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Eugene Waldorf School

Curriculum, Third Grade

Quickened physical growth takes place during this transition period in which the age of dream is passing and a new age is beginning to dawn for the children. Now there is a shifting emphasis as the child's relation to the world around her changes: to the extent to which the child feels separate from the world she seeks knowledge of it and her studies will now have a more realistic, practical character.

In this transition to realism, social studies and practical arts are now introduced into the main lesson. The children learn how the kingdoms of nature mutually support and complete one another, visit a farm and work in the school garden for concrete experience of the dependence of man on plants and animals. They study shelter and house building, contrasting their home with those of other times and peoples and climates. All teaching is done through the teacher's spoken word and direct experience from excursions, thus keeping the learning warm and human.

Arithmetic becomes practical, applied to "real life situations" such as measuring, cooking, telling time, and using money. Rhythmic reciting and stepping of tables continues with added mental gymnastics.

Stories and poems of the Old Testament dealing largely with real persons and happenings whose drama parallel the 8-year-old's own experience are the children's first introduction to history. Their own illustrated book soon emerges from the Old Testament drama with stories retold in the children's own words. Grammar studies continue, often expressing parts of speech in colors suitable to their nature. Spelling receives much attention. Painting, drawing, and modeling continue in connection with all main lessons rather than as a separate period. In music they begin to learn notation. Sewing skills are built upon and useful articles are crocheted and knitted.

Unifying these first three years is the child's need for living pictures, requiring the teacher to become an artist at knowledge, engaging the activity of her own being, and developing in the child the capacity for inward picturing out of which at a later age thought is born. Stories here are the teacher's chief means of making learning live.

(The above description is paraphrased from Teaching as a Lively Art, by Marjorie Spock.)

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