Waldorf Inspired 4th Grade

Welcome to the Grade 4 blog post where you can find many of the resources I share for grade 4, many of which are Waldorf inspired. Grade 4 is typically students 10-12 years old, or students who have just completed or just about to complete their ‘nine-year-change’ which is a major developmental change that occurs in the 7 years between the ‘age of awareness’ (roughly around 7 years old) and puberty (which most children reach by age 14). The Waldorf curriculum supports children as they develop through these stages with lessons and stories that resonate with the child and support their changing needs. While stories are carefully chosen, and lessons purposefully constructed, understanding the reasons behind the methodology will allow you to choose stories and lessons that are relevant for your child based on your culture, heritage, religion or residence in the world. The Waldorf curriculum I primarily use is by Live Education and the trajectory of the curriculum is western and Euro-centric. In my years of using the curriculum, I have opted to both use the curriculum (and sometimes expand it into unit studies), and create my own main lesson blocks or stories to suit our religious needs. I encourage you to do the same and here’s how you can.

The Development of the 10 year old Child

The 10 year old student who has completed the nine-year-change will begin to have a greater sense of who he is and how he wants the world to perceive him. His ego is being developed and as he moves towards puberty his thinking and feeling capabilities will continue to unfold. By this age, the student understands deeply past tense as he has developed to the point of understanding the experience rather than experiencing life up to the nine-year-change without the concept of time. Up to that point, summer vacation of 3 months does not feel or is experienced as shorter than 9 months of school. Following the nine-year-change, time appears to speed up and time moves fast, the school years passes quickly and summer vacation ends before it barely got started. The student this age is looking for identification. Who is he? What is he good at? The curriculum introduces a zoology block with a brilliant opening lesson. One that begins with the child. A child has a head, trunk, and limbs. The head for thinking, the trunk for holding body (organs and bones for another time), and legs for movement. But what about the arms? The arms for for giving. We have the ability to use our arms in ways animals cannot. Many animals (not all of course) use their ‘arms’ for movement in one way or another. Or they use their arms for survival. As humans we, too, use our arms for planting, building, weaving, all necessary for survival, but we can use our arms in service to others. We are special in that respect. We may see our purpose in our abilities and one is what we do with are hands. We may also do things with our speech and you may choose to explore that at this point or reserve that for a later time as the point of talking about arms is to see them in contrast to that of animals being explored during this block.

Abstract thought is developed around puberty, but it begins in the years before. Micro developmental steps are happening yearly with the child and the more he begins to associate thinking as separate from his perceptions, the more he will develop thinking as an abstract concept. There is a loss experienced when thinking is no longer tied to the perceptions of the outside world, and begins to live on its own. With this loss, this change and this new realization, the child’s confidence is shaken. The years of thinking anything is possible and believing you, yourself, are capable of almost anything, are replaced with apprehension, uncertainty, and question. The awareness of the world separate from the himself is disconcerting and two unhealthy outcomes may appear: either the child becomes self absorbed or over absorbed in the world. This is a time when children desire to establish themselves and who they are and who others are. Grouping others and themselves is heightened at this age. Questions about where they belong or who they belong to come up. Identification is consuming. Realization of the past and the loss of childhood is distressing. They still crave meaning to this new world they are experiencing.

Children are not quite ready to deeply comprehend cause and effect, logical thought or abstract thinking. The concept of money, for instance, is not well established because a coin or bill is an abstract concept to a 10 year old child.

The stories of the Norse Myths (the descending of heavenly beings from paradise to the world of man and all of their torments) mirrors the sentiments of the child of 10 years of age. Here the inner world and the outer world are in conflict. The innocence of childhood is in conflict with the awakening child who is beginning to understand there is a greater outer world and he is and must be apart of it. There is loss and grief with the change. And through that change, a strength is born and that strength and confidence must be carefully guided.

While I personally chose to do Norse Mythology with 2 of my 4 children, the concepts and stories may be found in other stories around the world to suit one’s culture or religion. For instance, I find grade 4 a great time to explore the story of Adam, Hawwa (Eve), Iblis (Shaytan, Satan), and the creation story of Muslims. Please note that while there are similarities with other creation stories, they are the differences that are crucial to understand and teach properly. I will outline that major differences between the Jewish, Christian and Muslim creation story.

Creation Story

When Allah created Adam, He ordered the Angels and Iblis (a Jinn, not an Angel) to bow down to Adam. The bowing in this instance is not a gesture of worship, to be clear. Also, the angels have only desire to please Allah, they do not have free will. Iblis is a Jinn and was a high ranking Jinn who was honored with being present when Adam was molded from clay and his Ruh (soul) blown into him. Jinn have free will and when Allah ordered them to bow to Adam, the angels obeyed but Iblis didn’t. He argued that he, Iblis, was superior to Adam, and he, Iblis, was fashioned from a smokeless fire, while Adam was fashioned from clay. Iblis’ disobedience was met with immediate punishment, an eternity in Hell. But Iblis asked for a reprieve. Allah allowed him to live until the Day of Judgement when all beings would be called to account for their deeds. Iblis (known as Shaytan) and his evil-doing jinn (shayateen) were granted until the Last Day to whisper temptations to mankind, to entice them to wrong-doing so that they may fill Hellfire with them. From Adam, Hawwa was created and together they lived for many years in Jannah (Paradise), innocent and free. They lived in the garden of Paradise with only one rule: Not to eat the fruit from a particular tree (not identified as apple). For years, Iblis tempted Adam and Hawwa. He told them they could live forever if they tasted the fruit of the tree. After many years of constant temptation, they both (not Hawwa, but together both) were tempted and tasted from the fruit. The moment they did, they repented to Allah for their transgression. Allah forgave them for their sin. After they time in Paradise (personally I see this as their childhood since neither have parents and were fashioned as people not infants), they were ordered to make their life on earth. Earth was a place prepared by Allah for mankind, not a punishment. The ‘fall from paradise’ as other religions would frame it, makes earth a punishment and a consequence. Neither are true. Allah intended for earth to be their home for them and all mankind. The Earth has a history: geological, zoological and botanical and through that history, earth was perfectly prepared for Adam and Hawwa. Allah taught Adam the name of all things and once on earth, they bore many children. Each pregnancy was a twin, and the twin of each pregnancy was not allowed to marry that twin, only a twin from another pregnancy. Adam was taught farm and heard animals. And when a conflict arose among his two sons, one of whom grew grains, and the other who kept animals, a sacrifice of their best crop of animal was offered to decide upon the conflict. The point of reminding the Muslim community in particular of the last part of this story is reaffirm that the concept of ‘cave’ man and ‘hunter gatherer’ is incorrect in terms of human heritage (there certainly were people who made their homes in caves and hunting and gathering are processes for survival, but history of humankind does not originate with this concept).

When teaching the grade 4 student, any story that depicts a change from innocence and childhood and paradise to accountability, responsibility and the separation of inner and outer world would work well for this age.

Grade 4 Live Education Waldorf Curriculum Review

The Grade 4 curriculum by Live Education comes complete with several main lesson blocks that help support the development of the 10 year old child. Grade 4 is intended for children ages 10-12 approximately. The main lesson blocks in year 4 are the following: The Norse Myths, Beowulf, the Kalevala, Imaginative Math and Fractions, Man and Animal, Local geography, Drawing Animals, The Introduction to the Fourth Year Curriculum, The World of Animals (companion volume), Teaching Grammar with Imagination. Additional books are recommended for some of the main lesson blocks which can be found in the Introduction to the Fourth Year Curriculum book.

Blocks are rotated throughout the year with main lessons lasting 2 hours (and sometimes more), with blocks lasting 3 or 6 weeks. I prefer to do my grammar and math block in the fall, history in the winter and science in the spring, but that is a personal preference.

Deeper Look at Year 4

If buying a grade 4 Waldorf curriculum isn’t the right choice for your family, but you would still like to enjoy some of the main lesson blocks for this year, you may explore the books and resources I’ve compiled for each subject area. While some of the books and resource I’m sharing are no longer in print, you may source similar, more current selections. And while these books are part of home library, I encourage you to check out your local library (or transfer books from other libraries), as you are more likely to find current books. If vintage books (as in 20 years or older) is more appealing to you, check out the used bookstore at your library. I try to scan the non-fiction section often and have picked up some gems at a great price.

The use of books within a main lesson block is primarily for the teacher to educate herself in preparation for a main lesson. Over the years, I admit that due to lack of time or efficient planning, I would end up reading the books aloud to my students rather than orally telling them stories. Now (2024), after over 20 years of teaching, I can draw on my stories and information to orally deliver (or partially deliver) lessons without extensive research. And while you are not likely to find Waldorf teachers using picture books in their classrooms, I do love them and use them often, so they are included in the main lesson blocks, especially for the Man and Animal (zoology) block.

Material for Grade 4

There are a few supplies that I recommend having on hand for the grade 4 student that you may likely have already if you’ve been homeschooling with a Waldorf inspired approach. Main Lesson Books are the books that students use to present their best work for a lesson. Scratch paper may be used for math practice or for rough drafts, but the main lesson book will include their lesson activity which likely includes written work and an illustration. In the younger grades, my student’s grammar main lesson books also had a collection of spelling words and their math main lesson books didn’t have as much illustrations as their grade 5 and 6 main lesson books when they did their geometry blocks. For grade 4, you may consider continuing with your 9 inch by 12 inch landscape or portrait main lesson books.

Waldorf Grade 4 Grammar Resources

While I love the Waldorf approach and the use of developmentally appropriate stories and an educational approach that delivers content that will be well received by the child because they are ripe for it, I have to say that when it comes to imaginative math and grammar, I have a hard time wrapping my head around the approach. What I’ve done instead is take the concept of connecting grammar to the history or mythology of the year and the more structured approach of Susan Wise Bauer’s classical approach and wrote my own grammar curriculum using historical biographies that reflect our family values and religious beliefs.

Many of the grammar books I’m sharing helped me write grammar curriculum for my students. Some included workbooks which we utilized, however, I don’t like grammar worksheets that present sentences with gross grammar or spelling or punctuation errors in which the student must then correct those mistakes. Based on the Charlotte Mason approach, she would discourage such a practice and in fact, if the child had written a word incorrectly, she would advise that word be promptly erased from paper and mind and spelled correctly immediately as to not have that ingrained in the child’s mind. Likewise, I prefer the workbooks which present questions or matching in which no incorrect language is used.

I’m also sharing a couple of Waldorf resources that suit multiple grades as well as my favorite language arts curriculum First Language Lessons (and Writing with Ease, not pictured). Included are a couple of games you could play during opening activities.


Grade 4 Math

In every grade, a new mathematical concept will be introduced and all the concepts before will be worked on for proficiency and eventually mastery. In grade 4, fractions are introduced. I find fractions to be a difficult concept for many children and adults to fully understand and master. While there are some children who take to it right away, I have an idea for you if your child doesn’t or if you still struggle with the concept of fractions, decimals and percents.

I prefer to begin our year (usually in September after several months off in the summer), with our blocks in math and grammar. I choose the fall when the children are freshest, most enthusiastic and hopefully ripe for learning. The exception is grade 4 math block if I anticipate my students will need more time in prep before diving into fractions. In that case, I spend the majority of the year in ‘Living Math’ and introduce the written form of fractions at the end of the school year, spending grade 5 in deep practice for fractions, decimals and percent. Also, I should remind you that in practice, I’ve never been as idealistic as I write and share and in my videos. Life is unpredictable at the best of times, and adjusting for children’s capabilities, your time, life’s challenges, etc. is necessary in every step of this educational journey.

For Living Math, I am meaningful about using fraction terms in practical life, measuring and comparing while cooking and gardening and using math while grocery shopping in a non quizzing way. If I ask ‘How much is 2 dozen eggs?” and each dozen is $2.99, I might expect an answer of $6 rather than $5.98 as my son gave me almost 2 decades ago when he was maybe 8 years old. I learned a lot from this interaction. But if my son was more interested in noticing the 10 varieties of eggs rather than doing math, I would not ask him the question again, nor press him for the answer if I noticed distress. I’ve seen parents in public choose meaningful opportunity to teach reading or math, only for it to result in stress, humiliation or distress. While I applaud the initiative and care these parents have, sometimes, the child has his or her own plans.

In addition to introducing fractions in grade 4, the four mathematical functions and the memorization of the multiplication table is going to be reviewed heavily this year. In my experience, mastery of these concepts took years.

One of our favorite ways to ‘live’ and experience math was with the book Math in the Garden: Hands-On Activities. You can see all the engaging projects we did by checking out the video playlist for Math in the Garden.

Resources for Math

Fractions and Mental Math

Grade 4 is synonymous with the introduction of fractions. And while it may take years to master fractions, students will progress to higher math the following year while reviewing the maths of previous years. Additionally, students will continue to work on their mental math abilities. Mental math is the process of doing math problems in your head without paper and pencil.

This mental math curriculum is on sale now! There are three curricula to choose from depending on your student’s math ability. Several sample pages are available for free on my website Pepper and Pine. Mental Math Grades 1-3, Mental Math Grades 3-5, Mental Math Grades 4-8, or Buy the bundle.

Mental math is the process of orally asking math questions and having the student compute the math in his or her head and orally answer the question.  These are not questions that are drilled or memorized. Often you’ll find two part questions that can still be done mentally but are more challenging because now the whole question needs to be remembered while each portion of the question is worked out. Questions are often two parts with the first part including a multiplication or division question followed by an addition or subtraction question. When questions include  whole numbers and fractions the possibilities for questions is tremendous. Here are some examples:

2 x 5 + 9 = (19)        12 x 1/2 – 1 1/2 = (4 1/2)             12 ÷ 4 + 6 = (9)            7 x 7 + 18 = (67)

Mental math is ideal when it is included in your opening activities, but you may choose to do mental math whenever it fits your daily schedule. While it’s best to do mental math everyday, you may double up on mental math lessons when necessary. Or, you can do mental math 2 or 3 days a week. I find that mental math is best before a lesson and that it is math the student is already familiar with; it should not be new learning. In general, mental math is best when the student is fresh and isn’t already academically fatigued. For most children this is in the morning, but you may find your child performs best at another time of day.

These worksheets contain five questions each day of the school week (Monday through Friday, or in the case of the worksheets marked Day 1 to Day 5 to accommodate international school weeks). That’s a total of 35 questions a week. That’s over 1000 questions a year, most of which are two part questions so that’s like doing nearly 2000 questions a year! That’s sufficient, but when I was doing these questions with my children, I often did 6-10 questions a day when my children were about grade 5 to grade 9, and about 2-5 questions when my children were grades 1-4. I would repeat the same questions year after year adding more challenging ones the first time my children went through these questions. By the time I had created all my mental math questions I had over 4000 questions spanning 3 years. I simply recycled the questions year to year.

Fractions, Decimals and Percents

It’s my opinion that fractions are the most challenging math concepts that elementary students have to master. And while in a relatively short space of time they can become fairly proficient in calculating fractions, decimals and percents on paper, I do think it takes years, even decades to fully master the concept and practice of fractions. The resources I’m sharing can easily complement an existing math curriculum or they can be the resources you use to create your own curriculum.

You can check out the more extensive math blog post for the Waldorf approach to Elementary Math. For review work, I use a math binder. While we mainly use Key to Curriculum series I have recently become interested in the Straight Forward math workbook series.

Key To math series are the only math books we ever buy. They are simple, student-led and environmental friendly! You read it right, they are environmental friendly. The workbooks contain about 45 pages and are printed on thin paper similar to newsprint paper. They are also simply laid out with easy to understand directions, so minimal instruction is needed. If you do need to help your child, the examples provided in the books are the perfect teaching tool. Simply write the example on a chalkboard or piece of paper and walk your child through the example. The series also comes with an answer key, which I highly recommend. The curriculum is sold individually or as a set, and I think they are really well priced.

For Grade 4, I recommend Key to Fractions, Key to Decimals and Key to Percents, as well as Key to Metric Measurement and Key to Measurement.

Waldorf Grade 4 | Folktales, Mythology & Heroic Poems

Let’s review the stories children will be exposed to and learning from since grade 1. When introducing the letters, the stories of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. In grade 2, when grammar and spelling are being explored, the stories of Native American Legends and Aesop’s Fables are being told. In grade 3 when the child is going through their 9-year-change, the Saints’ and Prophets’ stories give the student comfort as they relate to the wandering of Moses in the desert just as the child feels out of sorts himself and looking for stability and control. In grade 4, they mythologies, folktales and epic poems are taught just at a time when the child is in turmoil between his inner and outer world. The fall of the divine and the journey of the human through life and its suffering is mirrored in the Norse myths the fall of Thor and the loss of his hammer. The creation story of Adam and Eve evoke the same sentiment. In grade 5 when the children are in this beautiful in-between phase when the limbs have not yet grown beyond the child’s knowing as will happen with puberty, when discoordination and clumsiness seems to plague the child, and in the perfect time after the tumultuous 9-year-change and age of the fallen divine comes the time when the child is finally at momentary rest. The ancient histories including Greek and Roman histories are taught alongside geometry and botany where perfection, idealism and heroes are explored. This is where children may see the heroes and ‘gods’ of ancient Greek and Roman mythologies and the perfection of geometry in math and manifested in plants in the botany main lesson and in space in astronomy main lesson. Grades 6, 7, 8 focus on european and US history with brief looks at world history.

Resources for Heroic Poems

Norse Myths Extended Block

When we did our Norse Myths, I collected various books and put together my own block without the main lesson book. I sourced various books, but many ended up being similar and redundant. Only one book on Norse Myths is needed, while I ended up with four. One illustrated, one for upper elementary, one vintage and one curriculum based. While I liked having a historical fiction, and a picture book or two on life in Viking times, one of our favorite books was If You Were Me and Live in Viking by Carol P. Roman. That book was written with the child in mind and is told entirely from the child’s point of view. One thing I love to add when possible is food! I love introducing recipes from around the world or ones that will enhance a lesson. We also found an innovated book that combined math with a viking ship. While I loved the idea, we didn’t utilize it as well I as hoped. While at the Live Education Summer Seminar, teacher Susan Darcy shared with me her main lesson book for Norse Myths and provided permission to share it.


Man and Animal | Grade 4 Zoology

The zoology block in grade 4 in Waldorf schools in unlike a typical zoology class. Instead of the traditional classification of the animals in the Animal Kingdom (which is saved for a bit later), the class begins with the exploration of the human form looking at the head, trunk and limbs. We see that as humans, we do not need all four limbs for movement or mobility. We see our hands are free. Our hands are for giving and caring for others. I love the spiritual connection between the two.

We love adding games to our opening activities and one game we return to often are the Professor Noggin’s Trivia Game. Sometimes we don’t find a topic we need and end up making our own which turns out even better than the original and better than we intended. Making your own trivia cards with illustrations is a time-consuming but meaningful lesson activity that can be used again and again. When coming up with questions, students have to process the lesson, contemplate and come up with suitable questions. In some ways, it’s the most superior way of learning as it’s initially passive (listening or reading), then active (processing the info and synthesizes the information in preparation of formulating questions) and finally instructional, because the student now tests the info for himself as he creates the questions AND answers for the trivia cards. Students must also decide on the type of question: fill in the blank, multiple choice or open ended. We’ve done these cards for our Owl unit, Bird unit, Whale unit and Astronomy unit.

Check out Susan Darcy’s main lesson book she uses to create her lessons. She has given permission for me to share her work here.


Ocean Main Lesson Block

Ocean Main Lesson Block is an 8-week, 20 lesson (154 pgs.), Waldorf inspired curriculum complete with daily lessons, opening activities, suggested narrations, artwork, samples of student work, and hands-on projects and activities, with links to dozens of resources and original content videos to make recreating these lessons as easy as possible. Topics include geology marine biology zoology history oceanography folktales Each of the 20 lessons takes 2-4 days to complete making this unit ideal for either complimenting another curriculum or as a stand alone unit study/main lesson block. Each lesson is filled with Photos of chalk drawings watercolor paintings student work accompany Links to original videos are added throughout curriculum making following along with tutorials an added bonus. Each lesson includes either: Handwork science demonstrations activities Read aloud books and resources are listed with each lesson including links to the products which makes it easy for you to find and evaluate each resource before buying it, if you choose. You can omit all additional resources and complete this curriculum in its entirety with just a blank drawing book and colored pencils. An introduction to Waldorf main lesson block and the three-day lesson rhythm is included in the curriculum making it easy to use and ideal for new homeschoolers or new-to-Waldorf homeschoolers. Lessons are designed to be read aloud (Charlotte Mason style), or the content can be pre-read by the teacher and presented as a narrative or as a story (Waldorf style). Also included are Opening activity ideas Mental math examples Daily poetry Read aloud book selections Each lesson is clear and user-friendly. Please read through the lessons before starting the main lesson block so you can assemble the materials you need. While most books can be found at the library, and most supplies for projects can be found in your home, there are a number of materials that you may wish to have on hand before starting the block. You can also see the projects we did for this unit in the video playlist for our Ocean Block. Be sure to check out the Ocean Main Lesson Block blog post that accompanies this curriculum as it is filled with additional information and videos.

Horse Unit Study

Before the school year began, my daughter asked to study horses. So from that request came a thrilling unit that has me so thankful she asked! In addition to picture books, we have historical fiction, The Winter Horse and The Perfect Horse, both set in World War II time and Reckless also set in that time, but based on a true story about a horse and his championing heroism. We also included Native American stories, picture books, games and kits. There were few hands on projects for this unit and we didn’t head to the kitchen! But we did do something we haven’t done for a unit before: Signed up for horse riding lessons. It was a well worth splurge that my daughter thoroughly enjoyed. You can find more details about this unit, the books we used and the projects we did on the blog post that accompanies this Horse unit.

Birds, Owls and Eggs

There’s always excitement when I put together a new unit. It’s the same excitement you might feel at the start of the new homeschool year. I love looking for new resources and assembling a nice balance of books and activities. It’s not always fun though. Sometimes I hit creative roadblocks or in other cases, I’m overwhelmed by too many choices. In general this is what I look for when putting together a unit: -Non-fiction books with a lot of illustrations or photographs -Picture books -Novels or fictions or historical fictions (if it’s a history unit) that I can read aloud to my children -Activity books -Cookbooks or recipes -Kits -Field trip or class opportunities -Biographies -Games For this unit, I also got a set of flashcards that were gorgeous, but I don’t know how I’m going to incorporate it into the unit. That happens sometimes, I find things that are beautiful and in the very least, they become drawing inspiration. For this unit, I had a number books. In fact, most of my units have a lot of books, but for this unit, I didn’t have a lot of projects planned and I got no kits except the Owl Dissection Field Biology Kit. Thankfully, a lot of project ideas came from the books we read. I love it when that happens. And thankfully, we have a lot of creative art supplies on hand, so when the inspiration hit, we were ready! You can find more details and pictures of the projects and books at the blog post that accompanies this Bird Unit. You may also check out the complete Bird Unit Study playlist.

Owls Unit Study

Are you looking for a small unit study on owls? I’ve got you covered! I know my unit studies tend to be long, involved and contain a lot of books, but this one is small, with a few beautiful books, a couple projects and a game to start off the lessons. I didn’t create a lesson plan for this unit, rather, I did more of a unit study ‘to do’ list. You can find all the resources as well as the ‘lesson plan to do list’ on at the blog post for our Owls Unit Study. You may enjoy some of the projects we completed with our owls unit in this video playlist.

Geography, History and Industry for Grade 4

This block requires extra work on your end because it’s based on where you live, the geography of your area, the layout of your home and neighborhood or town, and the history of your county or state. I’m sharing some videos and resources for California and indigenous people of northern and southern California, specifically the Ohlone and Chumash tribes. Some of the books I’m sharing are for other tribes or native people in general. Some of the traditional arts and crafts were taught or explained by native people teaching their craft or sharing their history, story and craft.



California History

California history including the gold rush make up this unit. It’s a mix of biographies, historical fiction, resource books, kits and a ‘how to draw’ book. I think I’m most looking forward to the kit we got for panning for gold. We also really like the ‘Who Was…” books for their simplicity, content and illustrations. No unit of mine would be complete without a hands-on activity and this unit includes a ‘gold’ excavation kit.

Exploring Tribal History and Crafts

If you’d like more books on Native Americans, I put together a unit separate from the Grade 4 curriculum. This is a small compilation of supplies that would stand alone as a unit, but what would be more authentic is to distribute these materials over all our other American History unit, as currently each unit only has a little bit of relevant Native American material. While most of these supplies came from Rainbow Resource, there are a few books that were hand-me-down. Our Indian Fire Drill was purchased many years ago (possibly from a museum gift shop), but looks like something a crafter or woodworker could make.

How to Make a Pine Needle Basket for Beginners

This is a great activity for a nature unit study or for an Indigenous People. It’s fairly simple, but does take some practice or skill. What I did was get the project started out for my 10-year-old son who continued making it until the end, when I finished it off. We made a small flat basket with a small lip. If you work with a larger bundle of pine needles, it was be faster and easier, especially for kids. I would recommend using a blunt wide eyed needle for this project. You can find raffia online or in craft stores. Pine needles are free! But I recommend using the long pine needles. If you can’t find them in nature, you can buy them as a basket weaving kit from Acorn Naturalist. This project is ideal for kids 12 years and up, but with a little help, you can assist a child as young at eight years old.

Excavation Kit | Native American Relics

I’m guessing that by now, these kits by Krystal are hard to come by. Dig, Discover and Display Indian Relics is an excavation kit in which you excavate a frame of ‘Native American Relics’ that you paint once the frame is cleaned of dust and plaster. We’ve used these kits for various unit studies and have always enjoyed them. But I have to say that over the years they’ve lost their charm on us. When the kiddos were younger they were especially excited about discovering what was in the plaster. This time around my 13-year-old had less enthusiasm than he used to have, while my 8-year-old daughter was moderately excited about it.

Waldorf Handwork

Handwork in Waldorf schools takes as much care in choosing the work that will be done as choosing the lessons. In some cases the lessons and the handwork coordinate beautifully. Cross Stitch and embroidery are the main projects for this grade. Felting a ball is the first step to an embroidered ball. This project may take weeks to months to complete. Cross stitch is a beautiful skill to develop at this age.



How To Make a Felted Ball

Some handwork projects span several weeks or months and others can be done in a day. Making a felted ball falls somewhere in between depending on how you make it and for what purpose. In grade 4 Waldorf schools, you may find students making and embroidering felted balls. These gorgeous masterpieces take months to do, but the end result is breathtaking. Today’s project is just on making a felted ball which still takes some time to make, but the majority of the project is complete in just one afternoon. I’m working with my 8-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son and when the felted balls are done, you’ll be able to see each of their skill sets and how much I helped them. We are not embroidering these balls right now. Either they will remain just as felted balls, or become heads for dolls, or eventually be embroidered.

We initially did this project with the intention to use the balls for our mental and movement math activities, but found we prefer heavier objects like bean bags or racket balls. However, these balls are ideal for safe indoor movement math provided they are used appropriately. For this project, I used scraps of yarn from other projects to make up the core of the ball. Next, I covered the core with undyed wool. For my daughter, she wanted a pink ball so I covered hers with additional pink wool batt. The wool is from A Child’s Dream and we typically use it in our homeschool for various projects including felted animals for our nature main lesson blocks. You’ll only need a few supplies for this project, but you may consider working outside or in the kitchen, as it’s a project that gets messy fast. Aside from a small amount of wool, and something for the core, which can be more wool, but I liked having the opportunity to use up my scraps, you’ll need two bowls of water: one hot (but not too hot you can’t put your hands in) and one cold (cold water from the tap is fine).

You’ll also need some dish soap. Have a towel on hand too! The starting of this project takes a little skill, so I did quite a bit for my 8-year-old daughter who wouldn’t have this handwork project in a Waldorf setting at her age, but because we are homeschooling, a lot of our projects end up being done by multiple children in different grades. I formed the core for her and added the wool. I also dunked it in water and formed it until is was a sphere. Once I thought the shape would hold, I handed it over to her to finish. I made the core for my son and felt confident he could manage the rest, which he could. The felting part takes a long time. I’ve shown more the process than I normally would show for a tutorial because this is one project in which the children (and possible an adult), would think the project is done far sooner than when it’s actually done. Plan on about 15-25 minutes of felting by dunking the ball into hot water with a bit of soap and forming it in the palm of your hands and dunking it in the cold water and repeating over and over again until the ball is firm. My daughter’s ball isn’t as firm as my son’s because she tired sooner than he did and she didn’t felt firmly. In the end, while you can tell the difference, I think they are both just fine. The funnest part is bouncing the balls in a bathtub! You can pop them in the dryer to dry, and you can leave them there as dryer balls, or you can set them in a dry place and let them air dry. It took ours a full week to be completely dry all the way through, but they will be dry to the touch within a few days. Check out more Waldorf handwork on this blog post for more details.

Wet Felting a Pumpkin

Wet felting a pumpkin is a beautiful autumn project. It’s a time consuming and a bit messy if the water sloshes around, but it’s a durable craft you can decorate with year after year.

Handwork Through the Grades

I’m sharing some of the handwork projects my children and I have done over the years. I’ve learned a lot from handwork teachers over the years a big thank you to Melanie and Elizabeth for all of the projects and skills you have taught me. . In grade 1, when the children are first learning, how to knit, you can make so many projects from their work, whether it’s a square or a rectangle. Some of the things that we have made are the rainbow ball, a cat, a rabbit, a pumpkin, and a little doll. Also, in grade one, they will make their own knitting needles out of dowels. . In grade 2 children learn how to purl, and with that new skill, they can make a knitted doll with arms and legs. . In grade 3 children work with embroidery. This is a great time to wet felt a ball and embroider it while practicing different kinds of stitches. Children may also practice different kinds of Nordic motifs with their embroidery to complement their main lessons. . In grade 4, children work with cross stitch. Children may cross stitch bags for their pencils or flute/recorder. . In grade 5 children learn to knit with four knitting needles and knit hats and socks. We also added scarves to that year, but scarves are attainable to make in grade one, however, in grade one it’s recommended that children knit things that they can “love” like knitted animals or dolls. Of course we do a lot of knitted balls in grade one as well and that’s fun to play with. You wouldn’t do a scarf in grade one, as that has no feeling attached to it it’s more utilitarian and that is saved for an older grade. . In grade 6, children learn different stitching techniques. They create their own patterns and stitch animals like a horse or an elephant. They work on making two dimensional patterns, but thinking in terms of a three-dimensional product. . In middle school, students work on weighted dolls.

Waldorf Education Not for You?

Not to worry. How about trying a literature based curriculum instead?

If you want a literature-based all inclusive curriculum, Moving Beyond The Page for 4th & 5th grade may be the curriculum f you’re looking for. This curriculum integrates language arts, science, and social studies together using literature as the ‘textbooks’. An independent math curriculum, such as Right Start Math, is suggested, and the website sells that separately. For the 8-10 year bracket, there are four concepts to span the year, each with three units each. Each unit has about two workbooks with about 10 lessons each. Each lesson has multiple activities which are worksheet based. The curriculum also comes with a science kit which has dozens of science projects, experiments and activities all neatly packed and labeled with the concept, unit, lesson and activity making the hands-on portion of this curriculum super easy to use and incorporate into the curriculum. The literature for the language arts program complements the science unit or social studies unit making this an interdisciplinary curriculum.

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