THIRD GRADE MORNING LESSON BLOCKS AND SKILLS CLASSES
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
In third grade the child experiences a new outlook towards self. The question arises within the child’s consciousness, ‘Who am I?’ In Waldorf education we recognize this realization of selfhood as the nine-year change. New capacities for thinking and judgment are emerging. The ‘unity of all things’ experience of the younger child is giving way to an inner/outer dichotomy. ‘I am here, and the world is there’ may bring self-consciousness and a critical view of oneself and others. Strong opinions and strong likes and dislikes are emerging. A new realistic view of the world is beginning to manifest. The 3rd grade curriculum helps the child move through this developmental stage. Below is a brief description of what we will cover in our morning lesson blocks and skills classes over the year. Please note that the block content is subject to change.
Language Arts (three blocks plus one skills class per week)
The primary story material for 3rd grade is the Hebrew Bible. These stories provide something of a bridge between folk tale and recorded history. They recapitulate the inner mood of the child at this age. The child understands on some level what it is to be ‘thrown out of Paradise’, to wander in the wilderness, to earn a living by the ‘sweat of one’s brow’. While the Hebrew Bible will be the main source of material for the language arts blocks, the stories will also continue throughout the year in all blocks.
We will begin the year with the Genesis. The first weeks of school the children, as creators themselves, will paint the seven days of creation and learn the opening verses of Genesis. Throughout the year, the chidren will hear the stories of Cain and Abel, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob, Leah and Rachel, Joseph and his brothers, Moses, Joshua, Naomi and Ruth, David and Solomon. These create very strong pictures of the inner struggles each individual will face in life.
The children will write stories from my example, together as a class, through dictation and independently. They will be introduced to the basic parts of speech: ‘naming’ (nouns), ‘doing’ (verbs), and ‘describing’ (adjectives and adverbs). Simple punctuation and capitalization will be practiced. We will continue to work on phonics, long and short vowels, plurals and compound words, as well as basic spelling rules. Weekly spelling words will be given as homework. Through form drawing the children will learn cursive writing during skills lessons.
Reading will be a main focus of the year. As well as reading from our morning lesson books, the class will practice reading in weekly skills classes. They will read with a partner, or in a small group of three, as well as reading independently. We will work on reading strategies, fluency and comprehension. This year the children will also have weekly visits to the library. They will be introduced to alphabetizing and basic library skills. Speech work will continue in morning lesson through choral recitation and the class play.
Bounty of the Earth – Shelters, Clothing, Farming (three blocks)
Following the Hebrew Bible stories, humans had to protect themselves from the elements and create their own sense of space once expelled from Paradise. The third graders seek a way in which their will can be brought in relationship with their home – the earth. There will be three blocks entitled ‘Bounty of the Earth’ where the children will learn the very practical aspects of living on the earth, and have hands-on experiences such as cooking, building, working with fibers, preparing soil, planting, tending and harvesting.
The first block, shelters, will take us into the study of world geography. In the past, how did a particular setting determine the type of houses that people built? We will see the Inuits’ houses of ice and the lake-dwellers’ houses on stilts, yurts formed from wool, and breezy desert tents. We will learn about the multitude of steps that go into the making of a modern house, and try to observe any local construction. We will construct models of different types of houses in class throughout the year. By the end of the year, we will undertake a small building project of our own on the school grounds.
The second block will focus on clothing. We will discover how clothing protects us from the elements, but also has social and cultural significance. The children will learn how clothing is made from plants and animals. We will follow the steps in the creation of fabric from the source to the final product.
The third block will focus on food. By hearing in the classroom about a farm family, the children will learn imaginatively about the course of the year on a farm. We will learn about the importance of the cycle – Seed ⇒ Plant ⇒ Food ⇒ Compost ⇒ Seed, and how animals and human beings depend on the soil and strive to fructify it. We will learn to identify several grains, and of their importance in world nourishment and culture. For example, the relationship of Asian rice to water and to intensive agriculture, North American maize to earth and to the depletion of soil, etc. We will not only learn how foods are grown, but also how they are processed. Weekly visits to the Ruby garden and our class trip to Angelic Organics farm will provide the children with a ‘hands-on’ experience of growing and cultivating food.
Arithmetic (three blocks plus one skills class per week)
As the children’s perception of the world becomes ever more objective, 3rd graders have a natural desire to quantify and measure. A central aspect of this year is learning the different kinds of measurement, and how they originally related to the human body (ex. cubit = arm and hand). From this, the children will come to understand the importance of a standard measure.
The first arithmetic block will focus on time and distance. Our work with measurement will serve us well in the area of borrowing and carrying, for the ‘English’ measurement system forces us to be flexible. Our linear measurement is built up on a base of 12 (and within that are various fractional divisions of one). Each time a measurement problem is given the children will have to think for a moment, adjust to the particular base, and then correctly ‘borrow’ from inches, feet or yards. We’ll learn about the historical ways in which time has been measured: the cycle of the year, the sundial, the hourglass, and digital clocks of today. The children will learn how to read an analog clock, and telling time will be a daily exercise. The children will also learn how to use a calendar and will make their own calendars.
In the second arithmetic block, we will work with number patterns and continue work on number lines. Long multiplication and long division (with one divisor) will be introduced. We will also explore how, as people traveled and traded with their neighbors, the necessity for money and standards in measurement developed.
The third arithmetic block will focus on volume and weight. We will explore these measurements through practical applications such as pouring cups into gallons, weighing objects and cooking projects. These practical applications will be a bridge to introducing simple fractions. All forms of measurement learned will be practiced through calculations.
Throughout the year the children will continue to review and expand their skills with the four operations and the times-tables. We will use strong rhythmic repetition less, and recall the times tables in a more random-accessed way. By the end of the year, it is my hope that every child in the class will be able to recite the times-tables from the 2’s to the 12’s (up to 12 x 12) and to be able to randomly answer such questions as ‘What is 8 times 7? What is 12 times 9?’ We will continue applying mathematical equations to word problems.
Form drawing will continue in skills classes throughout the year. This year, the big step for the class will be working with forms that meet and cross each other to create a new form out of their intermingling. We will also work with forms within a circle, lemniscate forms and transformations of straight lines into curves. Metamorphosis of forms will be practiced extensively.
Painting and modeling will also continue through weekly skills classes. This year, the children apply what they have discovered about color by creating picture motifs from our morning lesson work. Beeswax and plasticine modeling will include more detailed work, more complex forms, and cooperative work as the whole class works on one ‘panoramic scene’ together (ex. Moses parting the Red Sea).