The mind and the body are not separate; they function as one. Waldorf Educators believe that, for children, learning without movement can be difficult. Waldorf educators also deeply know and study the mind body connection in regards to learning. Nothing represents this Waldorf culmination of physical and intellectual togetherness quite like the Fifth grade Pentathlon.
Fifth grade students are transitioning in development. After having come to realize the isolated self in third grade, they have grown into this reality and are now ready to look at the world around them in an ordered sense (space and time) to better understand their place within that world.
When it comes to physical education, the students are ready to emerge gently from the world of cooperative-only games and into the world of individual competition – a necessary transition before the sixth grade introduction of team-based sports.
These mind and body elements of readiness combine with Main lesson teachings of history and culture. Class 5 studies ancient history stretching from 3000 BC to 300 BC beginning with ancient India, moving to Persian culture the Chaldeans, Hebrews, Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians and ending with Greeks.
So as the end of the Class five Main Lesson school year wraps up Greek History, the end of the Class 5 Physical Education school years ends with a five event Greek Pentathlon: discus, javelin, wrestling, long jump and running. In gym class throughout the year, students will have prepared for their individual events and then will compete in an all day Pentathlon festival with other regional Waldorf schools.
Here are all six of the Fifth Grade classes in the 2013, Ann Arbor Pentathlon, singing Glorious Apollo together for the first time.
Waldorf Education: A family Guide
In this discussion of Class 5 curriculum, our source material is Eugene Swartz’s Millennial Child website, the grade description from Eugene Waldorf School of Eugene, Oregon, and Waldorf Education, A Family Guide – Fifth Grade written by East Bay Waldorf School in El Sobrante, CA.
Main Lesson subjects expand in Grade 5 to include, History, Geography, and Botany in addition to Mathematics and Language Arts.
History: Class 5 studies ancient history stretching from 3000 BC to 300 BC beginning with ancient India, moving to Persian culture the Chaldeans, Hebrews, Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians and ending with Greeks. The children will read poetry and myths, create maps, study hieroglyphics, and sample arts and crafts of the various ancient peoples and work to create similar creations.
Botany: After studying zoology in Grade 4, fifth graders are ready to discover the plant world. They start by experiencing what is in their own world using all their senses and the focus is on the metamorphosis the plants experience in roots, stems, leaves, flowers and fruit. After understanding plant life found in their own environment, the students learn about vegetation in other parts of the world.
Geography: American geography is studied both physically and culturally, meaning the physical understanding of landscapes and mapping and make-up of mountains, rivers and prairies is linked with the way human life has been lived in each region such as how humans used natural resources, developed industry, and produced crops. Swartz describes this approach saying, “Students study Native American tribes that lived in varied environments, as well as the biographies of individuals who seem to exemplify a particular geographical setting. To further enrich the subject, we will learn regional poetry, tall tales and songs. We will learn something about the way our nation in governed.”
Math: Mathematics becomes more conceptual in grade 5 as students continue work on fractions and decimals and expand into basic geometric concepts.
Language Arts: Students continue to study language arts through composition, reading, writing, recitation of poetry and oral review of lessons. Grammar is delved into during this grade.
Music: Students continue in choral singing and playing their C-recorder flute along with progressing into more intermediate stringed instrument skills.
Physical education: This year students come together with other area Waldorf school to compete in a Greek Pentathlon which includes javelin, wrestling, and other historical events.
Special Subjects: Woodworking involves carving, knitting now uses four needles, form drawings and painting will relate to the study of Ancient History, Geography, Botany and Geometry. The study of Eurhythmy and Foreign Languages also continues.
Last week our sixth graders traveled to the Cincinnati Waldorf School to participate with 5 other schools in the inter-Waldorf School Medieval Games. This is a hands on experience of sixth grade curriculum, which studies Medieval history in depth.
Class Six children will study the rise and fall of Rome and the affect Greek and Roman culture had on European civilization up through the Middle Ages.
As the host of this year’s games, Cincinnati Waldorf says:”As students engage with these historic eras, they experience the shift from the Ancients’ poetic consciousness to the Medieval search for truth and development of modern scientific concepts, paralleling change in the sixth grade student. This study culminates in a two-day, Medieval Games beginning with a Medieval Feast featuring bards, musicians, food and live presentations by each sixth grade class.”
The competition includes sport such as jousting, archery, moat jumping, and tug-of-war. Here are some pictures from this year’s games!
So proud of all our students who share their many talents at Assembly. Here’s a wonderful video of Eighth graders, Patrick and Jackson, performing Haydn at our March Spring Garden Assembly. Great performance gentlemen!
For History, Class Six children will study the rise and fall of Rome and the affect Greek and Roman culture had on European civilization up through the Middle Ages. Swartz says, “[These studies are] appropriate for the sixth grader [who] now stands like an ancient Roman, solidly on the earth, and craves facts and their relationship to one another. Now we study history in relation to space and will make a time line to show events unfolding in chronological order.”
Language arts tie into Roman times with the study of grammar and its roots in the ancient Roman language Latin. The students will also expand their world by studying World Geography and Foreign Language and culture. Singing and Orchestra, Handwork, Woodworking, Eurhythmy, Painting and Sports also continue to enrich and mold the daily curriculum for Class Six.
According to Swartz, Physics becomes the “introduction to laboratory science, and therefore provides a different experience from the natural science/natural history [studies from earlier grades]. No longer is it sufficient for the children to “take my word” about natural phenomena — now they must see it, feel it, and hear it for themselves!”
But Natural Sciences are still studied in the form Astronomy and Mineralogy. In this regard Swartz says: “’Natural Science’ divides in two in the sixth grade. Astronomy will draw our attention to heaven, and, as a counterbalance to such imaginative soaring, Mineralogy will draw us into the earth’s depths to view its many marvels. The skills that the sixth graders develop [in geometry] with compass and straight edge will be put to use again as we depict the arcs and circles that describe the paths of the stars in different quadrants of the sky.”
Geometry takes literal form through geometrical drawings with great focus on “neatness and accuracy.” A picture is worth a thousand words! Here is a beautiful example of the study of geometry in Class Six.
To see more of these inspiring images of Grade 6 work, visit this page on Pinterest.
And finally, in addition to Geometry, Class Six students, as Swartz says, “…will begin reviewing the arithmetical concepts of earlier grades and honing … skills in the four operations, fractions, decimals and simple formula (area and perimeter of regular figures).”
To learn more about the curriculum of Class Six at Spring Garden Waldorf, please visit the primary source of this article and speak with our Admissions Director who can get you in touch with Spring Garden’s Class Six teacher.
Thank you to parent, Julie Fields, for making this picture montage video of the Grade 8 students woodworking over Spring Break. The students have taken a log that was dropped in the field at school at the start of the school year and they are making chairs out of the log using nothing but hand tools and man powered machines. They will make enough chairs during the school year for each graduating child to sit on at graduation and take home with them.