Composition from Outlines, Study of Plots and Characters, Grammar, Speech and Drawing, Calculations with Fractions and Decimals, Geometric Drawing, Botany, Ancient Cultures, Greece, North American Geography, Mandarin, Spanish, Knitting Socks, Woodwork, String Ensemble, Choir, Recorder, Movement and Games (Pentathlon Training), Painting, Drawing, Modeling.
The fifth grade has often been referred to as the heart of childhood. The fifth grade child has established himself solidly in space and time by the fifth grade, and puberty is still a year away for most of the children, making this the most harmonious time in a child’s development. Up until this time, subjects have been introduced in a more personal and pictorial nature, but beginning in fifth grade, students are capable of experiencing temporal concepts emerging from sequences of events. Thus the children begin their formal studies of history and geography as subjects. Human history tells of human striving and deeds in a way that helps the children understand the nature of the human being. Geography, on the other hand, involves them in contemplating the world outside of them, in ever widening distances from their homes.
The study of ancient history begins with the cradles of civilization in ancient India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece. The tableau of human history reveals the work of human beings in transforming the earth, creating written languages, searching for answers to spiritual riddles, and building great cultures whose contributions have been the foundations for our own civilizations. The children read translations of ancient poetry, study hieroglyphics, study the building of the temples and pyramids and incorporate ancient art into their own artistic work. Grammar blocks echo the theme of time as verb tenses are introduced in compositions.
By contrast, the children will study American geography, with its varied and vast representations of the earth’s physical features. Geography will take the children away from their immediate surroundings and begin to introduce them to the use of natural resources and economic relationships among people living in various regions. A natural extension of the study of geography is the study of botany, the study of plant life and its relationship to the living earth. The students learn about the relationship of the plants to the earth and sun, how they change in the course of the year, and how they differ around the world, a step into the field of ecology. The whole evolutionary sequence of the plant kingdom from the lower to the higher plants is examined, in much the same way that the animal kingdom was studied in fourth grade.
In the mathematics blocks, the students will review fractions and learn about fractional equivalents, mixed numbers, reciprocals, and improper fractions. They will begin the study of decimals and decimal place. In addition, the children will now be able to begin free-hand geometric drawing as a result of their previous years of form drawing.
In Spanish and Mandarin, the children will add to their reading and writing skills, as well as hold short dialogs and give short talks which include descriptive language. The students may study a Sanskrit poem and learn to speak and write Greek phrases.
The fine and practical arts program will include clay modeling, carving, knitting a three-dimensional project (such as socks) draw geometric forms and form drawing, and continue their exploration of water color painting. Physical education will include an exciting competition with other Waldorf schools in the pentathlon sports of discus throwing, javelin throwing, shot put, and long jump, Greek wrestling and running. Three-part harmony is sung in choir and repertoire becomes more complex in string ensemble. Woodworking continues and a Circus Arts class is added to the Games and Movement curriculum.