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Lower Grades

a strong foundation to begin their educational journeys

Our lower school grades curriculum strives to support the young child in their rapid development, and incorporates the arts, academics, movement, nature, and more to provide a well-rounded, inspired education.

Children sitting together at opening ceremony

The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility; these are the very nerve of education.

Rudolf Steiner

single green oak leaf


Beginning with fairy tales, and progressing to Greek, Egyptian, and Mesopotamian history, grades first through fifth are marked with their own themes, motifs, and academic goals. The lower school Waldorf curriculum provides children with a strong, solid foundation on which to begin their educational journeys.


Main Lesson and Language Arts
As the children move from the work of play in kindergarten, they show a budding interest in more formal learning, while still living in a dreamy and imaginative world. In first grade, the introduction to writing and reading is brought in a lively pictorial way through fairy tales, folktales and/or nature stories. Children learn the names of sounds of letter through the experience of story, movement, and speech, followed by phonemic manipulation, rhyming words and word families. Reading evolves throughout the year, and the writing of familiar poems and verses support this process. Children are soon able to read and write words and simple sentences. Regular engagement with poetry and drama further develop phonemic awareness and clear speech.

The world of numbers is introduced through exploring the quality of numbers, often seen in nature, and then using Roman and Arabic numerals. The four processes (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) are introduced through imaginative stories, the use of manipulatives, and written equations, and worked with in-depth throughout the year. In first grade, rhythmic clapping, stepping and marching while counting, and other movement activities is central to the experience of learning times tables, and mathematics in general.

Subject Classes and Activities
Singing and the introduction of the pentatonic flute provide a musical experience for the first grader. Our subject classes extend this work and include Handwork, Modeling, Painting, Music, Form Drawing, and Spanish. The children also spend time playing outside and exploring nature through regular walks, crafts, and special projects

Main Lesson and Language Arts
As the children move into second grade, they are ready for more challenge and a quicker pace of learning. A running theme through the grade is the stories of fables, saints, and sages from around the world, inspiring a desire to do good works and deeds, and to treat developing friendships with respect and care. Using these stories, the teacher deepens the study of language arts and continues to develop writing and reading skills with further work on phonics, sight words, and writing simple compositions. Word families, phonics, digraphs, basic vowel patterns, and early grammar concepts are introduced and worked with extensively throughout the year. Beautiful handwriting is encouraged and practiced regularly, and cursive may be introduced in second grade. The clarity and beauty of language continues to be developed through poetry, drama and speech verses. Typically, the first class play is learned by heart and performed for parents and peers.

In math, vertical addition and subtraction, and place value is introduced and explored, and application and understanding of the four processes and multiplication tables is further deepened. Daily practice in math is essential, and mental math techniques, movement, and other methods are applied regularly to enhance the curriculum. The wonder of number patterns is expanded through geometric forms and patterns as well.

Subject Classes and Activities
Musical work in singing and the pentatonic flute develops to a new level in second grade, and singing is a regular aspect of the school day. Nature studies include stories, artistic experiences, crafts, and walks in all seasons. Our subject classes extend this work and include Handwork, Modeling, Painting, Games, Eurythmy, Form Drawing, Spanish and Gardening.

Main Lesson and Language Arts

The third grade is often called the turning point of childhood. At this point in development, children are transitioning out of the dreamy state of their early years, and entering the real world as they never have before. This time of change can be uncomfortable, difficult, and uncertain for children, and in Waldorf curriculum, is called “The Nine Year Change.”

Our curriculum meets the nine year old child in this experience in a variety of ways. Farming, gardening, cooking, and animal care give the child an opportunity to actively engage in practical and meaningful work. Shelter building and textile work further develop this experience of being a human in the world, even as the child searches to find a “home” on the earth. The rich and dramatic stories of the Old Testament mirror the third grader’s soul journey as they may feel cast out of paradise and on a quest to find their place in the world. Dramatic reenactments and artistic renderings emerge from these stories.

Grammar concepts, especially the parts of speech, are introduced, as the child is now ready to understand and work with more complex, specific areas of study. Self-generated writing can also develop to new heights, and children are often asked to apply their skills in language arts to writing about their experiences and observations. Reading chapter books bring many children into the joy of reading independently, and students regularly review and are presented with new language arts material. Speech exercises continue regularly, and third graders often perform a play that is longer in length and more complex or serious in its subject.

The focus of mathematics corresponds to the theme of practical work in the world, as measurement, time and money are introduced and experienced in the classroom activities of cooking, building and gardening. Long division and multiplication are a focus of the year, as well as more complex addition and subtraction methods. Skills and concepts previously learned are continuously reviewed through mental math and other exercises, and overall, skills in mathematics are deepened and sharpened throughout third grade.

Subject Classes and Activities
Singing now includes rounds and the diatonic flute is introduced during the year. Our subject classes extend this work and include Handwork, Modeling, Painting, Games, Eurythmy, Form Drawing, Spanish and Gardening. In addition, the third grade class may have the opportunity to study the Hebrew language for a portion of the year.

Main Lesson and Language Arts
In fourth grade, the children are emerging from the nine year change and now stand independently in the world. Curiosity grows, and a desire to learn more about the world in which one lives deepens as well. Local Geography and History are introduced, and children discover their surroundings through map making, field trips, and through topical stories and activities. Through Norse mythology tales, the fourth grade experiences courage, love, sadness, and transformation. In the sciences, students study zoology and deepen their love of the animal kingdom.

Language skills are further developed within grammar and composition writing including verb tenses, spelling, punctuation, and use of the dictionary. Report writing is introduced this year, as well as basic paragraph and essay structure, and basic research techniques. Students read independently, and class readers are regularly assigned to bolster reading comprehension and class discussion.

In Math, fractions are the main subject of the year, and are studied rigorously through hands-on activities, artistic experiences, and practical in-class work time. All aspects from previous years continue to be developed and mastered, including place value, long division, complex application of the four process, and multiplication tables.

Subject Class and Activities
Speech, poetry, singing, diatonic flute and drama continue to be part of everyday curriculum, and subject class include Handwork, Modeling, Painting, Games, Eurythmy, Form Drawing, Spanish and Gardening. In fourth grade, students begin Strings class, and have the opportunity to play violin, viola, or cello.

The lower grades curriculum includes a multitude of artistic activities that support the inner and academic development of each and every child. Form drawing is a special aspect specific to the lower grades, and includes drawing forms that encourage a sense of balance, spatial awareness, and symmetry. As well, form drawing sets the foundation for cursive handwriting, and eventually leads into the geometry curriculum found in the upper grades. Watercolor painting is an important aspect of the Waldorf art curriculum, and students regularly draw with crayons and pencils, and often model with clay or beeswax with the guidance of their class teacher. Seasonal crafts and projects are worked on throughout the year, and subject classes often incorporate various artistic mediums to support their curriculum as well.


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