Johann D Wyss
Here’s a story that can bring an element of adventure and fantasy to the “house building” theme of the Waldorf third grade. Between the ninth year (age 8) and about age 10, children experience a sense of uncertainty when they look about the world. A lot is changing for them, and one of the biggest changes is that they now feel separated from the world in a way that is new to them.
The themes of the Waldorf third grade answer that uncertainty by focusing first on the Old Testament stories of wandering in the desert followed by the entry into the Promised Land and the ultimate “house building,” that of the Temple in Jerusalem. Then, house building and farming become more concrete and personal within the theme: often, actually houses are built, garden plots tended and books such as Farmer Boy are read.
It is somewhere during or after this second half of the year that a book like Swiss Family Robinson can be a real treat. Here is a family who is shipwrecked and must start from scratch with no one but themselves on a desert island. Their resourcefulness and adventures are just the ticket for any child during this time. I can remember nearly devouring the book when I was about nine – I must have read it three or four times that year. Even the parts that are a bit far-fetched (how did Mother manage to put everything they’d need into that one bag, anyway?) make perfect sense to a child (after all, doesn’t God always provide?), and the characters are all admirable and vigorous.
This is another favorite from my own childhood – I hope your children enjoy it as much.