The Curriculum of the Steiner School - Class 7

Notes and Lesson Plans

Age of Exploration / Renaissance & Reformation
updated July 10, 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.

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Age of Exploration / Renaissance & Reformation
for Class 7

Main Text

There are two main choices of books for this block, depending on whose style you prefer. Charles Kovacs wrote an excellent book called The Age of Discovery; Polly Schoyer Brooks and Nancy Zinsser Walwroth wrote a follow-up volume to their highly-recommended The World of Walls: The Middle Ages in Western Europe, called The World Awakes: The Renaissance in Western Europe.

I now own both of these books and, when I go to teach this block again next year, I will be sure to explain which one I used and to share all of my lesson plans.

However, in the spirit of honesty, when I taught this block last year I simply used the history book I already had on the shelf -- and it was my absolute VERY FAVORITE book as a child -- which was A Child's History of the World by V.M. Hillyer (1951 edition).

The notes below, therefore, are for that book.

I have several blog posts to share which may be helpful. The first is for the chapters I used, one chapter per day, and what is covered in each. I've also taken photographs of the main lesson book pages which my daughter created. Being new to Waldorf, the artwork is not up to the "Waldorf standard," but she learned a lot nevertheless and I'm more than happy to share what we did.

August 7, 2015 - A Child's History of the World (this post is also shared below)

    My 8th grader has not yet done the 7th grade Age of Exploration/ Renaissance/Reformation block, so we are beginning the year with that. We will have 11 stories. I've chosen to use V.M. Hillyer's EXCELLENT book, A Child's History of the World, Revised, with New Material (1951)

    We have the 1951 edition, pictured. This is a controversial book, with many people objecting to some of the language which would now be considered not politically correct. It is also very Eurocentric, with lots of ancient civilizations from around the world ignored completely. However, I find it well written and engaging and I prefer to omit or supplement then try to replace it. As far as I am concerned, no other book (including newly revised versions of this one) is better.

    Even if you don't like Hillyer (that's Harvard graduate Virgil Hillyer, one of the earliest headmasters of the Calvert School, which also sells its own homeschool curriculum nowadays), you may like how he paces out these 11 chapters -- perfect fit with our time frame, Virgil, thank you -- and so I offer their contents to you. I am starting with the year 1300 and the chapter about Genghis Khan and Marco Polo because the invention of the compass, and Polo supposedly bringing it to Europe, was key to the Age of Exploration.

    Chapter 55 - A Great Story-Teller
    Cathay, Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan, 1300, Venice, Marco Polo

    a sample MLB page for Marco Polo
    the second page of the two page spread

    Chapter 56 - "Thing-a-ma-jigger" and "What-cher-may-call-it" or a Magic Needle and a Magic Powder
    compass, gunpowder, Roger Bacon, Schwarz

    sample MLB page for Ibn Battuta
    SHEG lesson plan for Ibn Battuta

    Chapter 57 - Thelon Gest Wart Hate Verwas
    1338, Edward III, Hundred Years' War between England and France, Crecy, longbow, cannons, the Black Death, Joan of Arc

    SHEG lesson plan for the Black Death

    Chapter 58 - Print and Powder or Off with the Old, On with the New
    1440, invention of the printing press, Gutenberg, first printed Bible, Caxton, 1453, fall of Constantinople, end of all that was left of the old Roman Empire, end of the Middle Ages, start of the New Ages

    Chapter 59 - A Sailor Who Found a New World
    Genoa, Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand and Isabella, discovery of South America

    sample MLB page for Christopher Columbus

    another fantastic resource for this part of the story is Ship by David Macaulay; highly recommended!

    Chapter 60 - Fortune-Hunters
    spice road, Vasco da Gama, Cape of Good Hope, 1497, Cabot, Balboa, Magellan, Pacific Ocean

    Chapter 61 - The Land of Enchantment or the Search for Gold and Adventure
    Ponce de Leon, de Soto, Aztecs, Montezuma, Cortes, Incas, Pizarro

    Chapter 62 - Born Again
    Renaissance, Michelangelo, David, Moses, Sistine Chapel, Raphael, Sistine Madonna, Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper, Mona Lisa

    Chapter 63 - Christians Quarrel
    sixteenth century, Church of St. Peter, Martin Luther, 95 theses, Worms, Bible translated into German, Protestants, Henry VIII, church of England, divorce of his first wife, marriage to Anne Boleyn, the rest of Henry's wives

    "Divorced. Beheaded. Died. Divorced. Beheaded. Survived."

    Secrets of the Six Wives (PBS Masterpiece, 3 episodes, rated PG)

    Tudor Monastery Farm (BBC, 6 episodes, rated 7+)

    Lucy Worsley's 12 Days of Tudor Christmas (PBS Masterpieces, 1 episode, rated NR)

    Chapter 64 - King Elizabeth
    Mary Tudor, Bloody Mary, Philip II, Inquisition, William the Silent, Elizabeth Tudor, Mary Stuart, Spanish Armada, 1588

    Chapter 65 - The Age of Elizabeth
    Sir Walter Raleigh, Roanoke, Virginia Dare, tobacco, William Shakespeare, Anne Hathaway, Stratford, London, famous plays

August 20, 2015 - Pictures from the First Week of School

August 26, 2015 - Scribes and Ships

August 31, 2015 - Supplemental Historical Fiction in Chronological Order (also shared below)

August 31, 2015 - Age of Exploration Wish List (also shared below)

January 24, 2022 - When Captain Cook Landed on Hawai'i

Main Lesson Book Pages / Chalkboard Drawings

Pinterest - Renee Schwartz
My curated collection of visuals! Browse sample main lesson book pages, watercolor paintings, chalkboard drawings, etc. for Renaissance & Reformation and Age of Exploration.

MLB Pages: Age of Exploration, Renaissance & Reformation - my blog post of Natalie's work

Supplemental Historical Fiction in Chronological Order

    In preparation for the Renaissance I had my daughter read The Smileby Donna Jo Napoli. She didn't care for it, as her book review attests. She says it was "too romancy" and she didn't learn anything about the Renaissance. Tomorrow we will try to get The Second Mrs. Giocondaby E.L. Konigsburg instead.

    Not every book can be a winner. We are heading into the Reformation and there are LOTS of young adult books featuring King Henry VIII and all of the drama surrounding the Tudors. ( So we will work our way through some options and then I'll decide my final recommendations for the website. Feel free to weigh in with suggestions! Here is my current chart:

    Historical Figures/Time Period

    A Golden Web
    Barbara Quick
    Alessandra Giliani, 14th century
    Bologna, Italy

    Morning Girl
    Michael Dorris
    Christopher Columbus (this is kept from the reader until the Epilogue), 1492
    the Bahamian Island of Guanahani (San Salvador)

    Falling for Henry
    Beverley Brenna
    Catherine of Aragon, the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, future first wife of Henry VIII (while still young; Henry is still a prince)

    Mary, Bloody Mary
    Carolyn Meyer
    Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII with Catherine of Aragon, age 11, 1527

    The Redheaded Princess
    Ann Rinaldi
    Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII with Anne Boleyn, age 9, 1542

    The Stolen One
    Suzanne Crowley
    Mary Seymour, the daughter of Katherine Parr (sixth wife of Henry VIII, later married to Thomas Seymour)

    The Red Queen's Daughter
    Jacqueline Kolosov
    also Mary Seymour

    Raven Queen
    Pauline Francis
    Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Days Queen, monarch of England at the age of 16, from July 10 - July 19, 1553 and then beheaded

    A Sweet Disorder
    Jacqueline Kolosov

    Daughter of Venice
    Donna Jo Napoli
    Venice, Italy

    Jepp, Who Defied the Stars

    Katherine Marsh
    Tycho Brahe (1546-1601)

    King of Shadows
    Susan Cooper
    William Shakespeare, 1599
    London, England

    The Queen's Soprano
    Carol Dines
    Angelica Voglia, Queen Christina, Pope Innocent XI, 1670
    Rome, Italy

Age of Exploration Wish List

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