Turning ideas into action

Adolescence is the time of life when the child begins to set their vision on wider horizons and their capacities for critical reasoning and scientific thinking begin to expand. The richness of the Waldorf curriculum opens up to meet the needs of the 12 to 15 year old, inspiring the students to develop their own talents and gifts to offer to the world.

Grade 6

The twelve year old is at an exciting juncture in their life. The guidance of the adults in their lives begins to make room for the child’s own emerging likes, dislikes, talents and interests.

  • The tangible physical world is studied through astronomy and physics
  • Geometry demands precision and accuracy, testing hand-eye coordination
  • Business Math studies banking and retail, and algebra is introduced
  • Cyber Civics provides tools for the responsible use of technology

Throughout this year students are encouraged to develop their powers of observation, to work with increased precision and accuracy in all areas of doing and thinking.

The Class 6 child is at their peak of observation for the outer world. They are balanced in their outside world of authority and order.

Class 6 Themes

The grade six student’s capacity for critical thinking and reasoning and thrives on exploring the way the world works through experimentation and the close observation of nature. The daily developed artistic skills in painting, drawing, singing and drama of the early years have an opportunity to flourish in the study of the arts from Greece, Rome and the Middle Ages.

The twelve year old is at an exciting juncture in their life. The loving guidance of the adults in their lives needs to begin to make room for the child’s own emerging like, dislikes, talents and interests. The students strive to stand on their own feet and embrace the world with their new capacities of thinking and perception. The Waldorf Sixth Grade curriculum meets the emotional and physical changes of the adolescent with a study of the Roman Empire and the internal and external forces that caused its fall. The students learn about the Roman Empire great feats of oratory and debating, organization, engineering, philosophy, religion, and law. Students also learn of the changes that occurred in European society that led to the Middle Ages. The Class 6 students delve into primary sourced recorded history. Through biographies of famous individuals, told as a story by the class teacher, history comes alive.

Students in Class 6 study the tangible physical world in greater detail in the science blocks of Mineralogy, Astronomy, and Physics. Students learn through inquiry and observation. They are taught in a way that allows them to discover for themselves what is true in the world, instead of being given the predetermined laws. The students investigate with simple tools and their own power of observation. Their experiments, their analysis, and their conclusions are presented in their Main Lesson books which they have written and drawn themselves.

As the vocabulary and sentence structure of Class 6 students continues to expand, so does their ability to take on new forms of writing. Practical writing, such as business letters and other forms of expository writing, begin to take shape. Class 6 students take on more ownership for their individual work, not only in composition, but also in the proofing and editing of their drafts and final work.

In Mathematics, the new subject of Geometry is introduced. What began as Form Drawing and progressed to freehand Geometry in the previous classes now takes on a new form. Instruments, rulers, compasses, and protractors are used to measure and create complex geometrical forms. The precision and accuracy, along with the lawfulness of Geometry challenges the increasing eye-hand coordination of the 12 year old. Students also begin the study of Business Math, in which they learn the principles of banking and retail. With their newly acquired understanding of percentages comes the ideas of ratios, proportions, exponents, and an introduction to algebra.

Specialty Subjects

Visual Arts
The development of the interplay of light and dark is a main theme in Grade 6. The visual arts have the support of the students’ exploration of Optics in the Physics Main Lesson of how colour arises from the interaction of light and darkness. The students begin to understand how the illusion of depth is created through the use of highlight and shadow first in their charcoal drawings and later in their coloured drawings and paintings. These skills begin to satisfy the adolescents’ need to create drawings that look like “real life”.

In Classes 6 and 7, speaking, reading, and writing are now practiced in a more formal way. The rules of grammar and pronunciation are learned. This is a perfect time to ask students to practice writing their own small skits, which they enjoy performing for their peers.

Class 6 students create three-dimensional projects. The students are familiarized with the initial steps of using careful and correct pattern layout, pinning, and cutting. Often the first project is to sew an animal out of felt, with gussets to make it three-dimensional. As a second project, many students design and draft a pattern for their own magical beasts. After Christmas, all students begin making their own dolls.

In Class 6, students are ready to sing in three-part, and later even four-part, harmony. Students take on the Alto or Tenor recorder in earnest, and the class now plays all recorder pieces in three-part harmony. The Class 6 curriculum is supported by early Latin music: chants, rounds, and three-part early church music. More complicated rhythms and the understanding of minor and major keys are introduced, and weekly home practice continues as a support to the building of the students’ skills.

The students in Class 6 continue to develop their skills in team and individual sports, and in movement exercises. The emphasis in activities is on their control, coordination, and self-evaluation of their physical development.

Class Trips
The students in Class 6 will participate in a two night trip hiking to Kokanee Glacier, a day trip to Cody Caves, and a year-end 90km bike trip.

Class Seven

Class 7 students are deepening connections within their developing individuality and the outside world. Their sense of identity is broadening and a healthy process of questioning authority is developing. The students are asking for justice and equality in all that they encounter.

  • Students delve into the Age of Exploration
  • The class develops and performs a play for the school and community
  • Students learn to sew an article clothing and to follow a pattern
  • Class 7 begins and ends the year with a multi-day class trip

While a feeling and yearning for independence and solitude may be experienced, a certain anxiety, emotional sensitivity and embarrassment can run alongside. Curriculum themes mirror the students’ outer exploration of the world, and their own inner journey.

Class 7 students are deepening connections within their developing individuality and the outside world. Their sense of identity is broadening and a healthy process of questioning authority is developing. The students are asking for justice and equality in all that they encounter.

Class 7 Themes

Class 7 chalk artThe study of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance are woven into Class 7 studies through a cross-curricular approach. The students gain an understanding of the political, cultural, and physical interrelationships of the continents of Europe, Africa, South America and Asia. These studies offer many opportunities for the students to apply their artistic talents to map making and to explore the art of these cultures.

The students learn the biographies of significant historical figures such as Joan of Arc, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Eleanor of Aquitaine. The trials, sacrifices, and lofty human strivings of historical figures speak to Class 7 students, who are on the brink of great emotional and intellectual advancement.

Students delve into The Age of Exploration, learning about the Vikings and settlers who journeyed on ships and “discovered”new land. Biographies such as Marco Polo, Ferdinand Magellan and Jacques Cartier are learned through storytelling and studying maps. The cultures of the Indigenous people of the Americas that the European explorers encountered are researched and examined to deepen the understanding of what underlies present day conflicts.

Human Physiology is taught from the perspective of the holistic maintenance and care of one’s body. Students learn about the circulatory, digestive and reproductive systems. Sexual education is included in this study, where consent, trust and diversity are explored.

Students study the mechanical advances that took place during the time of the Renaissance. Mechanics and Physics begin in Class 7 with the study of simple machines such as levers, inclined planes, screws, wheels, and pulleys.
In Chemistry, students learn the scientific method. They observe, perform, and describe simple experiments. How does a candle burn? Why does salt form from evaporated water? Students discover the fundamental scientific laws for themselves.
Class 7 students work with Algebraic equations, along with discovering the Pythagorean Theorem. and the history of the Pythagorean Brotherhood. Geometric concepts such as area and perimeter are reviewed, along with introducing square-roots, powers and integers.

In Perspective Drawing, students learn exacting laws and techniques to create images from a variety of vantage points and perspectives. We believe the wider implications of seeing from numerous perspectives is important for students’ social development.

In Language Arts, students express their ideas through a creative writing block called “Wish, Wonder, and Surprise.” Students create original poems, essays, and stories. Students develop their individual writing style, speech (abilities) and strengthen their comprehension by reading a selection of poetry from around the world.

During the drama block, students work together to produce a class play for the school, as well as the wider Nelson community. A class 7 play reflects the historical period of the Renaissance. Shakespeare and Jonson are often highlighted during this exciting and theatrical time.

The geographies of Europe, South America and Africa ( and sometimes Asia) are taught in grades 6- 8, depending on the teacher’s curriculum focus for each particular year. The culture, ethics, history and terrain are included with emphasis on what is diverse and unique to the region.

Specialty Subjects

Visual Arts
Class 7 Dragon-makingStudents in Class 7 work for the first time with perspective in their paintings and drawings. Students also work with design techniques such as composition, headings, vignettes, illustration, and cover design, which are then used in their Main Lesson books. In keeping with the theme of the Renaissance, students explore forms of expression such as frescoes and clay sculptures of the human form, as well as studying concepts of composition (and mathematics) such as the golden mean.

In the Class 7 curriculum, students learn to sew an article of clothing by hand and to work from a pattern. Students begin by selecting patterns and fabric and then learning to pin, mark, baste, and finally hand-sew a garment. Students also learn the art of wet felting, which is an ancient technique of matting wool fibres with soap and warm water. Students often make their own felted wool slippers.

In Class 7, Renaissance music, particularly instrumental pieces, support the Class 7 curriculum of the Renaissance Period. The students begin to learn about intervals and chords, and continue their study of keys and rhythms. In Class 7, accompanied singing is introduced and some pop music is added to the repertoire. Weekly home practice continues.

In Class 7 students perform a play for the rest of the school. Plays are usually associated with the curriculum as a period piece (such as Shakespeare) or as a style of theatre that developed during the historical period of study.

Class 7 students play many sports and games and practice the skills and drills associated with them. Physical fitness is emphasized, which includes activities such as running fitness circuits and cardiovascular and strength training.

Class Trips
Students begin and end their year with a class trip. The first trip of the year is a several day low ropes course. The class seven students will also participate in day trips including, biking, snowshoeing, and hiking. The year end trip can vary, and has features a week long “Discovery Trip” of local surroundings on foot and by boat, canoeing Slocan Lake, or rock-climbing at Skaha Bluffs near Penticton.

Class Eight

The Class Eight student stands on the exciting threshold of adolescence and the preparation for taking their place in the wider world. Their teacher must also change their approach to the class of forward-looking 14 year olds. They are shifting from being the author into becoming a mentor for the interests and pursuits of the individuals that stand before them.

  • An Independent Project allows students the freedom to explore their interest with a mentor
  • The study of revolutions encourages them to reflect on their own choices
  • The capacity for hypothetical deductive reasoning is now at their fingertips
  • Class 8 experiences the world through multiple class trips

Ideas about the world become more meaningful as adolescents continue to find their own voice. They learn that forming appropriate judgements is connected to, and leads to asking new questions.

Class 8 children are at last able to view themselves and the world objectively. They have formed a link between their formative years and that of the development of civilization.

Class 8 Themes

Class 8 students on snow-camping tripClass 8 is the culmination of the past seven years of elementary education. The ascending spiral, which is the Waldorf elementary education, has reached its height. All the studies that have come before are recapitulated and deepened in this eighth year.

Now the students are at an end of their elementary journey with their class teacher. They are both inwardly and academically reaching a new age. Therefore, it is appropriate for Class 8 children that at this time their studies focus on the Age of Revolution. The American Revolution, the French and Russian Revolutions, and the Industrial Revolution all play a prominent role in the studies of a Class 8 student. Like in Class 7 the year before, students learn how historical figures colonized and conquered; how frail, powerful, and complex humans are; and how individuals shaped the history of their growing nations. Class 8 students are also able to compare and contrast past events with modern political events. Class 8 students continue to expand their consciousness of the world through their study of world geography, while also taking a closer look at the culture and geography of Africa and Asia.

Class 8 basket-makingClass 8 students continue their formal studies in Science, which include Organic Chemistry and Physics. As in Class 7, students describe and record the phenomena they observe. Like the inventors of the Industrial Revolution, which they also learn about, Class 8 students discover for themselves the chemical and electrical laws, which were at the heart of the dawning of a new industrial age.

Students in Class 8 also learn about phenomena that shape the geography of the world we live in. Meteorology impacts not only the form of the world we live in, but also affects where and how we as humans are able to thrive.

Class 8 students continue to study the human form through their study of Anatomy, this time looking at the bones, muscles, and skin of their own bodies. Class 8 studentents are transforming physically as well as emotionally, and now is the time for them to look at themselves more deeply and with greater appreciation.

In Mathematics, Algebra takes another step forward as quadratic equations are learned, while Solid Geometry reintroduces Class 8 students to the harmonious beauty of the Platonic solids. Students model these forms in clay, construct them out of paper, and try to visualize them in three dimensions. As in Class 7, the students continue to develop, practice, and review their Math skills in thrice-weekly classes throughout the year.

In Language Arts, students continue to broaden their repertoire of genres. They read modern literature and study the concepts, plots, characters, symbolism, etc. of the many great works by authors such as Chaucer and Shakespeare. They compose short stories and poems, and read novels and epics.

Specialty Subjects

Visual Arts
Students in Class 8 learn to free-sketch, working with various media, including chalk, pastel, watercolour, and ink.

In painting lessons, one should do nature moods—sunrise and sundown should be distinguished from one another. All these things should be distinguished from one another. The children should know the difference between elements that are explicitly attributed to painting versus sculptural elements in painting.

Students increase the depth and range of color in their paintings by using the “veil painting” method. Students also work in the polarities of dark and light by exploring black and white drawings.

In Class 8, speaking, reading, and writing continue to be practiced, but a real-life application of learning a foreign language is now applied. Students look at where in the world French is spoken and how and why languages enrich our life. French culture is studied in numerous creative ways, with the hope that the students will travel and use their French in the future.

Class 8 students begin using electric sewing machines. Machine safety, threading, tension, identifying parts, changing the needle, and winding the bobbin are all part of the discussion and practice in handwork. All students have hands-on experience with pattern layout, straight of grain binding, simple sewing pattern alteration, and proper pinning and cutting of clothing. In keeping with the theme of the Industrial Revolution studied in the fall, the students work assembly-line fashion pinning: measuring and sewing the different stages in the sewing project.

Class 8 students play many sports and practice the skills and drills associated with them. Physical fitness is emphasized.

Class Trips
Class 8 students participate in many trips. The fall may start with a week-long High Ropes Course or a 4-day canoe trip, for example, followed by a several-day snow camping\backpacking trip, and finishing off with a week-long year-end trip such as tall ship sailing, ocean kayaking, or horse packing.

Transitioning to High School

The Nelson Waldorf School holds a strong foundation in academia, ensuring for a smooth and successful transition to high school.  Teachers plan their assignments accordingly, in order to assist their students’ transition into secondary institutions. Students from the Nelson Waldorf School often receive awards for academic excellence at LV Rogers Secondary School, Nelson’s local high school.

Middle School Enrichment Programs

NWS has experiential-education initiatives, which are designed to bring more hands-on and project-based learning to students. Grades 6-8 have the opportunity to elect which activity they would like to be enrolled in for our Project Days Sessions, such as archery, drumming, sailing, jewellery making and rugby. Outdoor education also thrives within our middle school grades on and off campus. Students look forward to overnight rock climbing, canoeing, snowshoeing and hiking trips.

Project Days

Two times a year students can choose from about a dozen three day workshops held after main lesson times. These workshops are taught by parents, community members and teachers who are skilled in a particular craft or field and who are passionate about sharing what they know with adolescents. Depending on the activity and the set-up required students enrol in either one or two workshops for the week. At the end of the week, there is a school-wide assembly where students present each workshop and what they did.

Workshops in the past have included: metal casting, piano duets, lazure painting, wet felting, bookbinding, baking/cooking, outdoor survival skills, environmental art, songwriting, dance and choreography, Tai Chi, etc.

Outdoor Education

Middle School outdoor educationThe beautiful setting of the Nelson Waldorf School leads us naturally to focus on outdoor education as a major component of the curriculum through these middle-school grades. Middle School students are now ready for new challenges on every level: intellectual, artistic, and physical. Our Outdoor Education Program is geared to meet the needs for physical challenges, build skills, and develop group awareness. Each year the students have several outdoor events to look forward to, which may include:

  • Class 6: Two-night hiking trip to Kokanee Glacier Cabin, day trip to Cody Caves, year-end multi-day bike trip
  • Class 7: Multi-day ropes course; day trips including biking, snowshoeing, hiking; rock-climbing at Skaha Bluffs near Penticton.
  • Class 8: 4-day canoe trip on Slocan Lake, several day snow camping/backpacking trip, week-long year-end trip such as tall ship sailing, ocean kayaking, horse pack trip

Middle School Teachers

Carly Ristow

Class 6 Teacher

Solenn Vogel

Class 7 Teacher

Leah Vivian

Class 8 Teacher

Graham Muncaster

Class 9 Teacher

Debora Oese-Lloyd


Nelson Waldorf School