The Green Curriculum in Waldorf Schools ~ Part IV October 06 2015

Waldorf Schools strive to co-exist in a profoundly felt, right relationship with the Earth throughout the grades, building inner habits that prepare children to be environmentalists on the deepest levels. The practices and experiences which engender these inner habits are embedded in all aspects of the Waldorf School curriculum from grade one to grade twelve. Here, we are exploring and highlighting some of the elements and ways in which environmental sustainability lives and breathes through each grade of the Waldorf curriculum. Below, we continue with Grade Four!

From Roots to Bloom: Green in Grade Four

Strong, willful experiences meet the fourth grader as they work their way through the ninth-year change. In epic tales of an imaginary world unlike our own, the sense of wonder and amazement kindled in early grades finds dramatic representation in Norse mythology: the stories impart spirited depictions of supernatural beings, gods, giants, elves and their animal friends and foes. The stories of mythology and poetry provide stirring personifications of animals, which encourage an interest and care for them that is too frequently under-cultivated in society today. Working with their hands, the children bring their pictures of the animal kingdom down to earth artistically, with clay modelling and other mediums. The children also begin to approach dynamic comparisons of human beings and animals, and explore the relationship between an animal’s form and the elements of their natural habitat.

The fourth grade offers many experiences of language, speech, and tempo, and deepens their connection to sound and rhythm, as well as marking the introduction of two-part singing and harmony. These new strides help develop finer sensibilities, whose subtlety will support them in many ways, including the development of a reverent inquiry into the natural world around them.

Fourth graders also extend their understanding of the natural world as they begin to study geography by exploring their local environment, hearing stories of far-off lands, and learning to represent three-dimensional space through map-making. Each of these activities strengthens the children’s sense for nature as a totality, supporting an experience of holism, interconnection, and ecology. Many schools include an orienteering component to the fourth grade’s work with simple cartography, enabling them to develop agility and discernment as they further cultivate their experiences of nature, her elements, and biodiversity.

- Sarah Hearn