The Curriculum of the Steiner School - Class 4

Notes and Lesson Plans

Local History and Geography
updated May 31, 2022

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.

This page has helpful links and LOADS of free resources to help you plan your fourth grade year. Enjoy!

Mission Statement - Consulting Services - Lending Library

Local History & Geography
for Class 4

Pinterest - Renee Schwartz
My curated collection of visuals! Browse sample main lesson book pages, watercolor paintings, chalkboard drawings, etc. for Local History & Geography.

This is a new block for me; here are my notes as I get organized and plan. We live in Southern Illinois, so all of my notes and lesson planning will be related to this part of the United States.

FREE eBooks at the Online Waldorf Library
Excellent resource! Published Waldorf curriculum books provided here in PDF format for you to download, keep, and read... for free!

Sample Lessons and Free Curriculum

    Live Education curriculum samples:

    Note: Live Education! is correct in interpreting this block as including Local Industry, and knowing the traditional professions of people who worked in your area is important. I know one Waldorf teacher who does two blocks: Local Geography (the land) and Local Industry (the people).

    For me, growing up in Southern Maryland along the Chesapeake Bay, the traditional professions were tobacco farmer and waterman. When my son is old enough for Fourth Grade, I think we will do Local Hist/Geo twice, once for Southern Illinois and again for Southern Maryland (where we go to visit his grandmother.)

    Every region will have its own unique professions. I immediately spotted the reference in Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile to the "Tar Heels mica mill" in North Carolina.

    Grade 4 Content from Waldorf Teacher Resources
    An unbelievable resource with FREE main lesson pages and lesson plans (called "gems")

Other Helpful Links

Books to Buy

Given the topic, I highly recommend using your local public library extensively for this block. However, if you're in Illinois, I can tell you the BEST book I found and it is called Illinois: A History in Pictures by Gerald A. Danzer.

Note: I did not grow up in Illinois -- I moved here in 2014 to buy my grandparents' house -- so it has been particularly interesting for me to research this block!

Outlook Maps makes wonderful topographic maps! Highly recommended!

Where to begin? Begin by taking lots and lots of notes.

Giant City State Park - Stone Fort trail - Native American history

French and Indian War

when did IL become a state?

Lewis and Clark

Underground Railroad - Civil War

local industry - coal - what else?

landforms and water features - map making - compass rose


Mississippi River - Minn - Ohio River

what to put in now, and what to save, given that Geology will come later plus U.S. Geography... and U.S. History takes years to cover

learn more about Lincoln, esp. Lincoln-Douglas debates
field trip?
Illinois State Historical Society - "find historical markers near me" feature

Illinois 200: North to freedom on Illinois' Underground Railroad
January 21, 2018

Illinois Resource Trunks (and my closest locations for borrowing)

Giant City State Park
Makanda, 618-457-4836, Jennifer.Randolph @

Sallie Logan Public Library
Murphysboro, 618-684-3271, sherry.sallielogan @

IDNR District Forester Office
Lake Murphysboro SP, Murphysboro, 618-565-2828, benjamin.snyder @

*NEW* free set of seven posters -- and many other resources about the Prairie -- are available at the Living Roadway Trust Fund

When I was looking up the Illinois Resource Trunks from IDNR I also found a history set called "Lincoln's Legacy," which have been put together by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. There are four Lincoln's Legacy Learning Kits:

    Abraham Lincoln Biography Kit
    Mary Lincoln Kit
    Civil War Soldier Kit
    Slavery in Illinois Kit

General John A Logan Museum - Murphysboro IL

Cahokia Mounds!

My idea is to begin with map skills and then travel backwards through the history of our region over time. Starting with now... and seeing what came before now. Ending with the formation of the state itself long ago, and tying in the landforms and water features with a little geology.

Day One - March 22, 2018 - compass rose

    review compass rose (Never Eat Soggy Waffles / Worms / Whatever)

    magnetize steel needle (dry felting needle) and do the floating compass activity (activity 9, page 98) from Physics is Fun!

    look at compass rose on Biomes of the World Mat

    set up orienteering course in the field and do the challenges

Day Two - March 29, 2018 - latitude and longitude

    review how ancient people knew the Earth was round (plate/ball, ships/staircase)

    latitude & longitude lesson -- look at globe, graph paper
    background teacher information chapter 21 and 22 of Kovacs

    Illinois is North of Equator, West of Prime Meridian

    have children guess lat/long of our current location (37 degrees N, 89 degrees W)
    use compass on my cell phone to get the exact answer

    challenge the children to draw the shape of Illinois freehand

    then show them the shape (I got a large Illinois wooden cutting board)

    ask them if they know any of the names of the rivers which are the boundaries of our state
    or the names of any of the states that border Illinois?

    do United States Location Color Set as a group
    with United States Control Map for assistance

Day Three - April 5, 2018 - scale

    look at U.S. map, review IL neighboring states
    review compass rose and latitude and longitude (worksheets)

    look at U.S. map again, explain that they are "not to scale" and show on a globe how big Alaska is and where it is and how small Hawaii is and where it is

    show this wordless picture book to help them understand scale better...

    explain how scale is how much you're zoomed in or zoomed out, and look at a map to see how it is drawn on a map as a line with a measurement next to it (one inch = 100 miles, for example)

    one of my favorite exercises as a child: imagine how big a paper map would need to be to show the continental U.S. plus Alaska and Hawaii to scale

      Note: another useful book for scale, after it's been introduced, is In the Tall, Tall Grass by Denise Fleming (caterpillar / ant illustration)

    let each child trace the shape of Illinois onto 11 x 14 inch white paper

    measure the distance across the greatest width of the cutting board, look up the distance across the state, calculate the scale of the cutting board (1 inch = 23 miles)

    now ask children to draw the locations of major historical events on their map of Illinois
    to which they stared at me blankly, and wildly guessed the names of several wars

    open and begin to look through the "Civil War Solider Kit" -- look at artifacts and guess the purpose for some of them, photographs of soldiers, read chapter 4 "Camp Life" from The Civil War for Kids: A History with 21 Activities, revisit some of the artifacts in the kit

Day Four - April 12, 2018 - lead up to the Civil War

    play Civil War Ear games (marbles, Goosie Goosie Gander, I Spy)

    Statehood Dates (PDF)
    with USA Location Map

    pages 29, 7, 35, 43, 47

    lead up to Abraham Lincoln

Day Five - April 19, 2018 - Abraham Lincoln biography

    brush your teeth with tooth powder! I got the original activated charcoal tooth powder from My Magic Mud, but they also have a new turmeric and cacao tooth powder.

    handwork time!

    explain three branches of government

    several newspaper articles, including that Illinois may lose a representative after the next Census

    pages 26, 51, 50, 66, 87

    read Abraham Lincoln, the 1940 Caldecott winning book by Ingri & Edgard Parin d'Aulaire

Day Six - April 22, 2018 - field trip #1

Day Seven - April 26, 2018 - Ice Age and Paleo-Indians

    review field trip, archaeological digs

    read The Wonderful Egg and "Bye-Bye Brontosaurus" from Bone Poems

    open and look at People and Animals of Illinois' Past bin from IDNR

Day Eight - May 3, 2018

Day Nine - May 10, 2018 - field trip #2

    field trip to hike Stone Fort trail at Giant City State Park

Day Ten - May 17, 2018

    Illinois Mammals bin from IDNR

Blog posts from when I was teaching this block (as an after school club):

Blog posts from when I was teaching this as a full main lesson block:

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