The Class 5 child continues to move from pure imagination towards critical thinking. The child’s growth is mirrored in the growth of the plants. The children are not only learning their place in the world, but for the first time they are able to observe the world as something linked to, but also apart from themselves.
Class 5 Themes
Class 5 students learn to hone their powers of observation. In Botany, students observe the characteristics of various plants and their environments. Students observe, draw, and paint the unfolding phases of plant growth from root to leaf to flower.
In Class 5, students begin to work with decimals. Here they continue with the idea introduced in Class 4 that numbers can be broken into parts and these parts have many permutations. Students learn too that in language, words can be transformed and meaning can be changed as sentences and the structures of sentences are transformed.
Students learn about the ancient world in Class 5. Through the literature and history of the peoples of India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece, the students in Class 5 find themselves immersed in development of these ancient worlds. In Class 5 there is a focus on beauty and form, not only in the students’ academic work, but in their movement and inner development as well. The year culminates with an expression of the ultimate adherence to beauty through form—a reenactment of the ancient Olympics. A trip to the “Greek Olympics,” in which all regional Waldorf schools participate is a much-anticipated event of the year.
Students make simple sketches of plants, animals, people, and architecture using the themes present in blocks, e.g., pyramids, Greek temples, archetypal plants. The experience of the visual arts is stimulated through the natural environment.
In Classes 4-5, the French curriculum becomes more practical in nature. The themes often mirror the ones of the Main Lesson. Children now learn conversational French, both casual and formal. There is some writing, but only the very beginning of grammar rules.
After having put away their knitting for a couple of years, Class 5 students begin knitting again in earnest. The students become very proficient knitters as they learn to knit slipper socks using four and five needles in “the round.” Knitting at this level requires great dexterity and concentration.
In Class 5, the world of harmony opens up to the students, both in singing and recorder playing. Class 5 students learn to sing in two-part harmony, as well as continuing with the harmony of rounds appropriate to their age and ability. The music of India, Greece, and the Middle East supports the Class 5 curriculum work. They play two-part harmonies on the soprano recorder and, towards the end of Class 5, the Alto and Tenor recorders are introduced. New rhythms, time signatures, and keys are introduced in the realm of theory, and weekly home practice continues as a support to the building of the students’ skills.
Much of the movement and physical education in Class 5 is in preparation for the students’ participation in the “Greek Olympics.” Students often learn to throw the javelin and discus; they complete a long jump and participate in various track/running events. The objective for Games/Movement class in Class 5 is really about the fluidity and beauty of the form of movement.