- Ancient civilizations through Greece
- Reading, grammar, and composition
- Freehand geometric drawing
- Arithmetic, including decimals
- Geography of the United States, North America
- Botany, through descriptive studies of the plant families, from simple algae to flowering plants
- Singing, choral singing, and sight singing, continuing music theory
- Recorder playing in trios and quartets
- String Ensemble
- Four-needle knitting
- Foreign languages
- Physical education, including Waldorf-style Greek Olympics
The circle of understanding widens
Many consider grade five to be the golden age of childhood. In general, the children are comfortable with their place in the world. They're happy to cooperate. They've emerged whole and strong from the 9-year change, and the tumult of puberty has yet to erupt. Even their physical proportions are balanced. Their beauty fairly glows.
Having heard the creation stories of the Old Testament and Norse Mythology, the children learn an overview of many different cultural histories through a study of ancient civilizations. In fifth grade we step out onto the stage of history as we study classical Greece and the foundations it laid for Western Civilization. We also continue widening the circle of geographic studies and venture into botany. In math, our work with fractions enlarges to include decimals.
This year students review fractions and continue to practice all previous arithmetic material. Decimal fractions are introduced, first working with concepts, and then moving on to learning and practicing performing the four operations with decimals.
Decimal logic allows us to introduce the metric system. We do mental math daily, learning to calculate quickly and accurately with ever more complicated numbers and situations. "I have a number that I divide by 25, then add 8, then divide by 2, and the answer is 6. What is my number?"
We begin the formal study of geometry, beginnning with concepts arising from the circle, and using mathematic terminology.
Fifth-grade students review all the parts of speech, including prepositional phrases, and continue learning verb tenses. We learn to identify subjects and predicates in various sentences. Students write their own compositions based on stories told in class. They begin the basics of note-taking and proofreading. Spelling work continues with words arising out of the main lesson. Solo projects help the children master main lesson topics as they develop independent work habits.
We expand our geographic knowledge beyond our home state to North America, which includes Canada and Mexico along with the United States of America—its four regions, major mountain chains, water systems, adjoining countries, neighboring oceans, natural resources, and regional folklores. We learn the Pledge of Allegiance, national anthem, and other national songs.
Last year we studied animals; this year we observe plants. (We’re moving closer to the earth—next year we’ll study minerals.) Students gather specimens from various plant families for drawing, observation, and discussion. The children, caught up as they are in processes of growth and transformation, come to understand similar dynamics in the plant’s progression from seed to roots to stems to leaves and sepals, ending in flower and fruit—a new seed.
The students learn to draw classic Greek, Egyptian, and Indian forms such as the “Greek key” or “running dog.” Weekly painting instruction draws upon main lesson content. Singing, recorder, and strings are part of the weekly schedule.
Our studies of mythology dovetail with the histories of ancient civilizations. India, Persia, Babylonia, Egypt, and Greece come alive through classics of ancient literature from the Ramayana to the Odyssey. Children contribute ideas of their own in blocking and planning the set for the class play, which is often based on one of the stories from ancient civilizations.
Eurythmy continues with more complicated forms and verses. Much of the content relates to main lesson material.
Weekly movement lessons include training for the spring’s Olympic games, with the emphasis on healthy physical development, agility, balance, and coordination. Children throw the discus and javelin, wrestle and run. In the spring we meet with other Waldorf fifth graders to assemble into city-states and join in the games, which emphasize collaboration, cooperation, and doing one’s personal best.