"During the ninth year, the child takes a deep breath and draws itself out of the world in which he or she was united and goes into an inner soul space within the physical body. The world becomes an object, as the sense of Self grows stronger. The age of the dream is passing, and a new age that will one day culminate in the attainment of full waking consciousness begins to dawn. The Third Grade curriculum has a more realistic, practical quality than the first two grades." - Rudolf Steiner
I'm really looking forward to third grade - there is a lot of DOING involved. In most Waldorf schools it is a year of making, building, gardening and farming. As I've mentioned before, Jack really doesn't like the physical act of writing, so, while he'll still of course have to do some writing, I'm keeping it on the back burner for third grade and instead focusing most of his time on actually doing things. I also plan on spending lots of time on the things I felt we didn't have much time to do while I was schooling and working - mainly handwork and special projects. An earlier post lists my planned main lesson blocks for third grade.
The 9 year old third grader is quite different from the 8 year old second grader. I see it in Jack already, as he approaches his 9th birthday. He has a certain Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde element, one moment he is very thoughtful and responsible and the next moment he is screaming at me (direct quote) "You are the f word!" At least he didn't actually say it! I think he is starting to feel that tug, that makes up the root of the 9 year change - who am I? a little child or something else? where do I belong? how did I get here and why am I here? Carrie has a great post here about the 9 year old change. Here is another great article on the 9 year old by Rahima Baldwin Dancy. The typical Waldorf third grade curriculum addresses this change through focusing on how we make a home for ourselves here on this earth, and through hearing Old Testament stories. Old Testament stories directly speak to the 9 year old child's changing consciousness. The theme that I'm holding in my head for third grade is "Making the earth our home" and we will look at how humans get food, clothing and shelter.
For Jack's third grade year, I'm planning on creating my own curriculum drawing directly on indicaitons from Steiner and following some typical Waldorf main lesson blocks. I've read so much lately, that I'm not going to be great about citing where I found certain ideas, but I'll try to remember. Spread through three main lesson blocks over the course of the year, we will learn about grains (as in oats, rice, corn, etc.), fibers/clothing (cotton, wool, silk, leather/fur) and shelters (homes appropriate for different geographical areas).
My main underlying goal for these blocks is to convey the idea that geography (climate and available resources) determined what foods original people grew, what they wore and how they lived. Just as we saw the relationship in first grade between letters and images, (ie letters didn't just spring up fully formed from a person's mind), external forces influenced the use and development of food, clothing and homes. This will not be true geography yet, in that we won't be looking at exact countries and discussing their history, etc., rather it will be focused on geographical areas like hot/wet, dry/wet, temperate, arctic, etc. I will, though, have certain areas chosen in my mind, and I plan on finding folk stories from these areas to introduce and carry the different topics. My plan is to have four regions that will carry over the three blocks.
Obviously, the grains involve farming and learning about different farming techniques. We will touch some on this aspect, but since we live surrounded by farms plus have a garden and chickens ourselves, I don't think we will spend too much time on this outside of what we normally already do. The fiber/clothing block is so obviously hands on, I'm really looking forward to planning projects for that one! Our family is so blessed to have found the Tamakoce Wilderness Program. This will be Jack's second year participating and he has grown so much under the leader's excellent guidance. Each session ends with an overnight spent in a shelter that the children have constructed themselves, so I feel as if Jack already has had a pretty good building experience. That said, this book looked great to me, and I'm going to see where we can get with it.
I haven't thought much about the Old Testament stories yet, most of my inner excitement has been spent thinking about the above. I'm waiting till I go to the Steiner Library for some source story books. The main two I'm planning on looking at are the Jakob Streit books and Pearl S. Buck's Story Bible.