Often referred to as The Golden Year, Fifth grade is one of balance. The students settle into their new sense of self, and a vision of the larger world. Another turning point before puberty begins, the curriculum reinforces past ideals while building on new ones, preparing children to broaden their intellectual scope.
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With a new History emphasis, students study ancient cultures (India, Persia, Babylonia, Egypt, Greece). Hearing the stories of these ancient peoples strikes inner awareness in the child’s own experience of being human. More eager to reflect and plan, students deeply feel cultural motivation and intention in societies studied. From Gilgamesh hunting for the plant of eternal life, to the invention of writing and farming, to pharaohs planning the afterlife, the goals of ancient people resonate. Poetry, craft projects, and painting all draw the child to discover these cultures close to the heart. Running and jumping now being smooth and fun, the child channels the ancient Greek Olympian inside their own body. In Movement, each year the class prepares and travels to join with other Waldorf schools for a regional Greek pentathlon, experiencing grace, form, and sportsmanship together.
Whereas history draws the child into themself, geography this year draws one out beyond one’s own town and state, into the United States. Students study the unique beauties of each state, their natural resources and botany, along with local Virgina plant life.
Seeing balance in all arenas, math work continues with fractions and delves into decimals. Freehand geometry anticipates Euclidean geometry. The students draw a perfect circle and work to achieve symmetry in geometrical shapes without a compass.
In language arts, the students expand knowledge of parts of speech, demonstrated in short compositions based on the stories told by their teacher. Block subjects engage spelling and reading comprehension skills; students read books typically integrated with the curriculum subjects.
The class continues soprano recorder skills, playing and singing in two and three parts. They now play as an Orchestra and now sing as a Choir with the 6th grade. In Handwork, the students knit a pair of socks or mittens in the round with double pointed needles. Spanish emphasizes vocabulary building; students absorb material through hearing the teacher speak almost entirely in Spanish. Woodworking offers the delight of crafting an individual spoon, and other items.