This Week In First Grade: Science!
By Sarina Partridge, First Grade Teacher
This week, we continued our nature studies with stories of spiders, frogs, caterpillars, butterflies, beetles, and earthworms – oh my!
The children are so eager to learn about the world around them. One of the unique things about the Waldorf approach to science education is the emphasis on the children’s direct experience, and connecting all learning to each child’s feeling life. Rather than explaining what a spider’s life cycle is and how it builds its web, and teaching vocabulary words, I tell a story about a baby spider emerging from a cramped brown house and learning to build its first web—all the ups and downs, the many brothers and sisters, and the wonderful project of building its own home. The next day, we review not only the process the little spider went through building its web, but also share stories of times when we tried to build or make something on our own, and how we felt.
With this story, we also built our own class spider web, noting how difficult it is to make everything even and neat—and also built our vocabulary, noting which parts of the spider’s body it uses to do its work, and all the stages in its life cycle. Then, when the children write or draw in their lesson books about this subject, it is living in their hearts AND in their heads, and their hands work hard to translate it into their books.
The beauty of this way of learning science, I feel, is that it teaches not just the content but also a reverence and love for the natural world. This feeling—drawing from direct experience, learning with reverence for the world’s beauty and mystery—permeates how science is taught in the Waldorf curriculum.
Photo caption: Beeswax earthworms…and inchworms! We compared and contrasted them, and then pairs of children worked together to make one of each.