The Curriculum of the Steiner School - Class 2

Notes and Lesson Plans

Famous Inventors
updated January 17, 2023

Recorded here is my own personal collection of articles, resources, favorite links, teaching ideas, and lesson plans. It encompasses many years, from the very beginning of my experience studying and learning about Waldorf to the present time. People from all around the world visit my site and recommend it to others. Welcome!

This site records my journey. I hope my honesty is encouraging and helps break down some barriers that may prevent people from trying Waldorf methods. Because this is an ongoing site documenting my curriculum planning and ideas, some materials are more Waldorf-y than others. Please feel free to take what you like and leave the rest.

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Famous Inventors
for Class 2


Back in 2016 I had a little girl in our homeschool co-op with a very engineering mind. Her family had already told her all of the stories of the Saints for many years, and so I was looking for a topic more along the lines of Virtuous People. I hit upon the idea of doing a block of Great Inventors! They have amazing stories, and were a huge inspiration to her.

Now I have another little girl as a tutoring client with exactly the same sort of mind, and I remembered about this twist on this block. It's such a great topic when you're eight! Here are my notes from teaching it the first time and from teaching it again in 2020.

Books to Buy

Use the library for this block!

Here is the blog post I wrote when first brainstorming this block, plus the insertion of some new books I've discovered:

While my older group is doing Physics as their next main lesson block, my younger group will be doing Great Inventors. I picked Great Inventors instead of Saints and Virtuous People, a more common Waldorf block, because I know the purpose behind doing a block on virtuous people. It's to provide children with a set of role models that will touch their hearts deeply.

In this case, I'm creating a block for three learners who do NOT like to take risks. I'm creating a block for three students who assume that learning means knowing it in a flash... getting it right off the bat... no mistakes in their rough drafts... not needing to ask any follow up questions to a lesson... never having to raise your hand during a discussion. This is NOT learning! Learning is trying, failing, trying, failing, trying, failing, trying again. Learning is pushing back, taking charge, monitoring what you know and what you don't, figuring out where to find the answers to your question, finding out that you have new questions, asking, arguing, collaborating. Learning is boundless curiosity and hard work and determination. Learning is perseverance and being OK with making mistakes. Learning is taking the time to think about what you're discovering. Learning is wanting more.

In order to have several good conversations about what learning looks like, a block on famous inventors is a great place to start! It takes the pressure off, preventing students from thinking our conversations are hidden lectures directed towards them. And so I am drafting a list of inventors, trials and errors, happy accidents, and profound discoveries to include in this block:

School Library Journal put together their own list of Inventors, Innovators, and Inspirers | Great Picture Book Biographies.

I also was, through a lucky coincidence, just today reading the September 2011 issue of National Geographic when I came across an article called "If We Only Had Wings: The Daring Dream of Personal Flight," detailing the timeline of inventions pursuing this oh-so-common dream. If you have any other suggestions, please share via a comment. I would love to hear them!!!

A wonderful read-aloud story during this block would be The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, the Newbery Honor book by Jacqueline Kelly which takes place in 1899.

Some other possibilities, if one wanted to expand the topic slightly:

My blog posts from teaching this topic as a main lesson block in 2016:

Our 2016 list of inventors was

Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Ada Lovelace, Elisha Otis, Elijah McCoy, Margaret Knight, Chester Greenwood, George Ferris, Tony Sarg, Bob & Joe Switzer, and Buckminster Fuller.

My notes from teaching this topic with a tutoring client during the coronavirus pandemic, July 2020:

My notes from teaching this topic as a main lesson block in 2022:

    Leonardo da Vinci (1452 - 1519)

    Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790)

    Carl Linnaeus (1707 - 1778)

    Samuel Morse (1791 - 1872)

    Louis Braille (1809 - 1952)

    Ada Lovelace (1815 - 1852)

    Margaret Knight (1838 - 1914)

    Tony Sarg (1880 - 1942)

    Walter Diemer (1904 - 1998)

    Bob Switzer (1914 - 1997) and Joe Switzer (1915 - 1973)

    Richard James (1918 - 1974)

    Erno Rubik (1944 - )

    We also always set aside lots of time for personal inventions! In fact, this month I actually invented two new Montessori math materials (the Binary Mat and the Octal Mat)!

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