Phenomenology is the hallmark of the Waldorf science curriculum. In the early grades, the children learn to observe and revere the natural world, exploring it on nature walks and through nature stories. In third grade, practical activities come to the forefront, but everything is experiential; nothing is analyzed. The relationship of the human being to the animal world is the study of fourth grade, and the relationship of the human being to the plant world is the study of fifth grade. In middle school, the science curriculum leads the students from experience to observation to judgment and finally, to understanding of scientific concepts.
In first and second grade, children enjoy nature walks and the teacher tells nature stories that are based in scientific fact. The themes of transformation and the relationship among humans, plants, animals and the life cycles of nature are explored through developmentally-appropriate stories told in a way that encourages further development of the child’s imagination.
In third grade, the study of farming, shelters, and clothing leads to practical experiences of the natural world. The interweaving of life on the earth and its creatures is studied. The children work in the garden and trace the development of food from seed to plant to plate. Studies of grains and animals lead to a basic understanding of the Earth's climatic regions. The children experience the cycles of the seasons through the eye of the farmer, and explore the interdependence of all life: mineral, plant, and animal. The children learn to recognize the gifts of the Earth, have gratitude, and learn to care for the Earth, themselves, and one another.
In fourth grade, the students find that the human being is the culmination of the animal world. The animals take a particular trait and specialize, while the human being, by virtue of remaining generalized, is able to do anything and everything the animals do, and many more things besides. The study of the human as a picture of the entire animal world leads the children to a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.