The Golden Year
Developmental Picture of the Student
Fifth grade is referred to as the “golden year” because students at this age are enthusiastic about learning, eager for new challenges and capable of hard work and creativity. A sense of self-consciousness emerges, yet they remain confident and harmonious with their surroundings. They develop an ordered sense of space and time, and hold a deeper understanding of personal responsibility and the ethics of right and wrong.
How the Curriculum Meets the 5th Grader
The students learn the history of ancient civilizations including India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece. These histories of human deeds and strivings present the child with a broad picture of the diverse experience of humanity. They study the mythologies and religions of these cultures and discuss their philosophies of creation, life and death. Working with early forms of writing, geometry and architecture, the fifth graders experience, in part, the roots of modern culture. Through these classical stories, students develop inner imagination and empathy with an ancient world that is different from their own.
Fifth grade also marks an important learning transition out of mythology into history. Through study of the ancient Greeks, students develop an appreciation for the balance between skill and beauty, art and science, earthly life and spirituality. Studying the biography of Alexander the Great marks a substantial shift from mythology to documented history. The students enter the world of human leaders, historical campaigns and real world events.
In mathematics, decimal notation used in the four operations is introduced while students continue with fractions, multi-digit problem solving and word problems. They also learn freehand geometry to gain a sense of the structure of space and delineated form. Studying botany nurtures the fifth grader’s dawning acceptance of the beauty of the world as they balance scientific observation with aesthetic appreciation.
The year ends with the biography of Alexander the Great – a compelling story of a human leader engaged in an epic quest of self-determination.
In studying North American geography, students examine how and why people live and work in specific regions. Students select one of the 50 states to profile in a research paper and verbal presentation on the state’s history. They discuss how soil, landscape and location influences cultures. Their exploration of Native American history includes the people’s practical, cultural and spiritual relationship to the land.
In weekly gym class, students practice the five events of a Greek Pentathlon: discus, javelin, wrestling, long jump and running. In the spring the class participates in an all day Pentathlon festival and competition with other regional Waldorf schools. This is the culmination of the student’s physical individualism before they enter, in sixth grade, the new dynamics of team-based sports.
5th GRADE CURRICULUM COMPONENTS
- Science & Mathematics – Botany, Decimals, Freehand Geometry
- Language Arts – Greek Mythology, Independent Writing, Reading Vocabulary and Grammar
- Geography & History – Ancient Civilizations, including India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece, North American Geography, Native American Cultures
- Art – Painting and Drawing, Sculptural Modeling
- World Languages – German and Spanish provide cultural exposure, develop memory, language, translative thinking and vocabulary skills.
- Handwork – Four Needle Knitting
- Music – Instrumental Music: Violin or Guitar, Diatonic C-flutes, Music Literacy, Choral Music
- Gym & Eurythmy – Individual physical development in Pentathlon: discus, javelin, long jump, wrestling, running, Eurythmy for balance, poise, alertness and synchronous movement
- Field Trips & Community Events – Pentathlon: one day in Austin, Texas with students from Austin Waldorf School; all presenting their physical accomplishments in a classic Greek sporting event with rituals focused on principles of Beauty & Truth, 5th grade play: typically based on one of the myths presented in the study of Ancient Cultures or North American History.
LIFE SKILLS AND HOMEWORK EXPERIENCED IN 5th GRADE
- Author Topic Statements and write rough drafts; present and incorporate revisions to book reports and a research paper
- Organize and Study take home any unfinished work and prepare for weekly spelling tests
- Complex Memorization of the lines and actions for parts in the 5th grade play
- Develop Mastery in practice of music for string instruments (Violin or Guitar) and in physical events for Pentathlon
- Model Academic Responsibility including punctuality with deadlines