Waldorf Common Core Curriculum
The Waldorf Common Core Curriculum Alignment and Handbook can be downloaded from the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education website.
The curriculum at a Waldorf school can be seen as an ascending spiral. Every day a strong foundation is laid for future learning, and every day children learn optimally as teachers build on the previously instilled foundation and love of learning.
Understanding the Specials
As a school inspired by Waldorf methods, Winterberry offers a rich Specialty Program to all of our students. Specialty courses are an equal and essential part of the Waldorf program and are designed to deepen and enhance the main lesson activities. Attending Winterberry requires every child’s full participation in all offered specialty courses. Below you will find descriptors of these courses:
As human beings, we use our hands regularly in our daily lives. As Waldorf, the Handwork curriculum is broad and includes skills such as knitting, crocheting, hand sewing, embroidery, felting, paper crafts, pattern design, and machine sewing.
Many of the benefits of the Handwork program are obvious: hand-eye coordination; basic math skills such as counting, the four math processes, and basic geometry; the ability to understand and follow a process from concept to completion; and the ability to focus on a project for an extended period of time.
There are also more subtle rewards that complement these obvious benefits. Students must prepare and care for materials. Many of the created items have a practical use – a case for a flute, a needle book, a pair of socks. Design and color choice allow for individual creative expression. One of the most far- reaching benefits of Handwork class is the social aspect. While there are times when quiet is needed, such as when students are learning a new stitch, most of the time the atmosphere in the classroom is social and conversational, not unlike a quilting bee. Students learn to speak politely to one another. Throughout the process, respect is fostered.
At Winterberry, all first graders learn how to knit. This basic skill uses both right and left hands, and brings a steady, calming rhythm to the younger child. Crocheting, which emphasizes the right or left hand, almost always follows in the second or third grade. Cross- stitch is paramount to fourth grade as the children begin crossing over from childhood to adolescence. In fifth grade, knitting in the round, used to make hats, mittens, and socks, is a three dimensional, mathematical activity leading up to critical thinking in the middle school. Long-term hand-sewing projects involving concepts, patterns, and mathematical computations are usually found in sixth or seventh grade. The eighth grade Handwork curriculum often involves machine sewing, which perfectly integrates the student’s study of American History and the Industrial Revolution.
Russian is offered at Winterberry to all students in grades one – eight. The intent of Winterberry’s language program is for students to gain an innate appreciation for the sound of another language as well as its cultural richness. It is a dynamic program where language is offered through culture, music, games, cuisine, storytelling, crafts, singing, and dancing. From the content of these activities, children absorb the Russian culture and its passions. Students learn the geography and history of Russia and throughout the year, students prepare for and celebrate holidays and cultural events.
At Winterberry, we begin in grades one through three by immersing the children in the spoken language. In the first three grades, children experience the Russian language through verses, songs, and finger plays. Additionally, by adding stories and games we help the children deepen their experience of the language. In these grades, all work is generally oral in nature, with little or no reading or writing.
As students enter grade four and are fairly adept at reading and writing English, we introduce the Russian alphabet to them. The Russian alphabet offers great challenge to students with both its visual and phonetic differences. In order to help the children quickly make the connection between the letters and their sounds, we begin by writing out and reading aloud verses the children learned by heart in previous years. Soon the children are able to read Russian aloud almost as well as they read English. In grade five, we revisit stories heard aloud in previous grades in a printed form and begin more focused work with grammar.
The work of the middle school years is a bit more strenuous. We pull the language apart to study its nuances.
Culture & Folk Dance
Using Russian Language class as a base, students will engage in cultural experiences and dance throughout the grades. Students will cook, draw, sing, complete crafts, and learn Russian folk dance. Additionally, students will be introduced to folk and other dances, crafts, and food from around the world based on main lesson curricular focus.
Movement & Games
Just as Waldorf schools honor the natural unfolding of the developing human being in determining the academic curriculum, Movement Education springs from this same understanding. In a culture where organized team sports hold such high status, children can sometimes think of movement only in those terms. The Movement Education curriculum gives students basic coordination and movement skills that will help them if and when they decide to play organized sports. Depending on the grade, children will play games, do relay races, or learn dances that serve to develop skills that may also be beneficial for a conventional sport.
Not only does a movement class provide the opportunity for children to play games and have fun, it also works with their social interaction: their activity teaches them to play with each other before they play against each other, to acknowledge each other, to play safely, and to gain an appreciation for all kinds of movement. Movement Education enables students to move fully, know who they are, and enter into a more healthy relationship with the world and its requirements.
In the early years, kindergarten teachers introduce movement through imitation of daily activities, circle games, singing and imaginative play. Movement in kindergarten is crucial for establishing social and communication skills as well as laying the ground for cognition.
In grades three through five, movement education is taught through various games to help develop an enhanced awareness of personal space, with clearly defined boundaries. Physical activity is emphasized through games using imagery, story, rhythm and imitation. In the fifth grade, there is a focus on beauty and form, and in the spring the fifth graders participate in the Pentathlon, along with a gathering of fifth grade classes from Anchorage Waldorf School and Birchtree Charter School.
In grades six, seven, and eight, more conventional sports are introduced into the physical education curriculum. Only now can the children have a real respect for the law of rules and understand how a team works together. At the same time, they are developing their own self-discipline and competitive nature. They aspire to a finer exactness, technique, timing and spirit of the law, as they also become more aware of the world.
Music is an essential part of the Waldorf curriculum and permeates the school day from kindergarten through eighth grade. Music not only enlivens the spirit, but also increases the child’s capacity for learning. Through the study of music, we learn to sensitize our hearing, allowing us to better listen to the sounds of the world and to each other.
In the earliest years (kindergarten through first grade), the children sing primarily pentatonic melodies without harmony. In grade one, the pentatonic flute is introduced and is carried through to the second grade. From Kindergarten through Grade Two the class teacher is responsible for presentation of the Waldorf music curriculum via song, flute, and simple instruments.
Beginning in grade three, the students learn a more mindful approach to music, in keeping with their developing self-consciousness. It is in grade three that weekly music lessons are presented to Winterberry students by a certified music teacher. In this grade, we move on to the recorder. Additionally, the class moves through more complex vocal arrangements and progress at a rate that matches the students’ developmental needs.
In the middle school, ensembles, recorder groups, and choirs are formed and offer musical performances to the community within and beyond our school. Elements of musical theory are woven into the musical curriculum each middle school year. We also explore the lives of composers and aspects of music history. In the upper grades students also have the opportunity to learn the soprano, alto, tenor, and the bass recorder and bring in other instruments they have learned to play.
The Waldorf music teacher takes a primary interest in each child’s musical development but other adults also contribute to and support these efforts. The class teacher plays a vital role either by singing with the class and/or by playing recorder with them. The relationship each student develops with his or her private teacher is an important one, while parents help by supporting concentrated and regular practice times at home. (Adapted from: The Waldorf School of Atlanta)