5th Grade Academics


The language arts and history curriculum of Grade 5 is based on the ancient civilizations of India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece. The creation stories and mythologies of these civilizations are told. Students study the geography of the lands and how they shaped diverse cultures. The daily life, history, architecture, religion and spirituality, science and mathematics of these cultures are studied to give the children a sense of the roots of modern consciousness and how it has evolved, as well as the variety and richness of the family of humankind..

History is, for the first time, a morning lesson subject, apart from being presented as story. The story of human deeds and strivings brings the child to a deeper experience of her/his own humanity. Historical studies trace development through the great ancient civilizations of the past, leading the child to see modern folk as heirs to an evolutionary process that the child as an individual will help carry forward, through a pictorial-artistic expression. Ancient Greece, where the human being achieved a balance between science and art, physical skill and the beautiful, life on earth and the life of the spirit, stands at the border between the study of mythology and history. The various Greek city-states are contrasted and compared, giving a picture of different human temperaments. Biographies of noble Greek philosophers, statesmen and leaders, from Solon to Alexander, are studied. The five pentathlon events, running, jumping, wrestling, discus and javelin, are practiced all year, in preparation for the Greek Olympics event held each spring, with children from other Waldorf schools. The Greek ideals of beauty and grace and truth are honored in these games.

Geography now moves into North American geography, leading the child out into ever wider spaces. Aspects covered include the contrasting ways people in different regions lived, songs of the different regions, folk dances, customs, legends, history, architecture, crafts and cookery of these regions and peoples, along with a look at the great physical features of the earth in each region and the natural resources therein, to build a vivid picture of our vast country and continent.

Plant study is taught in relation to the whole earth organism. Starting with the form of the archetypal plant, first observed by Goethe, the principle of metamorphosis of plants is introduced. Familiar plants in our own environment, contrasted and compared, lead to a look at vegetation in other parts of the earth. Botany is taught including both scientific observations and the poetic/artistic interpretations.

Arithmetic is a review and strengthening of Grade 4’s introduction to fractions and a further deepening into the world of decimals. Practical application of decimals, in work with money, the metric system and measurement are introduced. The wonders of number patterns and relationships are explored, mirroring many of the great discoveries first made in the ancient civilizations studied. The Egyptians worked with geometry, and the Greeks refined it much further, and thus begins our geometry work during form drawing class, with freehand constructions of various forms, as a preparation to next year’s use of compass.