I’m looking to populate my sidebar with links to other great Waldorf resources. If you’ve got one that you love leave it in the comments below!
Over on my teaching blog I’ve been working on putting together resource materials to go along with teaching the Waldorf Fifth Grade Curriculum. I’ve put together a couple of nice packets of good information that teachers and homeschoolers alike might find useful.
Grade Five Basics includes all of the most basic information for teaching the Waldorf fifth grade curriculum.
- The Upper Grades Morning Verse
- A Grade Five Sample block Rotation
- A Grade Five Sample Weekly Schedule
- A Grade Five Sample Main Lesson Rhythm
- A Grade Five Curriculum Overview
- A Main Lesson Book Liner — to help keep main lesson bookwork straight
My Grade Five Botany Main Lesson Curriculum Guide gives a complete framework for helping teachers create their own inspired Botany Main Lesson blocks.
- Main Lesson 101 guide
- Dictation Guide
- Block Summary
- Primary Resources with Reviews
- Day-by-Day New Content Outline
- Samples of Student Main Lesson Book Pages
- Daily Dictations
- Class Reader Suggestion with Study Questions
- Sample Homework
- Ideas for Special Projects
- Main Lesson Book Evaluation Form Sample
Both of these downloads are available for a very affordable purchase price. Just $8 for the Basics pack and $20 for the Curriculum Guide. A free sample of the curriculum guide is also available if you just want to try it out.
I’ve also got lots of other information over on my teaching blog. Keep an eye over there, too.
The following review is written by Teri Olson, a homeschooling mama who was kind enough to share her experience and expertise here. Teri has used almost all of the available Waldorf homeschooling curricula, including using the Christopherus first grade curriculum twice. She found the resource invaluable — I hope you find her comments just as helpful.
Christopherus First Grade Syllabus is a wonderful resource, especially for those who have never taught a grades child before. The book is written by the delightful and knowledgeable Donna Simmons. I found the book helpful in making the transition from years of Kindergarten at home to a new rhythm including academic work. Although I veered from her material frequently to suit the needs of my children, and to follow the paths that spoke to me, the syllabus was still invaluable.
It is divided into 4 parts:
Practical Considerations (Materials, Rhythms, How to Teach, and Storytelling)
Subjects (Language Arts, Drawing, Painting, Modeling, Foreign Language, Science, Math, Music, Handwork)
The Syllabus (Blocks and Day-to-Day Lessons)
The Stories (Various Stories referred to in the Syllabus)
I found the Practical Considerations to be concise and quite helpful for a first-time teacher like myself.
The Subjects section gives an overview of each subject. For instance, in the Language Arts section she describes teaching introduction of letters, writing, and a very helpful list of chapter books which are found commonly at many libraries.
The Syllabus section lays out the blocks and day-to-day lessons in detail. She gives an overview of how to teach form drawing, however forms are not given, as she has another book dedicated to the subject. The syllabus presents engaging activities at the beginning of each block to reinforce what they are learning.
Language Arts begins with Letter Introduction. This is the best part of the book. She weaves a clever container story of a Prince and a Wise Woman who are on a journey. Along the way they hear and tell other stories (mostly Grimm), and pictures are drawn into the main lesson book, such as a goose for G. The vowels are introduced as feeling letters along the journey. Both of my children loved these blocks and even my third grader wanted to draw all the pictures again when her brother began first grade.
The Math blocks cover the quality of numbers and the four processes. Donna uses squirrels and nuts as her theme. Now, I do not oppose squirrels, especially since you could weave them with a nature block as well if you wish, but I find it very difficult to draw a squirrel. I really do. Gnomes are much easier to draw, and I think the children at this age get more excited about them. I used Marsha Johnson’s very magical first grade math blocks (available at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorfhomeeducators). Donna also provides a delightful math block which weaves a few fairy talesand the math processes together, providing more opportunity for reinforcement.
Additionally there are some ideas for music, natural science, and foreign language, but understandably not enough to teach these subjects without more resources.
Teri, thanks so much for sharing your expertise here. If any of my readers have experience with one of the homeschooling curricula commonly available, or anything else for that matter, and would like to contribute to this resource drop me a line using the contact link above.
A Path of Discovery is a curriculum resource written by Australian Waldorf teacher Eric Fairman. I have found his work to be inspiring and full of great ideas. From Bob and Nancy’s Bookshop website,
Eric Fairman is a delightfully creative (and amazingly well-organized!) Waldorf grade school teacher in Australia who has done us all a great service by publishing the lesson notes he has kept through the years. In this as in all the Path of Discovery books, you will find suggested lessons, examples of ways of presenting the subject matter, verses, poems, songs – and, most importantly, a priceless amount of support and inspiration.
He has written a volume for each grade, in addition to an overview of the math curriculum and a book titled Food, Nutrition and Health that is dedicated to the eighth grade chemistry block. The books are affordably priced (just $21.00 each) and provide a wonderful framework for each block.
When I taught 7th grade I used A Path of Discovery as a resource and found it quite helpful when it came to planning the block. Though there is a fair amount of information in each book, I did not find the information so thorough that it could exist on its own. Instead, I mostly used A Path of Discovery as a planning resource and then I gathered information from other resources to provide the content of the block. All through my teaching I found this to be necessary. There were certain books that were excellent at providing the framework for a block, giving me enough information to know what to look for at the library. If you’re looking for a book that you’ll be able to open up to page one and begin teaching from, A Path of Discovery is not it. I never found it satisfying to teach in this manner, though, and I enjoyed the search for information.
What A Path of Discovery does very well, though, is provide inspiring, interesting ways to work with the material. As Fairman describes his experience teaching the block to his students he describes activities that they did that helped to bring the material in a new, interesting and holistic way. There are any number of books at the public library that can provide factual information for every block, but resources that inspire new and creative ideas of working with material are few and far between and these are the Waldorf-specific resources that are worth spending a little extra on.
At least in the upper grades, A Path of Discovery does not provide material on every block that must be taught in the year. The seventh grade book, for example, covers Chemistry, Physiology, and Physics, in addition to child development information, verses and poems, a reading list, block test samples, a bibliography and information on a few other various topics including morse code, Pythagoras and Thales. It does not, though, cover Astronomy, Algebra, History or Creative Writing, blocks that are important and should be covered in seventh grade. What it does cover, though, it does quite well and if you are a teacher who finds the sciences to be a weak spot, A Path of Discovery can help you find the new, inspiring and interesting way to bring the sciences to your students.
Live Education! — I have not had any experience using the Live Education! materials, but I have met one of the creators of the curriculum and by all counts he has created a curriculum that is quite in keeping with Steiner’s indications. Live Education! is billed as the most pure Waldorf homeschooling curriculum. From their site, “Live Education! is for the Waldorf purist. Main lesson directions and guides are included with artistic work and are oriented towards training the parent to be a home school class teacher.” If you are a homeschooling parent who views your homeschooling journey as an opportunity to enrich your own education while you work with your child, explore Live Education!.
Included as a part of the curriculum are consultations with trained Waldorf teachers, as extra support. These consultations are an important part of Live Education’s program and the curriculum materials are not available without the consultations. The idea is that even Waldorf teachers rely on their community of educators for support, and Live Education! works to provide that for homeschoolers.
Live Education! does not provide a day-to-day template of what should be covered. Instead, it gives a flexible, sequential curriculum that can be adapted to the family’s needs. Some teachers will spend more time on some lessons and less on others. Live Education’s curriculum allows for that individuality in a creative, inspiring way.
The best way to learn more about this curriculum is to go to the website, interact with their teachers and read their testimonials. There are also plenty of experienced homeschoolers with experience to share on one of the Waldorf homeschooling email lists, which you can find here.
They offer complete curricula packages for kindergarten through eighth grade in addition to seminars, newsletters and a “community center” forum. It seems that the complete curriculum is a bit pricier than some other programs, though despite the fact that Live Education! lists their price right on the website, other homeschooling curricula do not, so it was difficult to compare.
As a teacher in a Waldorf school, I actually have little experience with any of the complete Waldorf curriculum resources that are out there. In my training we were taught that ideally the teacher crafts the curriculum entirely from scratch, following Rudolf Steiner’s guidelines and his or her own intuition about the students’ needs. This is not always possible, though, and with the tremendous amount of work required of the Waldorf teacher, I did, every now and then, use one of these resources in my work, and it was a great time-saver. These resources are even more valuable for the homeschooling parent who has undertaken the arduous task of teaching multiple children, usually without undergoing a training. Here’s a list of the curricula that I know of. Individual reviews will follow.
If you have used any of these resources and would like to share your experience here, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I first began teaching at a Waldorf school I quickly found that there were resources for teaching that everyone used. Usually the not-to-be-missed resource titles were passed down from teacher to teacher, as each one of us shared with the teacher of the class behind us what worked, what didn’t, and what resources we couldn’t have lived without. All through I was so grateful for the benevolence of those teachers who shared the fruits of their labors with me and I was more than happy to share my experiences with the teachers who were behind me.
I wondered, though, if there might come a time when I would be undertaking an adventure through the grades again, perhaps this time without the support of a veteran teacher just one step ahead of me. Because of this fear, I made every effort to take detailed notes all the way through (sometimes more successfully than others) making sure that even if I wasn’t so good about taking notes on the exact content we studied, I at least had the titles of those few valuable resources.
In recent months I have become a part of a Waldorf homeschooling community that is composed not of teachers following each other in a neat little line, but of parents, doing their best, with limited resources, to provide this phenomenal education for their children. I’ve realized how lucky I am to have my little store of notes, however cryptic or sketchy they may be.
I’ve realized also, though, that there are a lot of people out there with a lot of really good information, and they’re all too willing to share.
It is with all of these thoughts in mind that I begin this blog. My intent is to post my own recommendations for books, toys and curriculum resources and hopefully to collect some of that worldly Waldorf wisdom that is out there into one place. I’d love for people to offer to contribute — writing up a little summary of their resources at the end of each block.
These will be real reviews written by real people who have real lives that have been shaped by the resources that we post here. Our advice is tried and true and it is offered to the community of Waldorf mothers, fathers, parents and teachers.