Swadha - A Steiner School

Grade 5

At this age the children attain a certain ease and grace of movement that comes naturally to this age. Movement that is coordinated, balanced and harmonious is a key-note of the developmental phase. The individual ‘will’ element begins to grow, the awareness of ‘self’ strengthens and socially, a powerful group dynamic surfaces with a class. Cognitively, children are more able to understand questions and phenomena in a realistic and reasoning manner. The pictorial element in thought processes remains an important element in a child’s consciousness although the understanding and formulation of concepts are beginning to depend less on the development of individualized images and thought pictures and more on the development of a faculty for comprehending clear, matter-of-fact, sense-free concepts. They leave early childhood behind but are yet to entre puberty. Each child appears as a strong personality with distinctive gifts, talents and challenges but is still essentially childlike in its manifestation. The children still respond well to imaginative stories and well-formed rhythms in teaching. The teaching needs to be challenging and lively if it is to engage the strengthening will of the children.

This year aims to make the transition from myth to history and its emphasis on the individual. The children should develop a greater consciousness of the interrelatedness of life and environment – particularly through the study of botany. There is an emphasis on the original Olympian ideal in which group distinctions are subservient to the greater whole and in which qualities such as beauty are as valued as speed and distance.

I. Geography

Geography as a lesson must give the children an interest in the world. They must learn to understand the earth as a natural space with specific life rhythms.

Building on the local geography of class 4, the children in class 5 move to the geography of the country. India with its vastness is a great resource for polarities in physical and climatic aspects.

Objectives for class 5:

  • Understanding the physical features of India.
  • The climatic conditions and vegetation related to these physical features.
  • Understanding the topography of India. Printed maps deaden the liveliness and hence the same are avoided. The liveliness of drawing maps are included and the children develop skills to develop the topographical map of India.
  • To connect the physical features of the region with professions.

II. Mathematics

In class 5, we continue with fractions and introduce Decimals and help children to calculate freely with whole and fractional numbers.

Objectives for class 5:

  • Fractions
    • Student should become fluent working with common and unlike denominators.
    • All 4 processes with common fractions and mixed numbers to be practiced.
    • Practice of 4 operations in fractions.
  • Decimal fractions
    • The number world of decimal fractions in introduced.
    • Introduction of the relationship of decimals to place value.
    • Introduction of decimals and calculation with decimals.
    • Recognition of connections between decimal numbers and decimal fractions.
  • Measurement
    • The metrics system is introduced which is integrated with decimal fractions.
    • Distance, weight and capacity of the metric system is introduced.
    • Measurements using decimals.
  • Geometry
    • Free hand geometry: The students create many beautiful drawings of circles, squares, triangles, angles, divisions of the circle, etc. all free hand, without the aid of rule or compass. The accuracy required with this takes great focus and will.
    • To bring an imaginative picture of the Pythagorean Theorem at this time. To introduce perimeter and area.
  • Constant practice in 4 operations, both mental work and written exercises in natural numbers.
  • Learning calculation of Least Common Multiple and Highest Common Factor.
  • Free hand geometry.

III. Plant Kingdom

This age reflects the relative calm of puberty before the storm of adolescence. Elegance and harmony are visible in the children’s running and gymnastics. It is an appropriate time for the study of plants, whose growth and movement have quiet beauty of form, gesture and colour. The aim is also to deepen children’s sensitivity for the earth as a living organism. Every plant needs to be observed in the context of its relationship to the landscape, the soil and the climate. A single plant in a pot or, worse, cut up and examined under a microscope speaks of isolation and fragmentation and such studies belong to the upper school. Children of this age need to appreciate the range of plant forms over the earth, the gestures of typical plant species, the relationship to soil and development from the seed to flower and fruit.

  • Familiar local landscapes and types of plants that grow there. To learn the common names of local plants and trees.
  • Contrast of vegetation of different regions over the earth: desert, forest, tundra, etc.
  • Some of the major plant types e.g. fungus, lichen, moss, ferns in relation to the flowering plants and the evolutionary considerations.
  • Concept of root, stem, leaf and flower discovered through their polarities in different plants.

IV. History

Children are introduced to the ancient cultures of India, Persia, Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. Following this comes a background of Greek mythology comes Greek history from Homer’s time to its encounter with oriental culture at the time of Alexander’s campaigns

The methods used give children a vivid concept of space and time in a living and a pictorial way. The pupils recite and sing texts and verses from the various cultural epochs.

  • Mythological content from the ancient Indian Vedas and Upanishadas.
  • The ancient Iranian culture: development of sedentary communities; beginnings of faring and animal husbandry; the life of Zarathustra.
  • The city cultures of Mesopotamia; the epic of Gilgamesh.
  • Ancient Egypt and the great achievements of the Egyptian culture such as pyramids, royal graves and irrigation systems.
  • Ancient Greece: The stories, figures and the events from the ancient Greece, Alexander and the spread of Greek culture.
  • Legends from Ancient China.

V. Art studies

The ever-changing colour processes in nature reveal the forces at work in the plant: sun forces and earth forces, light and darkness. An initial painting exercise can be linked to these polar opposite effects.

As mentioned above, painting can echo or take up the themes of the main lessons. It is not a question of painting illustrations but of letting the colours of nature find their own forms. In this way the painting lessons can provide a qualitative deepening of themes that come up in the main lesson. At the same time themes from plant studies can provide an opportunity to take what has been seen and heard into their painting lessons well.

  • Develop plant moods from green and yellow
  • Contrast ‘rose red’ and ‘lily white’ with the pink-white of water lilies. Find the qualitative difference between ‘moss green’ and ‘birch green’
  • From now on the children can begin to work with subtler differentiations and nuances of colour.
  • Rather than observing the wonderful coincidences of a water colour picture, when the lessons are observed and discussed, we now look more at the way the children have consciously sought to discover and consciously create colour differences.
  • Maps can be painted showing the qualitative differences between coastline and ocean, river forms, mountains and plains, etc.

VI. Form drawing, drawing and graphics

In class 5, form drawing leads to elementary geometrical drawing. Once again the starting point can be the polarities of the straight line and curve. To enable the pupils to gain an intense experience of these, it is good to begin with free hand drawings without compasses or ruler.

Although we are still only at the very beginning of geometry, it is important to give the pupils a sense of the dimension of geometry that goes beyond practical applications and leads to the solution of the ultimate riddles of the world and life. This is easiest done by letting them appreciate not only the laws that govern geometry but also the beauty of its forms and their strictly regulated mutual dependence.

VII. Clay modelling and sculpture

In the plant main-lesson, children begin with a sphere or egg-shape, make buds, fruits and other plant forms. Human figures can be made, at first standing then sitting. Figures that work with the whole form as an entity, with arms and legs unarticulated are easier for children before dealing with the static problem of legs. Later the arms can move away from the body and the legs can take up a stance.