Homeschooling

Resources for a Waldorf-inspired Fifth Grade

I am right in the thick of figuring out the resources I will be using for my fifth grader this year. I’m sharing about resources (click here to see my resources planned for first grade) and honestly it’s all still a bit messy for fifth grade. For one thing, I am concerned about libraries being available this fall and winter, and for another thing, I have charter school money to spend, so I am buying A LOT of resources and right now they’re all over my house and don’t necessarily make a lot of sense. So, with that said, let’s dig in, shall we!? ūüėČ

Ancient Civilizations 

When Rudolph Steiner started his first school, he directed his teachers to teach ancient history in fifth grade. That has turned into a pretty specific scope and sequence for most Waldorf schools. There’s a fair amount of confusion and debate around whether it’s appropriate to even teach 11-year-olds history – Steiner said to hold off on true history until after age 12 – or whether these ancient civilizations should be taught through their myths.

I honestly don’t really get it and feel that I’m pretty close to deciding to use a non-Waldorf resource to teach ancient civilizations to my kiddo. I bought several resources – some Waldorf and some not – and am personally drawn to the non-Waldorf ones. So, I will likely be using History Quest: Early Times by Pandia Press – both the book and the study guide. I like that it’s written for homeschoolers, I like that it’s secular, I love the narrative writing style, and I like that the study guide gives me hands-on project ideas, recipes and even suggestions for summaries my child can write into her main lesson book so I don’t have to spend five million hours on Pinterest to make these blocks hands-on.

I will be supplementing History Quest heavily and honestly this year will probably be a strong blend of Waldorf and Charlotte Mason styles as I have many wonderful living books for my child to read independently and for us to read together. Last year I picked a book per block for her to read independently and that worked wonderfully for us. She actually ended up reading multiple of my book picks per block – though her timing did not always line up exactly with what we were studying. So I’ve been arming myself with many, many books for her to choose from about ancient India, Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, Greece and more

History Quest is not designed to be used in blocks, so that will be my task over the next couple weeks to see how I can plug these lessons into a block format, which we really enjoy using.

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FYI – this post contains affiliate links.

Other resources I’ll be using during our ancient civilizations blocks include:

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I realize this list looks completely bonkers. It is. My job now is to winnow down what we will be using and how we will be using it. What will I read aloud? What will my child read independently? What can be shared with all three children as a part of circle time? What will I expect a book report from and what will be read just for fun? What stories will I use in our main lessons? This is all yet to be sorted out. Planning is a messy process!

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Language Arts 

We will continue using main lesson books as our primary vehicle for language arts. My kiddo writes story summaries as a part of most lessons and we are working toward more independence in that area. I will also be continuing to teach her spelling with All About Spelling and this year I purchased the fifth grade Easy Grammar for skills practice. We will also be using this Word Ladders book for skills practice.

I’m excited for us to explore more creative writing this year, and I’ve found several great suggestions for these types of projects on the Waldorf Inspirations Web site. Just as an example, I’ll be having my fifth grader read the short books Our Little Athenian Cousin of Long Ago and Our Little Spartan Cousin of Long Ago¬†during our Greece block and then I’ll have her write about which place she would choose to grow up and why.

I have heard great things about Julie Bogart’s Faltering Ownership program for this age, and I haven’t decided whether to use that as well, or if that might be too many language arts resources.

I am a huge proponent of reading for pleasure, and have picked out quite a few books for my fifth grader to read just for fun this year. I chose these with the help of the book Make Way for Reading and several homeschool Facebook groups I am in. They include:

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Math

We will be doing four math blocks this year, which sounds like a lot, but two will be combined with other subjects. The first will be a review of fourth grade math and then taking fractions a bit further. The second will be geometry and I’ve decided to have my fifth grader do the Waldorfish fifth grade geometry course.¬†That’s a subject I don’t feel confident about teaching and I know Waldorfish will make it beautiful and fun. The third will cover decimals. I am planning on using Marsha Johnson’s History of Chocolate block, which is a combined math and history block, and I plan to bring in more Latin American ancient history and geography into that block. The fourth will be on the metric system, which I will be pairing up with a study of Canadian geography.

I will be doing a lot of combining math with other subjects this year, which will be different for us and hopefully a fun change.

Some resources I’ll be using for these blocks include:

Carrie over at The Parenting Passageway just shared some resources she loves to use in conjunction with the History of Chocolate block, which I will probably incorporate. They include:

I don’t have many resources for Canada yet, but that block isn’t until next March, so I have plenty of time to find some.

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Botany

The science focus for fifth grade is botany. I learned last year that the anthroposophical underpinnings of Waldorf science don’t work for our family. So I’ll be taking the general suggestion of studying botany and running with it, but not coming at it from a very Waldorf perspective (if that makes any sense).

My plan is to do botany in September and May so we can take advantage of good weather for hikes and other local nature outings. I would love to spend some time at our city’s arboretum this spring while we learn about trees, for example.

Resources I’ll be using for these two blocks include:

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Extracurriculars

This is the most uncertain area of our homeschool as we wait to see what the landscape of out-of-the-house activities will look like in the fall. I’m looking into the possibilities of ballet or music or a foreign language happening via Zoom, and I’m also staying open to the possibility that my kids will want nothing to do with Zoom this fall. Both are OK. This pandemic is teaching me to stay flexible.

That’s fifth grade! Woof! It looks like a lot when it’s all written down like this. My goal is to keep the learning alive and active and fun this year. I love teaching through story and the arts and I think my fifth grader will absolutely love the subjects we’ll be covering this year, especially ancient civilizations.

Interested in seeing my tentative block plan for fifth and first grades? I wrote about that here.

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