Elementary Program (Grades 1-5)
Many teaching methods grow from the question: How can the student accumulate the most information at the earliest possible age? We ask a different question: How can we best engage students at each distinct age and inspire a lifelong love of learning?
Our deep and varied curriculum includes age-appropriate, rigorous academic work, as well as rich artistic experiences that combine to make learning an adventure, not a chore. In the classroom and in our natural surroundings, a classical education — science, math, social studies, humanities and the arts — is integrated and taught in an active and stimulating way. Students learn through stories and experiences that feed their senses, foster their creativity and lend a global perspective to their thinking. Everything from the introduction of the alphabet to the Pythagorean theorem is taught with depth and relevancy to our world.
Please scroll to view our curriculum for each grade below.
“Waldorf Education places the development of the individual child in the focal point.”- The International Conference on Education of the United Nations Educational and Scientific Cultural Organization -
Elementary Curriculum Overview
In the first grade, we strengthen students’ foundation for literacy and numeracy. Letters are introduced in terms of both shape and sound through pictorial and phonetic techniques. Our first graders spend a lot of time writing and forming letter shapes while practicing the associated sounds — the basis for reading. The groundwork for math is also established as we introduce the four arithmetic processes — addition, subtraction, multiplication and division — most often through math games.
First grade is filled with fairy tales, folk tales and nature stories, as well as circle games, movement and mental math practice. Every activity is designed to spark imagination and interest. First grade is an important time as students adapt to the structure of an academic curriculum and develop self-discipline, while channeling curiosity and creativity in new ways. To help ease this transition, each first grade student is paired with an eighth grade “buddy.” They’ll have special time together reading and playing games. Students will also enjoy field trips with their buddy — one tradition is to go apple picking together in the autumn.
In the second grade, students continue to focus on reading and writing. As their work gains in complexity, so too do the stories that fill the second grade classroom. Legends, fables and multicultural folklore illustrate examples of moral conduct and parallel the more sophisticated social relationships that second graders form. Nature stories are also an important part of the second grade curriculum, and a foundation for science lessons and nature observations on and around our campus.
In math lesson blocks, second graders build on the numeracy skills learned in first grade. The focus now is on number patterns, forms and values. And, as always, art and movement are part of each learning opportunity. For example, multiplication tables are taught not with repetitive worksheets, but through active, rhythmic games to facilitate memorization and to help develop physical coordination and spatial awareness.
Third graders deepen their literacy skills and delve more deeply into the world of writing. Now is the time for a more intense focus on spelling, composition, grammar, punctuation and parts of speech. Cursive writing is also introduced this year, which recent studies indicate aids in reading, retention and even idea generation. Legends and stories from the Hebrew books of the Bible are the stories shared in the third grade. We also investigate ancient civilizations and their contributions to weights and measures. In math lesson blocks, we progress to multiplication of higher numbers and other more complex processes.
Third-grade students have a better capacity to understand their world, their relationship to the environment, and the natural rhythms that divide days, weeks and seasons. As a result, we introduce main lesson blocks that center on farming, housing and clothing, time and the calendar. There is also a special trip this year as the third grade spends a week together living on a beautiful farm, engaging in hands-on learning about agricultural practices, farm structures and, of course, farm animals. Another important milestone in the third grade is that students begin learning a string instrument and start instruction in either the violin or cello.
The fourth-grade classroom is filled with active learners and independent thinkers. Norse myths and sagas — stories of heroes, giants and brave adventurers who go out to explore the world — resonate with this group. Against the backdrop of these stories, the writing skills of composition, grammar and spelling are further honed.
Fourth-grade science blocks introduce zoology, allowing students to investigate the animal kingdom. We also introduce lesson blocks covering local history and geography with map studies and field trips to local historical sites, including Plimoth Plantation and Salem. In math lessons, fractions are introduced, while previous concepts are continually practiced. The fourth grade typically also joins together for a camping and bike trip with their teachers.
By the fifth grade, students are developmentally ready for more sophisticated work and greater academic rigor. The curriculum broadens to include the study of the ancient civilizations from India to Greece. Class teachers bring this work to life with stories and details that deepen students’ understanding while honing their research and library skills. Learning is enhanced with such class trips as the Museum of Fine Arts, to view their collections of art and artifacts from ancient civilizations. Students also are given a truly unique opportunity to experience the culture of Ancient Greece by training for and participating in the pentathlon, an Olympic competition that is held with other area Waldorf schools.
Fifth grade math lesson blocks include work with fractions, decimals and freehand geometry. In science, we move from the animal kingdom to the plant kingdom with our study of botany. These lessons are enhanced by our ability to study out of doors across the woodlands, wetlands and meadows of Moraine Farm. We also take short trips to study plant life in other ecosystems. Letter writing, composition and grammar are part of the curriculum, as well as physical and economic geography.