Lower School

Making The World You Want to Live In

At the Waldorf School of Philadelphia, citizens are developed from the ground up. From woodland explorations along the Wissahickon to a finely honed sense of community, our elementary school students are on their way to becoming stewards of both the natural world around them and the people in it. The roots of stewardship they plant today will continue to flourish within them for generations to come.

First Grade

First grade is truly a new beginning. The Waldorf first grader is learning how to learn. Learning from and with one another, and learning from the world around them. First graders are deeply connected to people, animals, nature and the sun and the moon.

Waldorf teachers exercise this consciousness by nurturing a deeper reverence for the environment, respect for others and interest in the world. Social interaction with their peers and teacher sets the groundwork for wholeness and unity within their class.

A love of language starts with nature stories and fairy tales. Letters become actual characters with which students develop a relationship. In arithmetic, students begin by experiencing the qualities of numbers, instead of seeing them as abstract symbols. From here, students explore addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division through physical objects. Through the rhythm of each day, the first grader's world is filled with richness and beauty and possibility.


Main Lesson Topics
The alphabet, form drawing, arithmetic, nature stories and fairy tales

Special Subject Lessons
Spanish, games, choral music, handwork, eurythmy, drawing, painting, modeling, drama, flute

Second Grade

Second graders are discovering the world around them. It’s a period of magical discovery as they develop alertness and observation skills. With this heightened awareness, students begin to experience the positive and negative aspects of personalities – both their own and those of others. We use the characters of fables and saints to explore contrasting human qualities and how they overcome obstacles and weaknesses. Through handwork, we combine different textures and materials to see how many differences can coalesce.

In language arts, the children learn lower-case letters and they write and read longer stories. An emphasis in arithmetic is placed on the multiplication tables and on the relationship between the four processes. We draw deeper into artistic approaches as our children awaken their intellects in this eye-opening year.

Together we harmonize polarities to develop a sense of wholeness as children adapt to the beauty around them.


Main Lesson Topics
Fables and animal stories from around the world, language arts, form drawing, arithmetic

Special Subject Lessons
Spanish, games, choral music, handwork, drawing, painting, modeling, eurythmy, drama, flute

Third Grade

In third grade, children begin to spread their wings. They are developing a sense of individuality and separateness from others. They are discovering personal boundaries through play and new experiences. And with this mental growth, third graders are increasing in physical strength and rapidly growing. They are engaging with their surroundings and cultivating a new interest in the practical, material world. We foster this with lesson blocks about farming and building. The students will apply numeracy and literacy skills with practical applications, such as measuring and weighing.

After a wonderful experience of being at one with the world, students in the third grade begin to experience themselves as separate beings.

To help express their growing individuality, we introduce the formal study of grammar through the parts of speech and cursive writing.

Main Lesson Topics
Arithmetic and measurement, farming, building, Hebrew scriptures, language arts, grammar, cursive writing

Special Subject Lessons
Gardening, textiles, Spanish, games, choral music, handwork, drawing, painting, modeling, eurythmy, drama, recorder

Fourth Grade

Fourth graders are entering the heart of childhood. They feel confident, independent and eager to take on new challenges. They have transitioned out of early childhood and feel ready to dive into a vibrant, inspiring curriculum.

We study the gods of Norse mythology, who are full of vigor and strength that mirror the students’ vitality. Students learn about zoology in life sciences, appreciating the freedom of the human existence.  There is greater immersion in fractions, a continuation of developing vocabulary and grammar and a sharpening of their perception of the world. The students are beginning to learn about their place in the world, both socially and geographically, grasping a comparative sense of self.


Main Lesson Topics
Local geography and history, fractions, language arts, grammar,  and comprehension, zoology

Special Subject Lessons
String orchestral instrument, woodworking, sculpture, eurythmy, recorder, physical education, choral music, handwork, drawing, painting, modeling, drama, Spanish language including Grammar

Fifth Grade

Fifth grade in a Waldorf school is usually referred to as the golden year.  Students are developing confidence in academics, art, and movement.The students are graceful, moving with agility and harmony through friendships and the demands of adolescence. Their capacities are flowering in every area.

Lessons are based around the ancient civilizations of India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece, embracing individual excellence and group collaboration for a common goal. In the spring our students participate in a Greek Pentathlon with fifth-grade students from other Waldorf schools.  This competition involves the discus, javelin, wrestling, long jump and running, and is held in the same spirit of truth and beauty as the ancient Greek competitions.

Fifth grade marks an important transition from mythology to history. Fifth graders learn the geography of the North American continent, freehand geometry, factoring, and decimals. In science they study botany, comprehending the inter-relatedness of life and environment.  In language arts, students continue to build on their skills in grammar, reading, and writing. Students’ faculty of comprehension is growing along with their capacities for understanding abstract concepts.


Main Lesson Topics
North American geography, Greek mythology, and history, ancient history, arithmetic introducing factoring, decimals and averages, freehand geometry, botany, language arts

Special Subject Lessons
Physical education, pentathlon, Spanish, choral music, orchestra, handwork, gardening, drawing, painting, modeling, eurythmy, drama, recorder