Sparta. A closing ceremony acknowledges the special contributions of each student.
More than just looking at the scientific illustrations in a textbook, students at Waldorf learn about plants by observation and rendering botanical drawings themselves. The level of detail and craftsmanship that goes into each work helps students internalize the information and vocabulary.
Botany is the focus of the fifth grade scientific study. Science at Waldorf begins first with the study of natural objects found in the student's local environment. Later science lessons evolve into more abstract ideas of chemistry and physics.
Woodworking begins in Grade Five. Giving life to Goethe's belief that “To do, to be active is Man's noblest calling,” we provide our fifth graders with hand tools, raw materials and a purposeful task: to harvest wood from nature and transform it into a spoon – both beautiful and functional.
In middle school, these students will be given more challenging tasks that incorporate aspects of perspective drawing, geometry, proportions and measurements. Above all, working with wood requires the students to develop an eye for the inner beauty of natural objects as well as the patience to call that beauty forth.
History: Historical concepts include the ancient cultures of India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece. History is explored through a study of architecture, art, literature, speech, and government. Students recite and sing texts from various cultural epochs.
Literature: Content is drawn from ancient mythology and legend, as well as from sacred and secular texts from around the world. Through the study of the biographies of important individuals, a picture of life in ancient times is brought to life. Students are exposed to primary source material whenever possible.
English and Grammar: Students are presented with a variety of different writing styles including essays and short stories. Grammar topics may include active and passive verbs, subject and predicate, synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms, parts of speech, syntax, and punctuation.
Geography: As their awareness of the surrounding world expands, students learn about the\ distinctive elements of the many different regions of the United States.
Science: Botany offers students a picture of the unique qualities of plants. Emphasis is placed on the plant in relation to its surroundings.
Mathematics: Topics include decimals, fractions, mixed numbers, reciprocals, calculation of area, and ratio.
Drawing, Painting, and Modeling: Greek and Egyptian forms inspire drawing lessons. Freehand geometric drawing is also introduced. Greek columns, vases and tablets are sculpted with clay.
Class Teacher: Joshua Gartland
More information about Waldorf Pedagogy is found under our Parent Resources page.