- Old Testament stories
- Reading and writing
- Form drawing
- Arithmetic, including measurements
- Practical studies of farming, house-building and skilled crafts
- Science through practical studies
- Recorder playing
- Major and minor modes
- Embroidery, knitting animals, weaving
- Foreign languages
- Physical education through games
The birth of individuality
Young children tend to relate to everything in the world around them. As they approach age 9, an awareness of their individuality dawns. These feelings can be uncomfortable, and a child can experience the feeling of being alone in the world. Individuality smacks of loneliness. There's a distinct if unarticulated sense of leaving behind a golden age.
Waldorf education addresses this transition with stories about an expulsion from paradise and activities that engage the children with the earth. Even grammar and arithmetic help accustom the children to their new relationship to the world.
The stories set the theme
Hebrew legends of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden really speak to children. Just as Adam and Even must till the earth and build their shelter, the children take great interest in gardening and shelter-building, and those become major projects for the year.
Third graders assume a new responsibility in the larger community: it's their job to collect food wastes from the classrooms and process it in the school's compost heap. They spread the compost on their gardens, sow seeds, grow plants, enjoy the harvest and put the scraps in the compost bucket. They see the completed cycle.
Grade three is also the year of construction. Teacher and children, with the help of parents, design and build a structure on the campus. Projects have included a stone wall, a toy shed, a wooden bridge, a treehouse, a gazebo and a playhouse constructed of stone and timber found on the campus.
In the classroom
All this building and doing can't be done without measurements. Math blocks introduce weights, volumes, lengths and time. Children learn their times tables by heart up to 12 x 12. The children work throughout the year on the four arithmetic processes. They review long division with remainders. They are introduced to double-digit multiplication.
The class's activities lend themselves to lively writing exercises. Children write short compositions from words pertaining to the main lesson story content. Their narratives present opportunities to differentiate between the four main parts of speech: nouns and verbs, adjectives and adverbs.
Cursive writing comes into its own this year on the basis of the form drawing work the children have been doing for years.
Arts and language
The arts augment studies all year long. Media include singing, dancing and diatonic recorder playing. Children model in beeswax and clay. They continue to paint with wet-on-wet watercolor, moving from "color stories" to form.
In movement, children continue to do rhythmic exercises and play games. The class may perform a play from the main lesson story content. Grade 3 often performs a play set in a French marketplace-en Francaise, naturellement.
At the end of the year, the children take an overnight trip to a farm.
As grade three comes to a close, tentativeness has give way to a newfound confidence borne of conceiving a project, planning it and doing it. Early childhood is behind them, and before them lie ever greater fulfillments.