The Curriculum of the Steiner School - Class 5

Notes and Lesson Plans

Ancient Mythology: India, Persia, Mesopotamia
updated November 21, 2020

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 fifth grade year. Enjoy!

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Ancient Mythology: India, Persia, Mesopotamia
for Class 5

Pinterest - Renee Schwartz
My curated collection of visuals! Browse sample main lesson book pages, watercolor paintings, chalkboard drawings, etc. for Ancient India, Ancient Persia, and Ancient Mesopotamia.

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

Other Helpful Links

Books to Buy

There are basically two collections of stories from which to choose, depending on whose style you prefer: Dorothy Harrer or Charles Kovacs.

I like Kovacs and used it my first time around. However, I then discovered that the Harrer book, Chapters from Ancient History is now available online for FREE at the Online Waldorf Library, so that makes it a budget-friendly option (and, happily, her volume includes Ancient Greece as well).

Notes from Teaching with Kovacs (2016)

I taught this block in September 2016. At first I thought we could do two chapters each day, but then I saw how much the children loved them and what great detail they were going into in their main lesson book summaries. Thus, I had to slow down a bit!

I suggest spending two weeks on Ancient India, one week on Ancient Persia, and one week on Ancient Babylonia. In my mind, Ancient Egypt should get its own block, and a great resource for that is Gods and Pharaohs from Egyptian Mythology by Geraldine Harris. There is also a brand-new book out called Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt: Egyptian Mythology for Kids by Morgan E. Moroney, and it is excellent. Here is the link to my Ancient Mythology: Egypt page.

Here was our pacing and our stories:

    Day One: Before beginning the first story, paint India (see my blog post for pictures), the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, the Himalayan Mountains, and the Ganges River, using pale blue for the shape of the entire peninsula and dark blue for the river, yellow for the surrounding water, and red for the mountains, and watercolor pencils to label each item on our map. Hear "Manu and Atlantis" from Kovacs.

    Day Two: Chalkboard drawing of Manu (hint: draw the fish first). Add story to MLB. (We didn't do this, but it would be nice to do a watercolor painting of a rainbow for this story.) Hear "King Sangara's Horse" from Kovacs.

    To knit a pure white horse, use the pattern in A First Book of Knitting for Children, page 64.

    Day Three: Add story to MLB. Hear "Baghiri and the River Ganges" from Kovacs.

    Day Four: Add story to MLB. Hear "Indra, the Warrior God" from Kovacs.

    Day Five: Add story to MLB. Hear "The Fisherman's Catch" from Kovacs.

    Day Six: Add story to MLB. Hear "Rama and Hanuman" from Kovacs.

    Day Seven: Add story to MLB. (For help with drawing monkeys, use Live Education's Drawing Simple Animal Forms. But an easier illustration for this story is the path of rocks being held up by the ocean.) Hear "Buddha, the Enlightened One" from Kovacs.

    (It is nice to do a MLB of Jataka tales in 2nd grade. If students are not familiar with these stories, take another day to read a Jataka tale such as The Golden Deer by Margaret Hodges, or set out I Once Was a Monkey: Stories Buddha Told by Jeanne M. Lee.)

    Day Eight: Modeling of Gautama Buddha from Elizabeth Auer's book. We used still-warm homemade cooked playdough instead of clay. I adapted the Spiced Citrus Playdough recipe from the Childhood 101 blog by allowing the children to experiment with the spice mixture, choosing from the large variety of options I set out. We ended up with this recipe:

      Combine in a large saucepan
        2 cups whole wheat flour
        1 cup salt
        2 T cream of tartar
        2 T vegetable oil
        1 3/4 cups water
        1/4 cup lemon juice
        a few drops of lemon extract
        zest of one lemon, finely grated
        1 1/2 tsp lemongrass powder
        1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
        1 tsp ground ginger
        1/2 tsp ground cardamom

      Stir constantly over medium heat until the mixture congeals and forms a ball, approximately 3-5 min. Continue to heat for another minute, constantly turning over the ball of dough. Remove from heat and knead until the dough is smooth. (I read The Hermit and the Well to my students while they were kneading the dough.)

    Add story to MLB. Hear "Ahura Mazda and Ahrimen" and "Hushang Discovers Fire" from Kovacs. Make Persian recipe: Faloodeh (Persian Rose Water Ice).

    Day Nine: Add story to MLB. (We did a very effective two-page spread emphasizing their polarity, with warm colors and flames as the border around the Ahura Mazda summary and cool colors and icicles around the Ahrimen summary.) Hear "Zarathustra and the Kingdom of Light" from Kovacs.

    Of course, this story also features a beautiful horse which you could knit. This time it is a pure black one. In sixth grade students will, finally, be old enough to do needle-felting!

    (Another story for Persia, which I ran out of time to do, is The Legend of the Persian Carpet by Tomie de Paola.)

    Day Ten: Add story to MLB. Hear "The Land of Two Rivers" and "Marduk, the God Who Knew No Fear" from Kovacs.

    Day Eleven: Add story to MLB. Hear "Gilgamesh and Eabani" from Kovacs. Clay modeling of Gilgamesh and Eabani wrestling from Elizabeth Auer's book (see my blog post for picture).

    Day Twelve: Add story to MLB. Clay modeling of Babylonian tablets and cuneiform writing from Arthur Auer's book.

    (Another story for Mesopotamia, which I ran out of time to do, is Ishtar and Tammuz: A Babylonian Myth of the Seasons by Christopher Moore.)

    (A wonderful way to end this main lesson is with the Brick Making Challenge -- and award -- from Early Humans by Michelle Breyer. Find the table of contents of this book here.)

My Blog Posts from Teaching This Topic as a Summer Camp (2019)

Notes from Teaching with Harrer (2020)

My most recent time teaching this Ancient Mythologies block was in November 2020 during the time of COVID. Our homeschool co-op was doing distance learning, so we used Dorothy Harrer's book since it is available to download as a free PDF. Here is the link to the Online Waldorf Library.

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