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Lower School


The Lower School encompasses first through eighth grades. Throughout this period, children learn best through strong experiences that stir the emotions. Kimberton meets that need by presenting subjects pictorially and dramatically, and by cultivating their imaginative capacities.

Drawing, painting, poetry, recitation, drama, singing and playing a musical instrument all build academic skills that deepen comprehension. Subjects as diverse as mathematics and grammar, woodcarving and knitting, sports and foreign language are taught imaginatively and artistically in widely divergent ways.

In each year, the curriculum offers content appropriate to the child’s development. This approach allows motivation to arise from within, laying the foundation for joyful lifelong learning.

First Grade
Main Lessons
Continuing Classes
Letters
Math
Form Drawing
Nature Stories
Foreign Language
Music
Flutes
Handwork
Eurythmy
Painting
Modeling
  • Lighting the Imagination through Stories in the First Grade
  • Awakening to the world around them and ready to learn in a new way

Developmental Picture of the Student
When students enter the first grade, they experience a significant transition from kindergarten to the grade school. In first grade the children are presented with archetypes of the human being through fairy tales. The characters in each story represent positive attributes – such as courage, honesty, and goodness – which can influence the young child’s emotional intelligence and social development.

How the Curriculum Meets the First Grader
The curriculum is built on daily routines that provide form, structure and rhythm for independent work and group activities. The first graders are introduced to the letters of the alphabet through oral storytelling and chalkboard drawings. Students practice sound and symbol relationships and begin writing short sentences. Literacy is strengthened through vocabulary development, poetry and stories. Students are introduced to the four primary mathematical operations through stories and supported experientially through rhythmic and physical activities, lively counting and sequencing work. Multiplication tables are introduced through rhythmic counting and movement such as running, hopping, jumping and clapping.

Science is approached through nature stories that personify nature and relate its processes and qualities in experiential terms that are meaningful. Art in the first grade includes beeswax modeling, form drawing, wet-on-wet watercolor painting and traditional drawing. Foreign languages are introduced which provide cultural exposure and develop memory, language and vocabulary skills. Children learn to knit to develop coordination, fine motor skills, focus and an understanding of patterns. Weekly singing establishes tone and pitch. Movement is present every day in recess, rhythmic movement and eurythmy to establish timing, coordination and spatial awareness.

Second Grade
Main Lessons
Continuing Classes
Language Arts
Arithmetic
Form Drawing
Fables and Animal Stories
Legends
Foreign Language
Music
Flutes
Handwork
Eurythmy
Painting
Modeling
Physical Education
  • Fables and Human Ideals in Second Grade
  • Engaging children with a strong picture of morality and responsibility

Developmental Picture of the Student
The theme of the second grade year is one of polarity. The children begin to awaken to their own and to other’s less desirable qualities, while at the same time feeling strongly drawn to the examples of human beings who have striven for an ideal.

How the Curriculum Meets the Second Grader
Through oral storytelling and the act of turning stories into writing, students work with daily practice on their developing language skills. An emphasis on language arts, form drawing, and nature stories prepares the second graders for writing and reading. The core stories involve heroic people from around the world, juxtaposed with fables. The contrast between these two types of stories engages children with a strong picture of morality. In written work and rhythmic movement exercises, students practice mastering the multiplication and division tables, as well as advanced addition and subtraction processes including transferring and place value. Form drawing (creating simple geometric shapes) is taught to bring balance and control to handwork and prepare the children for cursive writing. These challenging exercises develop the child’s cognitive ability and flexible thinking.

Children work with retelling and reenacting fables, which leads to writing of a short retelling of the fables. In developing reading skills, the children work on phonological and phonemic awareness and building sight-word vocabulary. Students practice spelling, phonics, punctuation, reading, sentence structure and capitalization.

Science is presented through nature and the seasons as well as happenings in the local area. Crocheting is introduced in handwork for continued work on coordination, motor skills and focus.

Third Grade
Main Lessons
Continuing Classes
Measurement
Stories of the Hebrew People
Farming
House Building
Language Arts
Foreign Language
Music
Recorder
Handwork
Eurythmy
Painting
Modeling
Physical Education
Wool and Textiles
Gardening
Form Drawing
  • An Awakening Sense of Self and the World
  • New capacities for thinking and judgment emerge

Developmental Picture of the Student
The central guiding principle of the curriculum of the third grade is a response to the changing consciousness of the child who is turning nine. They become self-conscious and more aware of their separation from others. Students begin to question, “Who am I in relation to others and to the world?” A child’s experience of the unity of all things matures into the awareness of a distinctly separate inner life. Strong opinions, likes and dislikes are emerging.

How the Curriculum Meets the Third Grader
The curriculum is meant to reassure, to nurture, and to help the child to move ahead with confidence through this sometimes-difficult transition. Each morning the children work through exercise in recitation, singing, flute-playing and rhythmic activities as a way of entering into the work of the day. The major themes for language arts study are taken from the Hebrew stories of the Old Testament. These stories serve as an appropriate metaphor for the child’s inner experience. The child understands on some level what it is to leave paradise, step into the real world, and begin to stand on his or her own. These stories speak to the child in an unconscious but deep way: “Others have done this before me; I am not alone in this experience.” In response, the curriculum connects them to meaningful, practical work such as house building, farming and gardening. Developing these skills builds confidence.

Math lessons continue to strengthen skills with the addition of daily mental math exercises and written drills. We introduce time, distance, weight and volume, and the use of money. Gardening classes enhance and support their study of agriculture by providing hands-on experience in our school garden. Students learn to plant seeds, harvest crops, and either eat them fresh or take them to the kitchen to be incorporated into our lunch program. In this way they get direct experience of knowing where their food comes from.

In PE, games are introduced that emphasize the wholeness of the group while allowing the individual to move and develop skills at one’s own pace. In eurythmy class this is the age to emphasize polarities in movement. In foreign languages, students acquire more vocabulary relating to daily life. In handwork, purling is introduced, with more complex concepts. Students begin to read music and are introduced to notes and the G clef.

Fourth Grade
Main Lessons
Continuing Classes
Math
Geometry
Language Arts
Human Being and the Animal
Local History through Geography
Norse Mythology
Foreign Language
Music
Orchestra
Handwork
Eurythmy
Painting
Modeling
Physical Education
  • A Growing Sense of Independence
  • An adventurous spirit, full of curiosity, and eager to explore

Developmental Picture of the Student
Fourth graders become more self-confident as their perceptions of the world sharpen. They also experience a stronger separation from their surroundings and become more independent. This awareness allows for increasingly, reflective observation and objective thinking. Thinking, which was energized and stimulated and enlightened through activity in the early years, is now increasingly influenced by the question, the interest, the challenges that arise in the feelings of the child.

How the Curriculum Meets the Fourth Grader
Norse Mythology is a theme of the fourth grade year. In the Norse myths there is a multiplicity of gods. They are fatally flawed, sowing the seeds for their own downfall with their greed, their jealousy, their anger, and dishonesty. The stories are full of life, laughter and sadness, and they speak in a powerful way to children who are themselves embroiled in a present conflict of joys and fears, questions about right and wrong, good and evil. The Norse stories impart the gifts and risks of growing into independent, free human beings.

Geography and history are woven together to give the students a sense of the interrelatedness of space, time and cultures. The fourth grader carries many questions – Who am I? Where do I come from? What is my place here? The studies of local geography and local history, the understanding of how we all came to be here, can help to meet and engage with such questions. Map-making helps the children to see themselves in relationship to their surroundings as they draw “bird’s-eye-view” maps of the classroom, the school grounds and surrounding areas. Studying the Lenape people and early settlers help the fourth grader to understand his/her own relationship to this time, this place.

Art in the fourth grade focuses on braided forms, knots and simple geometric forms. These forms challenge greater willpower and skill. Team games are introduced and movement class focuses on coordination. Fractions are introduced in math class as well as in music class with an emphasis on learning the division of the whole note.

Fifth Grade
Main Lessons
Continuing Classes
Botany
Math
Geometry
Ancient History
Greek Mythology and History
North American Geography
Language Arts
Foreign Language
Music
Orchestra
Handwork
Eurythmy
Painting
Modeling
Woodwork
  • A Year of Harmonious Balance
  • Epic quest of self-determination

Developmental Picture of the Student
The children in grade five enters a period of what can be called “The Golden Age” of childhood. This is a time when a young eleven-year-old can achieve physical harmony and balance. Often at this age, while the children develop a sense of justice and fairness with one another, it is a time when deep friendships can develop between classmates.

They develop an ordered sense of space and time, and hold a deeper understanding of personal responsibility and the ethics of right and wrong.

How the Curriculum Meets the Fifth Grader
Students learn the history of ancient civilization including India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece. These histories of human deeds and strivings present the child with a broad picture of the diverse experience of humanity. Students continue their study of ancient Greece in PE class and through a Greek Pentathlon with other regional Waldorf schools. Closer to home, students study the geography of North America and the multitude of contrasts on the continent. They look at mountains, rivers and prairies and biographies of individuals who seem to exemplify a particular geographical setting.

In mathematics, decimal notation is introduced with continued practice with fractions, multi-digit problem solving and word problems. They also learn freehand geometry to gain a sense of the structure of space and delineated form. Students study botany and create intricate drawings of plant parts, charts describing plant growth, compositions and poems about plant life. Language arts continues to strengthen with focuses on grammar, direct vs indirect speech, active and passive voice and prepositional phrases.

As the children begin to “walk out into the world” they begin to make socks in handwork as a perfect project to support this developmental journey. Eurythmy works on balanced and synchronous movement and the arts include painting, drawing, sculptural modeling and woodworking. The woodwork curriculum teaches proper work habits, shop culture and the ability to work on a long-term project. In music the students join the chorus and sing in two and three-part singing.

Sixth Grade
Main Lessons
Continuing Classes
Geology
Physics
Astronomy
Math
Geometry
Language Arts
Roman Mythology and History
Medieval History
Geography
Foreign Language
Music
Orchestra
Handwork
Eurythmy
Painting
Modeling
Woodwork
Gardening
Physical Education
  • Cause and Effect
  • Strong guidelines and clear differentiation concepts

Developmental Picture of the Student
The sixth grade student begins to expect a more consistent and rational worldview, a world that is orderly and logical with causal relationships. During this developmental stage, new capacities for thinking emerge. Twelve-year-olds on the cusp of adolescence, experience a new feeling of weight and gravity in their bodies. They become more aware of their own physicality and they need to feel that they now stand firmly on the earth. They are curious about cause and effect, and they expect straightforward responses to their questions and observations. The sixth grader’s world is delineated in absolutes; they make clear distinctions between right and wrong.

How the Curriculum Meets the Sixth Grader
The subjects in the curriculum that enhance the observation of the natural world and that provide for the historic and scientific perspective nourish these critical faculties. The developmental needs of the students are met through the methods of teaching geography, history, business math, astronomy, geology and physics.

The sixth grader is ready to understand cause and effect and the history curriculum shifts from mythology to the historical study of ancient Rome. They grasp the significance of cause and effect in the rise and fall of Rome. The Roman spirit of conquest and their civilization’s ability to dominate and transform the physical world with roads, buildings and aqueducts is inspiring, but the story has a cautionary side in the equally important consequences of the excesses of the Roman period.

The students’ increasing awareness of their physical bodies makes it the right time to study the physical “body” of the earth in geology. Students study rock formations and the forces that change the shape of the earth’s surface. In astronomy, the students study the relationship of the earth to the planets, starting from a geocentric perspective, just like astronomers of old. This self-centered orientation between earth and sky fits the students’ own perceptions. In physics, students are introduced to laboratory science. Science in a Waldorf classroom is always based on a study of the phenomena. The students carefully note their observations and experiences in acoustics, optics, heat, magnetism and static electricity.

In geometry, students use the straight-edge, triangle and compass to produce geometric forms within a circle. They will use a protractor to construct triangles and angles. Foreign languages strengthen vocabulary and grammatical rules. Movement works on balance, strength, coordination and graceful, rhythmic movement. Language arts include note taking skills, writing structures and editing.

Seventh Grade
Main Lessons
Continuing Classes
Physics
Physiology
Chemistry
Nutrition
Algebra
Geometry
Poetry and Ballads
Age of Exploration and Discovery
Renaissance
Reformation
Geography
Foreign Language
Music
Orchestra
Choir
Handwork
Eurythmy
Painting
Modeling
Woodwork
Gardening
Physical Education
  • An Age of Exploration
  • Innovative thinkers and a fearless need to question and defy authority

Developmental Picture of the Student
In the last three years of middle school the students begin to step into the time of ideas, where thinking becomes the predominant faculty through which they view the world. There is, in the seventh grader, a growing awareness of the world of fact and the reality of the world that children of this age want to explore. They want to understand causality in the world in all of its manifestations.

Seventh graders navigate two worlds. They carry an introspective inner life as well as an active, outer perspective. While the students may yearn for independence and solitude, there is also a strong desire to look outward and make social connections. Seventh graders may experience periods of emotional volatility, self-absorption, or youthful exuberance.

How the Curriculum Meets the Seventh Grader
The curriculum challenges the students’ cognitive and creative skills, promotes interest in the outer world, and nurtures their inner lives.

A theme of the seventh grade curriculum is the Renaissance, an age of exploration and discovery.   This period of history sparks the adolescent’s developing engagement with – and questioning of – the world.

The student’s hear historical accounts of innovative thinkers and courageous explorers whose ideas and actions challenged and changed the world. The core theme or renewal embodied in the Renaissance mirrors the adolescent’s rebirth into a new stage where thinking and feeling capacities expand. In geography, students learn about the environments, climates, and social structures of indigenous cultures in Africa or South America.

In the arts, they paint in the style of the Renaissance masters, learn perspective drawing, and explore light and shadow. In language arts, students practice note taking, write essays and write research papers. Poetry writing gives the students an opportunity to express their observations of life and to explore their own inner feelings. Eurythmy explores movement to music or poetry.

Seventh graders advance their conceptual thinking with an introduction to algebra. They move from simple logic structures to more complex problem solving and abstract reasoning.

In physics and chemistry, the students use their senses to make objective observations of scientific phenomena. They study mechanical force and simple machines, acoustics, magnetism and heat. In chemistry the students explore the lime cycle, salts, acids and bases. The human physiology block focuses on health issues that relate to the growing adolescent, including digestion, respiration and circulation.

Eighth Grade
Main Lessons
Continuing Classes
Chemistry
Physics
Meteorology
Physiology
Algebra
Geometry
History – 1700 to present
Shakespeare
Grammar
Geography
Foreign Language
Music
Orchestra
Choir
Handwork
Eurythmy
Painting
Modeling
Woodwork
Gardening
Physical Education
  • Polarity, Balance and Revolutionary Change
  • Building self-confidence, independence and social bonding

Developmental Picture of the Student
The theme of eighth grade may be summed up as that of polarities. Virtually everything we study is approached from two perspectives, or, at the very least, leads students to see for themselves that there may be two good answers for any one problem, two sides to any one issue. Students will learn that even a math problem may have two completely different, yet perfectly correct, answers.

The emphasis on duality arises as the curriculum tries to meet, nourish, and balance the powerful polarizing forces in the eighth grader, such as sympathy and antipathy, joy and sorrow, love and hate, good and evil, contraction and relaxation, etc. Whether we are exploring the complexities of history from Reformation to Revolution, plumbing the mysteries of how opposites attract in magnetism, or what positive and negative implies in electricity, the themes of polarities and balance are of central importance.

The eighth graders’ sharpened observational skills and growing critical faculties open possibilities for new ideas and perceptive questioning. With growing independence and reasoning they strive to balance a tender emotional inner life.

How the Curriculum Meets the Eighth Grader
The thread in eighth grade history is the striving to harmonize circumstances in the realm of human rights. The perception that all men must be equal under the law was intellectually established during the Enlightenment and began to be realized in practice at the time of the French Revolution.

The parallel streams in North America, the ideas of universal human rights, the struggles for independence resulting in the formation of the United States, are also addressed. The students also learn about the complete change of living conditions in the industrialized countries during the Industrial Revolution and consider the resulting social questions that have not yet been solved today.

In physics, the curriculum continues with the study of electricity, magnetism, heat, and light. Building on the history of the Industrial Revolution, the class studies the physics of aerodynamics and hydromechanics. In chemistry, students analyze the organic processes in the human body related to nutrition and health, and in physiology they learn how many of the laws of physics are incorporated in their own bodies.

The study of world geography meets the adolescent’s growing interest in environments, regions, and cultures different from his or her own. The study of meteorology helps to expand their understanding of atmospheric conditions in different parts of the world.

The eighth grade Shakespeare play is an important milestone in the drama program, the culminating act of years of working together on performances, recitations and oral presentations. Through their work on the play, students gain confidence in their memorization and public presentation skills.

Language arts focus on the development of sound essay writing techniques as well as proof reading and editing skills. In science, students practice observational skills of phenomena, explain and write experiment details and draw conclusions. Students learn simple joinery in woodworking; sewing in handwork; singing in parts; cord progressions; orchestra repertoire in music; and technical details in eurythmy.

Handbook

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410 West Seven Stars Road Phoenixville, PA 19460

Mailing Address: PO Box 360 Kimberton, PA 19442 admissions@kimberton.org