Starting with Greek mythology, moving into Greek history and ending with Alexander is really a stroke of brilliance on the part of the Waldorf curriculum. Vincent was absolutely enchanted by the myths of the Greek gods and heroes, but he kept wanting to know where the line of reality was drawn. Was the Trojan war real? Did the Argo really sail? How could the gods have fought with real men? I just let these questions linger and (once again!) found it fascinating how well the curriculum corresponds with child development. He didn’t ask these questions when we did any of the other mythologies – and there was plenty of opportunity: Norse, Indian, Babylonian, Persian, Egyptian. Just Greek . . . that Steiner . . . he knew a thing or two.
I’m so glad we waited until the very end of grade 5 to do this block for a couple of reasons. Ending the block (and the year) with the figure of Alexander the Great allowed us to review all the other cultures we studied this year. Vincent was very familiar with the geography, and was able to visualize the places Alexander conquered. He also had a sense of the Persians, the Babylonians, the Egyptians and the Indians as people before they were taken over by Alexander’s army. Donna Simmons stresses this concept when teaching history and I agree it is essential to have a sense of what came before the conquerors/explorers.
The other reason I am happy we waited until the end of the year is because Vincent and I are both tired of doing school. LOL. If we did Greece earlier in the year, I think we could have just gone on and on: more myths, more heroes, more history, more pita bread, more stuffed grape leaves . . . until we both ended up in a Dionysian stupor! We never watched the BBC movie, In the Footsteps of Alexander. The weather was just too beautiful to be inside watching TV. If we get a string of super hot or rainy days this summer, we may watch it then. If not, that’s okay. We have done enough. We are currently reading A Little History of the World by EH Gombrich and completing our timeline. Both activities are engaging and providing an excellent historical account of civilization up through Greece.
- Ancient Greece, Charles Kovacs (I used this book as our spine and loved it. Hands down, Kovacs is my favorite Waldorf resource for mythology and history.)
- Mythology: Greek Gods, Heroes and Monsters, Candlewick Press (This is a popular mainstream book, but I found it to be a good supplement for Vincent to read on his own.)
- D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths (I used this as a secondary spine and for Vincent’s independent reading. The drawings are inspirational.)
- Voices of the Trojan War, Kate Hovey (Vincent read some of this on his own, but I’m putting it on our read aloud shelf for summer.)
- Archimedes and the Door of Science, Jeanne Bendick (This is a Mama recommendation and will go on our read aloud shelf also.)
- Famous Men of Greece, Poland and Haaren (Vincent read parts of this on his own. I also (accidentally) purchased the teacher’s guide. I found it a good resource and gave Vincent a quiz and a crossword puzzle. I ordered the same set for Rome next year.)
- Alexander the Great, Demi (I was so happy to discover this author! The biography is visually stunning with the perfect amount of information. The map of Alexander’s conquest is excellent.)
- Created a visual representation of the Olympians – painting, drawing and modeling.
- Worked with the Greek alphabet
- Modeled Artemis and Apollo’s bows out of beeswax
- Folded an origami peacock as a symbol of Hera
- Planned and cooked many Greek foods
- Created a deck of playing cards based on Greek mythological and historical figures
- Worked with dictation, summarizing and copying information about Greece
- Wrote a short summary on Athenian life from the first person point of view