History ~ Myth ~ Culture

Teaching History

Suggested Themes for the Curriculum in Waldorf Schools

Christoph Lindenberg



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This book has been written for practicing teachers as well as for parents with an interest in history and education. It encompasses an approach to history instruction that is appropriate to the various age levels from grades 5 through 12, and a view of history based on Rudolf Steiner’s symptomalogical approach. I think that anyone who reads it will find themselves inspired and energized in there preparation of history lessons, whether for students in a classroom or at home.

From Norway: Teaching History through the Grades

Waldorf Journal Project #8

Compiled and edited by David Mitchell

Spiral Bound


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There is a verse on the cover of this journal which speaks so clearly about the heart of both history within the Waldorf approach to education and about the articles in the book itself. I'd like to share it with you, in lieu of my usual review - you'll get to the point faster:

Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime, Therefore, we are saved by hope.

Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; Therefore, we are saved by faith.

Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone. Therefore, we are saved by love.

No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as from our own; Therefore, we are saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.

- Reinhold Niebuhr

Teaching History through the Grades covers the gamut from Grade 1 through 9, and contains articles written from the heart by European teachers.

In it you will find:

  • A Phenomenological Approach to the Subject of History by Oddvar Granly;
  • Fairy Tales and Legends by Jens Bjørneboe;
  • Through the Golden Forest by Leif Warenskjold;
  • What about the Old Testament? by Dan Lindholm;
  • Moses by Karl Brodersen;
  • Francis of Assisi by Dan Lindholm;
  • Sparta and Athens by Jørgen Smit;
  • The Romans by Christian Faye Smit;
  • Jeanne d’Arc, an Enigmatic Figure in the Middles Ages by Jørgen Borgen;
  • I and the Others, Strengthening a Seventh Grader’s Relationship to the World through History and Geography by David Brierley;
  • Modern History in Light of the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution by Sven Bohn;
  • The Ninth Grade and the French Revolution by Hans-Jørgen Hoinaes;
  • The Minute Man, an Aphorism of the True American Spirit by Wolfgang Schuster, M.D.

Teaching with the Fables

A holistic approach

Sieglinde de Francesca

teaching with the fable as: extended tale, poem, illustration, play puppet show & natural science lesson

Spiral Bound


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Teaching with the Fables is so much bigger on the inside than it looks to be on the outside. It is the finest book I have ever seen on the topic of Waldorf teaching, and hands-down the best, fullest, and most beautiful exposition of the fables and what they can become to a child of about 8 years old (2nd grade).

There is no question about Main Lesson teaching in general (not just for 2nd grade), it's rhythms and wherefores, its content and delivery that is not answered in this priceless gem. That the book itself is beautiful and also includes instruction for painting, sculpting and acting these timeless fables makes it one of the most valuable gifts ever to be put forth in the interest of our children. I am both moved and heartened that such a book now exists -- for surely, it has been hoped for by many for a very long time.

Sieglinde includes 3 extended fables with poems, illustrations and suggestions for additional lesson work. Here you can learn how to:

  • extend a fable into a full, engaging story
  • illustrate a fable with crayons and water colors
  • write a poem about the fable or its characters
  • create a play or puppet show about the fable
  • sculpt the fable characters with wax or clay
  • create a natural science lesson around a fable

Teaching with the Fables brings to the door of every teacher and homeschooler everything you need to share the beauty and joy of the fables with the 2nd graders in your care. Beyond that, it offers a lifetime of teaching wisdom and technique. It is truly a treasure.

Saints and Heroes

A Second-Grade Language Arts Block

Donna Simmons

Spiral Bound


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I am as excited as you are to see this long-awaited main lesson guide in print. Not only does it cover one of my very favorite subjects (who doesn't love stories about saints and heroes?), but Donna Simmons brings us wonderful tales from around the world alongside beloved Western favorites. Additionally, each beautifully told story concludes with suggested activities to accompany it - I found the activities so interesting that I found myself wanting to do them straight off. The lessons that can evolve from this book will be warm and rich -- and remembered long after 2nd grade is over.

It seems simplest just to tell you what you'll find inside:

  • An Introduction about Main Lessons
  • An essay, "What to Expect of a Second Grader"
  • How to Proceed: The Basics of Main Lesson Block
  • Other Points
  • Materials Needed

The stories are about:

  • Genevieve of Paris
  • Kun and Yu
  • Rabia of Basra
  • Nandanar and Lord Shiva
  • Fin MacCool, Hero of Ireland
  • Judah Maccabee and the Temple Miracle
  • Elizabeth of the Roses
  • Hiawatha, Bringer of Peace
  • Martin, Servant of the Christ
  • Francis and Clare
  • Basil the Holy Fool
  • The Baal Shem Tov

And, there's more:

  • Sample Main Lesson Pages
  • Other 2nd Grade Language Arts Blocks
  • More Ideas for Saints and Heroes

I have to confess that Saints and Heroes makes me want to adopt a second grader just so I can teach this block!

If you are using Saints and Heroes as part of a second grade Christopherus Curriculum, you might also enjoy:

Old Testament Stories Manual and Stories from the Books of Moses

Christopherus Homeschool Resources Third Grade Curriculum

Donna Simmons

Manual is 3-hole punched

Storybook is Tape Bound


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The Old Testament block for the Waldorf third grade is one of my favorites.  It answers so well the third grader's awakening awareness that they are no longer in the paradise of early childhood, but have stepped out of the "garden" and into a world where they may often feel a bit lost, a bit homeless as it were. 

This block begins with just that event, as told in the West by the foundational writings of Moses.  Once they are forced out of the Garden of Eden, the children of Adam wander, settle, prosper, fall into slavery and then emerge into freedom and a new land of milk and honey.  This block ends with Moses watching the Children of Israel cross the Jordan river into Canaan and their new home, and a beautiful culmination for our third graders.  (Following this block comes the practical activies block which includes cooking, farming and, yes, house building--as the stories sleep within the students, they spring to life through the work of their hands.)

Donna Simmons' Old Testament Stories Manual artistically and thoroughly captures the life of the Old Testament Block, as her Stories from the Books of Moses sensitively retells the key events in the seminal journey of the Hebrew people.  Whether you are using it at home or in a classroom, her guidance is just the right balance of detail and inspiring suggestions.  We think it is simply wonderful that she has made this curriculum available for so many children.

Contents of the Manual:

  • Introduction
    • Thoughts on Old Testament Stories
  • How to Proceed
    • Sample Schedule for a Six Week Block
    • Materials Needed
    • Artistic Activities
    • Wet-on-Wet Watercolor Painting
    • Writing Summaries
    • Related Activities
  • A Puppet Play: Joseph and His Brothers
  • Plus 7 templates for the puppet play and 10 full-page color reproductions of watercolor paintings

Contents of the Storybook:

  • The Days of Creation
  • Adam and Eve
  • Cain and Abel
  • Noah and the Flood
  • The Tower of Babel
  • Abraham
  • Isaac
  • Jacob
  • Joseph and His Brothers
  • Moses in Egypt
  • Moses in the Wilderness

If you are using Old Testament Stories as part of a third grade Christopherus Curriculum, you might also enjoy:

Norse Mythology and the Modern Human Being

Ernst Uehli

Translated by Rudolf Copple



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This is a valuable study of a mythology that has as much to do with the future of human evolution as it does with these old stories of the Norse gods. Uehli moves systematically through the major figures in this ancient saga, reflecting on the deeper meaning and showing why they are so valuable for children, especially those in the fourth grade. It will provide insight for teachers, parents, and other adults who hope to answer some of the life questions of today.

The Norse Stories and their Significance

Roy Wilkinson


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At first sight, the Norse stories appear to be a weird and wonderful collection of tales, illogical in sequence and with no coherent theme. . . . However that may be, there is in the Norse stories a great depth of knowledge and, fragmentary as they are, they are probably relics of old Mystery wisdom. They present a picture of evolution, of the creation and development of the human being and his connection with higher beings; they show the human being's struggle with adverse powers, the fading of the old world conception and the birth of the ego which leads to new powers of perception.

- Roy Wilkinson

Contains 28 stories, beautifully retold, with commentary by the author.


Ancient Mythologies

India - Persia - Babylon - Egypt

Charles Kovacs



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Yet another gift to teachers, parents and students from Charles Kovacs!

Stories of gods and demons, noble heroes and epic adventures from the world's great myths and legends, retold for children. Through colorful characters such as Buddha, Krishna, Zarathustra, Gilgamesh, Isis and Osiris, mankind's development from hunters of wild animals to builders of magnificent cities and the great pyramids springs to life. Beyond the historical narrative the stories reveal an ancient wisdom: the timeless source and substance out of which all myths and legends are woven.

Charles Kovacs told these stories to his Grade 5 students when he taught at the Edinburgh Rudolf Steiner School. Although he intended them as source material for teachers and parents of Waldorf School Children, the stories have a universal appeal for children and adults, beginning at about age 9.

Ancient Greece

Charles Kovacs

A Retelling of Greek Mythology and History According to the Waldorf Approach for Grades 5 & 6



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Told by a master class teacher, the myths and history in Ancient Greece open the doors to an understanding of the heart of Ancient Greek culture and life. These are stories that are sure to stay with students throughout their lives, the sort of tales that will come back to the adult time and time again. Charles Kovacs did a masterful job in the retelling of each story, and covered well the various aspects of the Fifth Grade curriculum on Ancient Greece.

Contains 54 stories in the areas of Greek Mythology, The Argonauts, Perseus, The Twelve Labours of Heracles, Theseus, Greek History, Alexander the Great.

Ancient Rome

Charles Kovacs


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Another priceless treasure by Charles Kovacs!

This book—written especially for Waldorf teachers—includes the most exciting stories of Roman history: the founding of Rome; early battles with Carthage and Hannibal; Julius Caesar and the conquests of Gaul and Britain; Antony and Cleopatra; and the decline and fall under the Huns and the beginning of the "Dark Ages."

Ancient Rome is recommended for Steiner-Waldorf curriculum class six (eleven to twelve year-olds).

Roman History - Main Lesson

Fully Revised 2nd Edition

Donna Simmons

Spiral Bound


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It is my hope that this "Main Lesson for Homeschoolers" reaches not only into many, many homeschools, but also beyond them and into classrooms. I also hope it finds its way not only into Waldorf and Waldorf-inspired teaching, but beyond it and out into the world. There is so much information and inspiration regarding the Roman History block, that teachers of all persuasions and in all situations can benefit from Donna Simmons' good work.

Roman History includes:

  • Why Study Roman History?
  • How to Use This Unit Study
  • Working with Teens
  • Key Elements in Roman History
  • Important Dates in Roman History
  • Summaries - written to be used as inspiration or "as is"
  • Drawings and Maps
  • Instructions for Two Art Projects
  • Quotes
  • Poems
  • Study Guides
  • Examples of Student Work
  • Resources

Recommended without reserve!

Teaching History - Volume 1

Ancient Civilizations - Greece - Rome

Roy Wilkinson


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The History curriculum for 5th and 6th grades in a Waldorf school follows the thread of development of the post-Atlantean cultures through Ancient India, Persia, Egypt and Chaldea, Greece and Rome. This provides a picture of the changing human consciousness from ancient clairvoyance to the loss of spiritual vision and, with it, the awakening of independent awareness and materialism. Wilkinson guides the teacher to a deeper understanding of the spiritual significance of mythologies and great epics, and shows how the ancient world points the way to the future.

Contents include:

  • Ancient India - The Ramayana, Krishna, Buddha
  • Ancient Persia - Zarathustra
  • Egypt and Babylon - Isis and Osiris, Gilgamesh
  • Greece - The Illiad, Theseus, Demeter and Persephone, The Odyssey, The Argonauts, Hercules, Prometheus, City-states, Biographies
  • Rome - Political development, Development of Christianity, Conquests and collapse, Biographies

Teaching History - Volume 2

The Middle Ages - From the Renaissance to the Second World War

Roy Wilkinson


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In the History curriculum for 7th and 8th Grades in a Waldorf school, the focus is on the developing individual human biography and consciousness, from the Renaissance and Age of Discovery to the great upheavals and new inventions in modern times. At any given time there are both backward-looking and forward-looking elements. This books follows a timeline through the history of Europe and North America. References suggest ways to weave in similar material from other cultures. These can also be included in Geography and Literature studies if the History period allotment is too confining.

Contents include:

  • Middle Ages - Teutons, Arab expansion, Charlemagne, Feudalism, Crusades, Church and State, Towns, Universities, Natural Science, Nationalism, Religion, England, Knights and Chivalry, Monasteries (6th Grade)
  • Renaissance - Art, Literature, Learning (Erasmus), Politics, Social Life, Discoveries, Commerce, Science, Biographies (7th Grade)
  • Age of Rationalism - Thirty Years' War, Louis XIV, Civil War in England, Russia, and America, Science and Culture, Prussia (Frederick the Great), Industrial Revolution, Colonization, American War of Independence, French Revolution (8th Grade)
  • 19th & 20th Centuries - Napoleonic Wars, American Civil War, Trade with the Far East, Empire building, Scientific investigation and its impact, Russian Revolution, Biographies, Capitalism and Communism (8th grade)

Medieval History

6th or 7th Grade Christopherus Homeschool Resources

Donna Simmons with Gabriel Newton Simmons

Clear Folder Bound


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Tour the Medieval world with Donna Simmons! And do it with confidence and enthusiasm under her expert tutelage.

If you've ever wondered how on earth to boil down the Middle Ages so that it can be presented meaningfully to 6th or 7th graders, here's your answer. Donna describes and then presents a symptomatic approach to history that offers students real insight without the need to mention every interesting detail (of which there are an overabundance for this period of history - something fascinating around every corner).

Along with enthusiasm and experience, you'll find these contents and more:

  • The Waldorf Approach to History
  • How to Use This Book - presentation and conversation, writing assignments, making a main lesson book
  • Key elements and dates of the Middle Ages
  • Summaries - written by Donna for your use as inspiration or class material
  • Charlemagne and Haroun Al-Rashid
  • How to Approach the Crusades
  • Sample work from the main lesson book of Gabriel (Donna's son) - drawings, a map and a short story.
  • Suggestions for art and craft projects
  • Vocabulary and Spelling
  • Quiz
  • Biographical sketches - William the Conqueror, Hildegard of Bingen, Thomas à Becket, Saladin
  • Medieval Literature
  • An annotated booklist

The Spiritual Background to Christian Festivals

Charles Kovacs



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The rhythms of the Earth can be seen, for example, in the daily cycle of day and night and in the yearly seasonal changes. Rudolf Steiner spoke of how Christian festivals such as Easter, Pentecost (or Whitsun), and Christmas fit not into only these patterns, but also into the macrocosmic rhythms of the cosmos and into the microcosmic human rhythms.

In this concise, readable volume, Charles Kovacs explores the structure of our calendar year and considers in detail the background to the various Christian festivals, including less popular St. John's Tide and Michaelmas.

The Spiritual Background to Christian Festivals offers inspiring insights into why we worship and celebrate at particular times, as well as discussions of the deep spiritual significance of the Christian year.

Curriculum Focus on Islam

Margaret Buie Keppie

AWSNA Waldorf High School Research Project



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In addition to presenting the results of a survey submitted to Waldorf high school educators, this report also focusses on emergent themes, current attitudes and perceived needs. Especially discussed are the willingness of Waldorf educators and students to meet diverse religious traditions with both respect and interest. Can the concept of spiritual literacy be applied to North American Waldorf high schools? What sorts of materials and training would best help expand the coverage of Islam with Waldorf high schools? What is the role, if any, of ethnocentrism in existing curricular choices concerning Islam?

Gazing into the Eyes of the Future

The Enactment of Saint Nicholas in the Waldorf School

David Tresemer

with contributions from Doal Samson and David Mitchell

Softbound booklet


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David Tresemer has given us a beautiful and thoughtful consideration of the Festival of St. Nicholas as it is enacted in Waldorf schools. I've always loved this festival and have seen how much it means to the children (of all ages) when it is enacted for them with sincerity and understanding. It is as thought the original gift of St. Nicholas were passed along to all of them, imbuing the walnuts and fruit with the gold that is love. In this little book, Tresemer captures it all.

The Table of Contents:

  • Gazing into the Eyes of the Future
  • The Light in the Eyes
  • The History of Saint Nicholas
  • Responses of the Various Grades
  • St. Nicholas in High School and the Gift of Fruit and Nuts
  • Rupert, the Dark Side, and the Demonstration of Karma
  • A Final Comment from Nicholas
  • The Teacher's Perspective by Donald Samson
  • Nicholas and Rupert - a Story Told by David Mitchell