Introduction to the First Year, Nature Science for the First Year


Begin with this book to gain an overview of teaching the first grade year including how to organize the block rotation of subjects, and the daily rhythm. There are also lists of the art supplies and materials that you will need through the year. First grade science begins with the near at hand right in the backyard or the schoolyard and the everyday objects one uses in the classroom. A simple pencil, when investigated with imagination, opens the child’s mind to the larger world such as the gifts from the earth given by the trees, the minerals in the ground (graphite), and plant and mineral dyes.

Books of the First Year Curriculum, The Introduction to Paper

The Books of the Live Education

First Year Curriculum

Introduction to the First Year Curriculum

and Nature Science for the First Year

This dual book is where you should start reading to gain an overview of the “big picture” of your First Year Materials as well as the Waldorf approach to teaching the First Grade. The included section on Nature Science describes the Waldorf approach to this topic and provides you with what is needed for daily lessons for three weeks, either to be taught in one block or interspersed throughout the year.

Beginning With Form Drawing

Form Drawing is a study of Geometry for the First Year. But you will see as you read the book, this geometry has an affinity with organic forms.

This is often the first block of the year and can last 3 weeks. In some cases, it may be too taxing for the young student finding themselves at a desk or table for the first time. So it will be prudent in those circumstances to spend only a week and a half on Form Drawing and then move on to the introduction of the letters. One can then add a longer block of Form Drawing later in the year or simply do one supplemental class per week, following the main lesson time.

From Moving and Speaking to Writing and Reading

This book leads you through the teaching of three blocks of study in Language Arts. The first block is a 5 week introduction to each letter.

The second block is a 3 to 4 week activity called Writing the First Reader where the learning of reading is integrated into learning to write.

The third block is a study of phonics through sound related word families. Here, words are categorized by the vowel sounds in conjunction with the final consonants, so among the related words sun, run, fun, bun, shun, one will also add the anomalies such as done, one, won, son, etc. Through this practice, the student will associate these words as sight recognition words along with those words in the family that ~Sfollow the phonics rules~T.

From Imagination to Form: the Letters A to Z

This is the companion volume to From Moving and Speaking to Writing and Reading. In this book you will find suggestions for a story for each letter as well as verses and alliteration for each letter. It will be used primarily for teaching the first 5 week language arts block on introducing the letters, mentioned above.

World of Numbers

This book guides one through the teaching of two blocks.

The first block of 3 weeks is an introduction to each of the numbers 1-12 as qualitative archetypes. The student learns of the manifestations in Nature of duality, trinities, the four-fold, etc.

The second block is also 3 weeks and introduces the four arithmetical processes [multiplication, division, addition, subtraction] as characters in stories.

This book also has a major section called Rhythmic Activities and Counting Games. These are often used as part of every morning~Rs activities preceding the presentation of the main lesson. You will see ahead in the block rotation schedule that these can be incorporated right away during the first block called Form Drawing.

Beginning Recorder, Song and Poetry

We suggest in the block rotation that a week or two week be spent on introducing the musical instrument. Thereafter, recorder can be a 15 minute practice three times weekly during the Opening Activities preceding the presentation of the main lesson.

During the one or two weeks of introduction, to fill out the morning lesson time, one can also include counting games from the Math book and even some Form Drawing.

Note to the Teacher: One can use either a wooden recorder (not plastic) or a Choroi flute for these activities.

The last section of this book includes poetry that can be learned throughout the year and then put together into a dramatic rendering at the end of the year. You will see in the block rotation schedule that 3 to 4 weeks are set aside at the end of the year for Review of the year, but also for Drama. The dramatic rendering is more fun if the whole family can be included, but can be done by a teacher with a student.

Lessons in the Arts

This book is devoted to guiding the teacher through the ~Shows~T of wet-on-wet water-color painting and crayon drawing. It is useful for teachers in grades 1 to 4, or any teacher beginning these techniques for the first time.

In the block rotation for the First Year, we set aside two weeks for the study of water-color painting as well as crayon drawing. During those weeks the main lesson may be comprised of two paintings each day. Thereafter, the teacher can set aside an extra time beyond main lesson once per week [often called a Practice Period in the Waldorf schools] for a water color painting.

The Art of the Fairy Tale

This is a collection of fairy tales that will comprise the content of many of your main lesson presentations. For example, many of the letters are introduced within the context of a fairy story.

This book contains an important section at the beginning on the archetypes in the fairy stories as well as the deeper meanings through an interpretation of the symbols.

The Introduction to Paper

Here is an example on how a class teacher might present a lesson as vignette [rather than a story] on one of the Everyday Objects from the Classroom. This is only a suggestion; the home teacher is free to alter the lesson in any way that she finds suitable. However, this model can serve as a guide on how one will present lessons on the beeswax, wool for knitting, pencils, etc.

A two-fold objective to keep in mind is: 1) that even the most ordinary things that surround us have a story to tell and are infinitely interesting when one supplies wonder and curiosity, and 2) when given consideration, the most mundane objects are something for which we can feel gratitude. When the teacher feels this to be a truth, no explanation is needed: it will be conveyed through your enthusiasm.


I have set before you a large piece of white paper and we shall soon be spreading color over it with our crayons. Let’s hold it up to a window for a moment. Do you see how it allows some light to pass through it? You probably don’t know that at one time, people used paper for windows when glass was not available. Of course, it had to be quite heavy to withstand any wind that might come along, so it was much thicker than even our heavy watercolor paper. Of course the thicker the paper, the less light can pass through, so only dim light illuminated a cabin with paper windows. But what happens when paper gets wet? You have seen how it starts to disintegrate, so a paper window wouldn’t last very long in the rain. But the early settlers on the prairie who had no glass would oil the paper. This made the paper waterproof and also the oil helped to make the paper a bit more transparent allowing the light to enter into the dark corners of the cabin.

Now we are not going to make paper windows, we already have glass windows that work fine, but we are going to learn many things about paper today before we use it to draw upon. You may think it is somewhat unusual to use paper for a window, but in the country of Japan, you will find that paper is used everywhere as a wall or room divider. You can hear everyone in the next room, but the paper wall allows people who are living close together to feel a little bit of privacy. But look at walls in many houses that are made of plasterboard. There you will see that this material is held together by a paper backing on both sides of the plaster, so one might say that our walls are also made with paper.

Where do you see paper used most often besides what we are using it for today in our classroom? Yes, one of the most common uses of paper is in our books. Remember how many books we saw in the library? That was a great amount of paper. And yes, we have the newspaper that we read. You know how quickly they can pile up within a week or two. Imagine the amount of newspaper we would have if we collected a week’s worth from all of the families we know. You can see that there is a tremendous amount of paper used simply for the newspaper. But of course, magazines, and mail, letters and circulars – these are also made from paper.

Let’s look around our house to see how many kinds of products are made from paper. After about a 15 min. tour of the kitchen, bathroom, garage, etc. the following was discovered:


boxes and containers made from cardboard

packaging for dozens of food products

milk cartons

tea bags and baking cups


paper towels

paper plates and cups

toilet paper

greeting cards

wrappers for food and other products

jig-saw puzzles

board games


playing cards

wrapping paper

art paper and watercolor paper

sand paper

roofing paper

masking tape

labels on cans

grocery bags

money and postage stamps

posters and poster board

and much more!

Now we see how useful paper can be, and also how it is an important part of our everyday lives. I am grateful for the many things that we are given because of paper. But where does the paper come from?

I am thinking of an animal that makes paper. Do you know what animal that might be? I will give you a hint; it is small and flies about. Yes, it is the wasp that makes paper. The wasp is an insect, and though insects are very much attuned to the plant kingdom, scientists do consider them to be a part of the animal kingdom. We can often look under the eaves of the house or garage or a protected area and see the nests of the paper wasp. [This would be an opportune time to observe such a nest directly] These nests that are suspended from a single stalk and are formed into a collection of chambers that have a hexagonal shape reminding us of the honey bee are made entirely of paper. The wasp gathers bits of wood and plant fiber, chews it into a pulp by mixing the fibers with its saliva, and then shapes this material into the nest. It is a bit sticky and holds together quite well once it has become dry. If you held it in your hand you would see that it feels like a thin wrapping paper. It is not white for it retains a lot of the color of the wood and plant matter from which it was made, so it is a grayish brownish color. In order for paper to become white, one must bleach it. The sun bleaches some things – you have probably seen how colors fade from cloth when it is left in the sun for a long time.

When you become a fifth grader, you will study about peoples known as the Ancient Egyptians who lived long ago. There is a great river that flowed through the heart of this land of Egypt where they built their cities and great pyramids. Along the bank of this river grow many reeds and rushes as tall as a man. Birds and waterfowl build their nests there and the crocodile and hippopotamus are nearby. There is a certain plant called papyrus that grows there, in fact, our word “paper” is derived from the word papyrus. The Egyptians cut this plant into strips, wet them, layered them upon a flat rock, and then began to pound them with stone until the fibers began to mash together. (Do you see how this is similar to the wasp chewing plant and wood fibers and mixing it with saliva?) The mashed fibers of the papyrus were smoothed and made flat. When dry, a very usable writing paper was the result. Thousands of writings of the ancient civilizations were created upon papyrus scrolls, and many of them have survived for thousands of years. Thousands of years later in another country known as China, far from Egypt, every day, a man watched the paper wasps building their nests. This gave him an idea. He stripped away bark from a mulberry tree and took from it, some of the finer inner bark. To this he added fibers that he shaved from a stalk of bamboo and then added water and began to pound and grind the fibers together with a kind of mortar and pestle tool. This made a big pulp which he then spread out flat on a cloth which allowed all of the water to drain off. When dry the pulp had become a flat sheet of paper that was lightweight, accepted ink, was long-lasting and easy to make. This made transport of documents much easier in China, for the books that had existed before the introduction of paper, were made of thick strips of bamboo. A small book made from paper that you might hold in your hand, would be a large rolled up bundle when written on bamboo.

But I still have not told you where all of the paper products that we found in our house have come from. What did the wasp gather? Yes, wood and plant fibers. The paper that surrounds us in our lives is made in factories in a similar way to what I have already described. It is made principally of wood fibers that are ground and mixed with water, made into a pulp, are then pressed and dried as flat sheets. It is that simple. But look at how much paper we found in our own house, and then think of how many people live in the cities. Surely a lot of wood fiber is needed to make all of that paper. When we have been on some travels I have shown you where the loggers have cut down many trees; often an entire forest disappears. Some of that wood has gone to making houses and wood products, but many of the trees are sent to paper mills where the bark is removed and the rest of the tree is ground into pulp for making paper. If all of the people continue to use as much paper as they do, soon there will be far fewer trees in our world. That is why we save and recycle our newspapers and cardboard – all of that material can be added to the big vats in the factories where the wood fibers are being made into pulp. The more newspaper and cardboard that can be used for paper manufacture means that fewer trees have to be cut down. We too, will care for this paper that we will use for our learning and not waste it whenever possible. And we thank the wonderful trees who have given us this gift.

Introduction to the First Year Curriculum

  • Introduction
  • The Books of the Live Education First Year Curriculum
  • Books You Will Need for Teaching the First Year Curriculum
  • Materials Needed for Main Lessons in Letters, Numbers, Form Drawing
  • Supplies Needed for Water Color Painting
  • Other Materials
  • How to Organize the Year; Teaching Using Block Rotations
  • A Block Rotation for First Grade
  • Rhythm in the Day and the Week
  • The Four Parts of the Daily Lesson
  • Opening Activities
  • Review
  • Lesson Presentation and Lesson Activity

First Year Nature Science: The Everyday, The Seasons; The Backyard

  • Introduction
  • Suggestions for Lessons
  • Three Weeks of Nature Science Lessons
  • Sample Lesson: The Introduction of Paper
  • Crafts Related to the Everyday Objects
  • Seasonal Nature Studies, Crafts and Activities
  • The Nature Table: Festivals and Nature Study
  • The Months and Nature Study: January to December –