Awakening the imagination

In the elementary school grades, children master the fundamental skills for learning through an artistic approach in ways that engage their imaginations and instills a curiosity for the world and a love of learning.

Class One

The Class 1 child is at their peak of observation for the outer world. The children are awakening through the wonder of pictures, stories, and rhythmic movement.

  • Through stories, the children are introduced to each letter of the alphabet
  • Form drawing develops dexterity of the hands and mind, which leads to the writing of letters
  • French is introduced through songs, games, and stories
  • As fingers become adept, so does the mind. Students in Class 1 learn to knit.

Children of this age still live in a dreamy consciousness and therefore much learning is continued through activity and imitation.

In Class 1 the children are awakening through the wonder of pictures, stories, and rhythmic movement.

The morning in Class 1 begins with a song, a handshake, and the group recitation of a poem. These acts, along with more songs, rhythmic activities, pentatonic flute playing, and recitation are all part of every Class 1 child’s morning experience.
Through stories, the children are introduced to each letter of the alphabet. In this way the children experience the development of language in a very concrete, yet creative way. Instead of abstract symbols the letters become actual characters that the children have a real relationship with. Through this process the children learn from the whole—the story—to the parts—the letters and symbols.

Specialty Subjects

Visual Arts
Painting is intended to give the students an experience of working with color rather than immediately creating formed pictures. At first, students work with one color at a time, learning their properties. Then, students explore how colors meet and blend. In colouring and drawing with beeswax crayons, the students imitate the teacher’s work, attempting to draw whole shapes rather than filling in outlines.

Form Drawing
Students learn to draw all manner of lines and line patterns in Class 1. Straight lines and curved lines have different qualities and drawing them develops dexterity of the hands and mind, which leads to the writing of letters. Students learn to see the lines found everywhere within the natural world.

Beeswax
The students’ feelings for form are encouraged through natural beeswax modelling. The simple figures that Class 1 students learn to form help them to “re-tell” the fairy-tales heard during story time.

French
In Classes 1-3 children are immersed in the French language through songs, games, and stories. Puppets add a lively element to the lesson and develop the children’s imagination and listening skills.

Handwork
As fingers become adept, so does the mind. All of the activities in handwork, while being fun and creative, facilitate brain development. Students in Class 1 learn to knit. First, finger knitting is introduced, in which the students make cords. Then, students use three fingers to knit, making colourful belts. Finally, students sew a rectangular pouch with needles that they have sanded and polished themselves. Often students complete a knitted recorder case and animal in Class 1 as well.

Music
Music is integrated into the daily rhythm and involves singing and playing the pentatonic recorder flute, which also helps develop finger dexterity. Class 1 students enter the world of music through the pentatonic scale. In this scale all the notes have a harmonious sound in any order they are played.

Games/Movement
Running and group circle games are played in Games/Movement class. The students work on their cooperation skills and sportsmanship. The emphasis is on the joy of movement within their own space and with others.

Class Two

The Class 2 child continues with the foundation of their first year in elementary school, but with more complex stories that focus on the child’s moral life.

  • Students explore their sense of adventure and their own characters through stories of saints and animal fables
  • Printing and cursive writing are practiced as students fill out their Main Lesson books
  • French, music and movement are integrated at least weekly
  • Knitting skills progress as students learn math fundamentals through sequencing, patterning, and more

The children become increasingly aware of what goes on around them and there is a corresponding increase of alertness to the outside world.

The Class 2 child continues with the foundation of their first year in elementary school, but with more complex stories that focus on the child’s moral life.

Class 2 Themes

In Class 2, the stories of Saints, good people, and fables guide children in their moral development. The stories not only appeal to their growing sense of adventure, but they also speak to that which is the highest good within themselves, as in the Saint stories, and to the lower qualities presented by the animals in the fables.

The children in Class 2 continue to retell the stories told by their teacher in a daily review, and they are now able to write and read the material they create in their Main Lesson books. Not only do the children now print letters, but they also practice cursive handwriting. The children have now entered the world of reading and writing.

The children in Class 2 continue to retell the stories told by their teacher in a daily review, and they are now able to write and read the material they create in their Main Lesson books. Not only do the children now print letters, but they also practice cursive handwriting. The children have now entered the world of reading and writing.Class 2 reading

In arithmetic too, the skills build from the previous year in the four operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The concept of place value is introduced in a Main Lesson story, along with borrowing and carrying of larger numbers. Daily rhythmic activities, circle games, and mental math help to reinforce the number facts and tables.

Specialty Subjects

Visual Arts
with block and stick beeswax crayons is taught daily as part of the Main Lesson work. Students are taught form drawing, watercolour painting, and beeswax modelling at least once weekly. Students continue to work primarily with colour but little form, and gradually begin to use the colours to create images.

Beeswax
Children learn to model animal and human forms out of one piece of wax, thus pulling the image out of the solid. The students also work with the directionality, horizontal or vertical, of a form, as well as the creation of “scenes” using several figures.

Form Drawing
Class 2 students draw forms using incomplete symmetry. In other words, students draw the other half of an image, making it the same as the image given in an alternate location (either horizontally or vertically on the page). Through this, students learn to complete incomplete things and to develop a sense of balance and work. Students draw forms that help them with the complexity and fluidity of cursive writing.

French
In Classes 1-3, children are immersed in the French language through songs, games, and stories. Puppets add a lively element to the lesson and develop the children’s imagination and listening skills.

Handwork
Knitting in Class 2 gives the students practice in sequencing, patterning, counting, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing. These are the foundation math skills. Students first choose simple animals to knit, all the while practicing increasing, decreasing, and counting rows. Students then learn to sew, shape, and stuff their completed animals.

Music
Music is integrated into the daily rhythm and involves singing and playing the recorder, which helps develop finger dexterity.

Games/Movement
Running and group circle games are played in Games/Movement class. The students work on their cooperation skills and sportsmanship. The emphasis is on the joy of movement within their own space and with others.

Class Three

Class 3 students are leaving the dreamy world of fairy-tales and fanciful animals behind. They have entered a new phase of life, that of practical work. They see the world as a concrete stable place.

  • Class 3 students learn skills of building, farming and gardening, cooking, and weaving
  • Silent, independent reading and more complex arithmetic are taken up with joy
  • Visual arts and form drawing explore tones and shades, and the metamorphosis of shapes
  • Crochet is introduced in Handwork, and students begin to practice reading music

Class 3 children have their first overnight trip, without parents, usually at a local farm. This fosters a feeling of independence and can be a milestone for many. The experience of working together on the many group projects possible this year – from building to gardening – helps to transform the feeling of ‘separateness from the world’ to a feeling of ‘responsibility for the world’.

The Class 3 child leaves behind the complete magic of childhood and comes down to earth with awe and wonder for the world.

Class 3 Themes

Class 3 students are leaving the dreamy world of fairy-tales and fanciful animals behind. They have entered a new phase of life, that of practical work. They see the world as a concrete stable place. The Hebrew people who worked, toiled, and hoped that their efforts would make the world a beautiful place are now a tangible archetype for the Class 3 student. The students in Class 3 learn what it takes to tame the wilderness with their skills of building, farming and gardening, cooking, and weaving. All of these newly acquired skills are once again depicted in their Main Lesson books with their growing language and mathematical fluency.

It is now in Class 3 that reading truly becomes independent. Students continue to recite verses and dramatize stories and plays in chorus, but their individual silent reading is now something they take up with joy.

Arithmetic is now much more demanding. As the numbers become larger, the steps involved in finding a solution increases. The students begin to spend less time on rhythmic circle games, and practice in writing and thinking mentally with the four operations increases. Now is the time for students to begin learning measurement, time, estimating, and rounding. All of these skills are put to practical use when it comes time in the year for the shelter-building project.

Specialty Subjects

Visual Arts
Students in Class 3 begin to look at and use tones in their painting and drawing. Light tones, dark tones, two tones, and shades of tones become important factors in the composition of their work. Students in Class 3 paint a color creation story from the book of Genesis based on their studies of the ancient Hebrew people.

Beeswax
Students in Class 3 continue to work with beeswax forms, but now the emphasis is on the transparency of the wax. Concave and convex shapes are drawn out of the wax, so that thicker and thinner areas are created. This makes part of the figure darker in color and part lighter, depending on how the light shines through the wax.

Form Drawing
Students in Class 3 focus on the metamorphosis of forms. Thus, if the first form drawn is a circle, how would one draw three intermediate forms so that the final product would be a figure eight?

French
In Classes 1-3, children are immersed in the French language through songs, games, and stories. Puppets add a lively element to the lesson and develop the children’s imagination and listening skills.

Handwork
The students in Class 3 learn to crochet. Crochet allows for more flexibility in shape shifting than knitting. Students often crochet their own belts, washcloths, water bottle covers, gloves, and hats.

Music
In Class 3, students are taught by the school’s music teacher, while singing and morning recorder playing continues with the class teacher. Class 3 students begin to sing rounds, a natural introduction to the experience of harmony. In Class 3, many Hebrew folk songs and rounds are taught, which support the general curriculum. Towards the end of Class 3, the students begin to learn to read notes on the staff line.

Games/Movement
Energetic and imaginative circle and running games continue in Games/Movement class. The children are honing the sportsman-like attitude toward games and are now able to find themselves within their own space and place in a group game. More emphasis is beginning to be placed on the individual, readying them for more organized sports in the coming years.

Class Four

Class 4 children start to become independent as they near the nine-year change. They begin to understand similarities and differences. Class 4 students are on the threshold of inferential thinking. They are now able to meet the world with new capacities of thinking and feeling.

  • Curriculum focus on the environment, through local and regional geography, and the animal kingdom
  • First Nations history and Norse myths are explored as examples of adapting to the environment
  • Students practice drawing braided and woven forms, and emphasis is placed on patterns
  • French lessons become more practical, as students begin to learn conversational French, both casual and formal

Cognitively, they are more able to understand questions and phenomena in a realistic and reasoning way. There is a greater sense for empathetic feeling and a new clarity of thinking enables even more cultivation of personal responsibility and a reasoned sense of right and wrong.

Class 4 children start to become independent as they near the nine-year change. They begin to understand similarities and differences. Class 4 students are on the threshold of inferential thinking. They are now able to meet the world with new capacities of thinking and feeling.

Class 4 Themes

The students in Class 4 are now able to truly experience the world beyond their immediate families. The curriculum addresses the students’ growing need to move beyond themselves. Now is the perfect time for students to connect with the environment. Subjects like local and regional geography are taught. Geography lessons may begin with a map of the classroom, with subsequent lessons expanding to the larger community and local regions. The culture and ancient living of First Nations Peoples, and the myths and legends of the Norse people, all give the students a better understanding of how people are able to adapt to and change their environment.

Animals too are a part of the wider world, and in Class 4 science lessons introduce the students to the animal kingdom in relation to the human being.Fractions are introduced to students in Class 4. Through fractions, the students learn that what were once seemingly whole numbers can be divided into countless parts. Yet, the same rules underlying this breaking apart will also bring these numbers back together.

Grammar as a formal subject begins in Class 4. All parts of speech are studied. Elementary patterns of our language are introduced. Students learn through the division of a sentence, as well as the division of numbers, as in fractions, that the whole is made up of many parts that can be manipulated.

Specialty Subjects

Visual Arts
Students in Class 4 study the differences between light and dark colours, and how layers of colour change the mood or feeling of a composition. Students take a more in-depth look at the animal form in painting, drawing, and sculpture.

Form Drawing
Student practice drawing inter-woven and braided forms. Much emphasis is placed on the study of patterns, which in turn helps develop students’ arithmetic skills. It is in Class 4 that Celtic knots are practiced, which help students develop their abilities for painting, woodwork, and handwork.

French
In Classes 4-5, the French curriculum becomes more practical in nature. The themes often mirror the themes 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.

Handwork
Students in Class 4 learn to cross-stitch. Cross-stitching helps the children to become precise and to strengthen their individuality. Once the cross-stitch is learned, students learn new stitches and techniques such as pinning, needle threading, knot tying, measuring, basting, whip stitching, and the running-back stitch.

Music
In Class 4, students continue to sing rounds. They are now proficient in this skill, and can gradually learn to sing more complicated rounds. Songs from Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland support the curriculum of the Norse Myths. The skill of reading music continues to be taught, and is supported by weekly home practice. In Class 4, time values of the notes is the focus, which is strongly supported by the math curriculum, where the students learn about fractions.

Games/Movement
As students begin to separate from the group and grow as individuals, their ability to participate in team and individual sports also increases. More emphasis is now placed on individual performance than in years past.

Class Five

The Class 5 child continues to move from pure imagination towards critical thinking. 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.

  • Students study botany, decimals, and the ancient world
  • There is a focus on beauty and form, not only in the students’ academic work, but in their movement and inner development as well
  • Students participate in The Greek Olympics, a sporting event in which Waldorf schools across the region participate
  • The world of harmony opens up to the students, both in singing and recorder playing

In Class 5, we observe a balance between their mental, emotional, and physical growth. For this reason, this time is often called the “golden age of childhood.” The child attains a certain ease and grace of movement intrinsic to the age.

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

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.

Specialty Subjects

Visual Arts
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.

French
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.

Handwork
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.

Music
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.

Games/Movement
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.

Elementary School Teachers

Caitlin Venditti

Class 1

Amanda Butterworth

Class 2

Ralf Hoerger

Class 3

Marcelo Porto Goncalves

Class 4

Carly Ristow

Class 5

Nelson Waldorf School
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