The Waldorf Third Grade

In the third grade, life takes on quite a different quality as the children begin to hear the stories of the Old Testament, their first introduction to history. These powerful stories closely parallel the child’s own experiences, whereby he or she has left behind the “paradise” of early childhood and is becoming more aware of good and evil.

Through an understanding of the role of the farmer, the children are led to the interrelationships of the four kingdoms of nature as they work together in harmony. Farming and gardening blocks are a great joy. Planting and harvesting vegetables, preparing soup, and putting vegetable tops on the compost pile, all bring back a sense of wonder and delight. Shelters of animals and humans, emphasizing different times and climates, give the children an understanding of humans’ creativity and their use of tools and materials. Children often make shelters as class projects, do some concrete work, plastering, or roofing. The practical arts of the home are given attention. Crocheting continues, and the students learn to design and crochet their own hats.

The third graders work on their reading and writing, taking great joy in the stories they write in their main lesson books. As they discover the school library, they delight in finding new books to read. Grammar study takes place with active involvement as the children act out doing words, naming words, and artistic words. This grammar study is carried into other lessons. Math becomes quite practical, too, and is taught as a tool for life. Telling time, making change with money, and measuring in cooking or in building all have their place. Because children of this age naturally have a feeling of awe and wonder for the world, they are alive to the magic of nature. Rather than bringing the leaf into the classroom to be scientifically studied, the children are told many stories about trees, conversations between trees and clouds, flowers, butterflies, and so on. The children also take walks to experience the majesty of nature.

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