The Curriculum of the Steiner School - Class 1

Notes and Lesson Plans

Four Seasons & Poetry
updated March 30, 2017

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The Four Seasons
for Class 1

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I'll be completely honest and say that this block has always somewhat baffled me.

I read somewhere long ago that the two Science blocks in a Waldorf first grade are the Four Seasons and the Four Elements (water, earth, air, fire). This sounds easy enough but when it comes time to teach it, I run into problems.

Am I just celebrating each season as it comes, setting up my Nature table and doing my festivals??

Am I creating a main lesson book for this??

Are we talking about the Hawthorn Press "Holy Trinity" (a.k.a. Festivals Series) of The Children's Year: Seasonal Crafts and Clothes, All Year Round: Christian Calendar of Celebrations, and Festivals Family and Food?? Something more?? Something less??

This page deals with my attempt to resolve these questions but it is NOT to be construed as the final word on what should be included in this Waldorf main lesson block.

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Books to Buy

I think the best thing you can do for this block is to buy the excellent Nature Activities for Children series by Irmgard Kutsch and Brigitte Walden. These books are organized very thoughtfully, with specific topics to teach each month and three months included in each seasonal book. For every topic a number of detailed projects are provided, with instructions and photographs.

Spring Nature Activities for Children

    March - Nesting; Sowing, Sprouting, Growing
    April - Creating Garden Spaces
    May - Plant-Based Dyes and Paints; Milk Processing; Beekeeping

Summer Nature Activities for Children

    June - Working with Herbs; Breeding Butterflies
    July - Water; Earth; Air; Fire
    August - From Grain to Bread

Autumn Nature Activities for Children

    September - Harvesting Fruits and Vegetables
    October - Basket-making; House-building
    November - Caring for Birds; Working with Beeswax; Making Paper

Winter Nature Activities for Children

    December - Advent
    January - Working with Wool
    February - Working with Willow; Woodworking; Working with Clay

If you choose to incorporate the writing of Poetry, my favorite book for teaching this subject is Awakening the Heart: Teaching Poetry in Elementary and Middle School by Georgia Heard.

Recorded here is my own personal collection of articles, resources, favorite links, teaching ideas, and lesson plans. It encompasses many years, from the very beginning of my experience studying and learning about Waldorf to the present time. People from all around the world visit my site and recommend it to others. Welcome!

This site records my journey. I hope my honesty is encouraging and helps break down some barriers that may prevent people from trying Waldorf methods. Because this is an ongoing site documenting my curriculum planning and ideas, some materials are more Waldorf-y than others. Please feel free to take what you like and leave the rest.

To introduce the four seasons, I like The Magic Plum Tree by Freya Littledale

I chose to make this into a Language block of poetry celebrating the four seasons as a way to create a main lesson book for this topic.

I also chose to include seasonal celebrations and traditions throughout the year, and to separate out the Four Elements as its own main lesson. I do feel, however, that people can easily spread a study of the four elements throughout the year just as I chose to do with the seasons.

I chose to incorporate the Waseca Biomes material, which is a Montessori material, into our study of the seasons. This would be a good tie-in if you have an older child who is doing Geography, but it's more scientific and academic and truly not very Waldorf-appropriate for first grade. I have a mixed age homeschool co-op, however, and so this was an appropriate choice given this situation.

The Waseca materials I have so far purchased and used are:

I last taught this in Autumn 2016. We framed our study of the Four Seasons in a very Montessori way, beginning the block with The First Great Lesson and ending it with The Second Great Lesson.

The Five Great Lessons of the Montessori Curriculum are by far the most Waldorf-y of all the aspects of the Montessori approach. These wonderful impressionistic and vibrant lessons are done through oral storytelling, with children sitting in a circle, a candle lit in a darkened room, and large playstand canopy silks covering a carefully designed series of chronological pictures, artifacts, and demonstrations which are slowly revealed as the stories progress.

Here are the Waseca activities from the Introductory Biome Lessons which I used:

    October 17 - biome jars activity

    October 24 - parts of the biome nomenclature cards, make booklet (page 3 of free biome masters PDF, copy 7 sheets per child)

    October 25 - First Great Lesson with starry night silk, artifacts, and demonstrations (notes in my blog post)

    October 27 - parts of the globe nomenclature cards, no booklet, activities from free biome curriculum PDF Climate Zones & The Reason for the Seasons

    October 31 - activities from free biome curriculum PDF Air Cycle Ballet, read The Drop in My Drink: The Story of Water on Our Planet by Meredith Hooper, make water cycle in a ziploc bag (notes in my blog post)

    November 1 - read How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World by Faith McNulty, layers of the soil nomenclature cards, make booklet (page 11 of PDF, 6 sheets per child)

    November 3 - The Four Components of Productive Soil lesson (notes in my blog post), The Apple Lesson

    November 4 - send home with each student the base of a celery plant in a bowl with some water, let them observe over the weekend (growing celery indoors blog post from 17 Apart)

    November 7 - parts of a flowering plant nomenclature cards, make booklet

    November 8 - set out supplies for all five nomenclature booklets and cards, allow students to choose which set the are most interested in, order of evolution (fish, amphibian, reptile, bird, mammal)

    November 15 - Second Great Lesson with blue silk and green silk, artifacts, and demonstrations

Here were the poetry activities we did:

    Autumn - haiku
    Autumn - acrostic poem

    Winter - focus on imagery
    Winter - focus on rhyme scheme

    Spring - concrete poem
    Spring - poem for two voices

    Summer - shell poem (craft activity)
    Summer - community poetry project (activism)

My blog posts from teaching this topic:

My absolute favorite haiku book is Red Dragonfly on My Shoulder by Sylvia Cassedy.
Other good haiku books:

My favorite book for teaching about rhyme scheme is Pattern Fish by Trudy Harris.

Best books for lots of examples of poems for multiple voices!

A few other options:

Best book for lots of examples of concrete poems!

    The Hutchinson Treasury of Children's Poetry

    edited by Alison Sage

    "Do Not Disturb the Dinosaur" by Gina Douthwaite (page 114)
    "Seal" by William Jay Smith (page 111)
    "The Man Who Wasn't There" by Brian Lee (page 104)
    "Sweet Tooth" by Gina Douthwaite (page 102)
    "I'd Like to Squeeze" by John Agard (page 163)

A few other options:


Poetry Speaks to Children (Book & CD) is valuable for another lesson as well.

Poetry is always being changed by the poet until the rhythm and flow of the words is just right. In this book, the author of "On Turning Ten" changes the poem slightly when he reads it aloud on the CD recording. Can you find what is different?

Thanks, Billy Collins, for helping us to give a great example of this to children! It is a published book but he didn't care... it didn't feel right when he said it out loud and he gave himself permission to change it. I love that!

Older versions of this block:

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