elementary school - grades 1 to 5 - curriculum at-a-glance

Since its inception, Greenwood School has built upon proven Waldorf principles while embracing contemporary best practice educational methodologies. Examples include the multisensory and highly structured Making Math Real (MMR) program (http://www.makingmathreal.org); the Lucy Calkins’ writing method from Teachers’ College at Columbia University (https://readingandwritingproject.org); and our NEST (Nature and Environmental Studies) program.

Greenwood’s integrated curriculum focuses on how children develop and learn as well as what they learn.  Art, music, movement, nature and environmental studies are interwoven directly into the more fundamental subjects of math, science, reading and writing. The curriculum grows as the child grows.

The Elementary education focuses on establishing a core set of values and sturdy foundation for learning. Each year builds upon the previous. The children are introduced to their homeroom teacher with whom they will move through the next seven grades. This teacher becomes an expert on the children he/she serves, holding space and deepening relationships. Along with a team of math, language arts, music, movement, and Spanish specialists, teachers engage the children in a new way from the free play of the previous years as the curriculum grows and knowledge broadens.

Main Lesson - Students study one subject intensively for three or four weeks at a time allowing students to penetrate the topic with particular depth.

Student Books - As they learn, children create and illustrate their own ‘realtime’ books to record their experience with a particular subject.

Class Plays - Beginning in First Grade, all students participate in a class play, uniting the class artistically and socially, and emphasizing a thematic element of the main lesson.

Class Trips - Beginning in Third Grade, each class spends several days on an overnight trip, which ties back to and emphasizes an element of the year’s main lesson blocks.

Elementary Curriculum grade-by-grade

first grade

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Main Lessons:  Language arts includes: reading, approached through writing, pictorial and phonetic introduction to letters and speech through fairy tales, folk tales, nature stories; MMR math focus on place value, addition & subtraction concepts and processes; Nature & Environmental Studies.

Specialty subjects: Spanish; movement; music, including singing and flutes; handwork; developmental movement through non-competitive games..


second grade

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Main Lessons: Language arts includes: reading, writing, phonics, simple compositions, and speech taught through tales about saints, legends, animal fables, and nature stories; MMR math strategies for learning addition & subtraction facts, renaming in addition and subtraction, time, measurement, and study of shapes; Nature & Environmental Studies.

Specialty subjects: Spanish; movement; handwork; music, including singing and flutes; developmental movement through non-competitive games.


third Grade

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Block curriculum: Language arts includes: reading, spelling, speech, cursive writing, composition; Ancient Hebrew stories and introductory Hebrew language introduce history; Native American myths and stories; weights and measures, time, money, review and practical application of addition & subtraction, formal MMR math introduction to multiplication and division, factors and multiples; study of practical life, including farming, house building, fibers, fabrics, clothing, and cooking; Nature & Environmental Studies.

Specialty subjects: Spanish; movement; handwork; music, including introduction to violin, singing, and recorder; developmental movement through non-competitive games.

Class Trip:  In third grade, students typically spend two nights at a local area farm. This marks the first of many class trips.


fourth grade

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Block curriculum:  Language arts includes: literature, composition, grammar, speech, and spelling; MMR math continuation of the four processes, long division, fractions, and geometry; history, including Norse mythologies and sagas, indigenous people of California; local geography and map-making; science, including zoology (study of the animal kingdom); and Nature & Environmental Studies.

Specialty subjects: Spanish; movement; handwork; music — in orchestra, students may choose to move from violin to cello, viola, or bass — singing, and recorder; developmental movement through non-competitive games.

Class Trip: Fourth grade students spend three nights in the California Sierra Nevada foothills & gold country camping.


fifth grade

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Block curriculum: Language arts includes:  literature, composition, grammar, speech, and spelling; MMMR math including the four processes with fractions, decimals, ratios, and proportion; history of ancient civilizations, including India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece; geography of the United States in relation to vegetation, agriculture, and economics; science with a focus on botany; Environmental Studies.

Specialty subjects:  Spanish; handwork; woodworking; gardening; music, including orchestra—violin, cello, viola, or bass—singing, and recorder; cooperative and competitive games/physical education, including participating in the SF Bay Area Pentathlon of Waldorf Schools.

Class Trip: A multi-day visit to Jug Handle Creek Farm where students apply lessons from their NEST program and botany blocks.