The Curriculum of the Steiner School - Class 8

Notes and Lesson Plans

Book Study: Westward Expansion
updated August 2, 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 eighth grade year. Enjoy!

Mission Statement - Consulting Services - Lending Library

Book Study: Westward Expansion
for Class 8


I did this book study with a tutoring client remotely, during the time of COVID-19, in the summer of 2020. This was to help her fill in the gap in time between the American Revolution and the Civil War before school started up next year. Caddie Woodlawn was born in 1853. The book begins in 1864 when she was eleven, and takes place in the pioneer days of Wisconsin. Here is what we did.

Having focused on Grammar in our last book study, and symbolizing sentences with the Montessori Grammar stencil and colored pencils to indicate parts of speech, we spent more time in this book on spelling, and using Structured Word Inquiry. For more on this see my SWI page.

Note: This book was written in 1935. It is very representative of the frontier time period. It all works out in the end and it is beautifully written (and won the Newbery medal) but for us the language can be jarring until we get into it. Like the word Indian. Or the talk about scalping. It needs to be read as written to be successful for a child to get a sense of the time period. I promise it's a respectful book.

Caddie Woodlawn

by Carol Ryrie Brink
Newbery winner 1936

Chapter 1: Three Adventurers
Wednesday, July 8

    Blank United States Maps - $1.25 on TpT
    she created the third one after I shared my teaching idea of coloring the states in order of statehood, as we read off the names one by one, to see Westward Expansion in action!

    stop at 13 and discuss (first 13 colonies), stop at 30 and discuss (WI), continue to 50

    use the AMAZING interactive map of Native American tribes ("whose land are you on?")
    at to look at who lived in Wisconsin

    draw family tree of the Woodlawn family: John, Harriet, Clara, Tom, Caddie, Warren, Hetty

Chapter 2: The Circuit Rider
Friday, July 10

    add additional children to the Woodlawn family tree: Mary (deceased), Minnie, Joe

    SWI exploration of < circuit >
    focus on step 4 -- LEX Grapheme Deck card < c > -- make grapheme/phoneme chart

    circuit, pencil, dance for / s /
    circuit, curtain, cat for / k /
    ocean for / sh /
    cello for / ch /
    muscle for no sound

Chapter 3: Pigeons in the Sky
Sunday, July 12

    SWI exploration of < passenger >, < carrier >, < extinction >
    focus on steps 1, 2, 3 -- meaning, word sums, etymology and word relatives

    meaning of passenger pigeon -- base of < pass >
    meaning of carrier pigeon -- base of < carry >
    meaning of extinction -- base of < extinct >

    word sum for extinction < extinct + ion >
    find evidence for -ion suffix (action, equation)

    relationship of Latin verb extinctus with extinguere
    what is the meaning connection between extinct and a fire extinguisher?

    the spelling carries the meaning; words are logical and they make sense!

    there is a lovely poem for two voices by Paul Fleishman called "The Passenger Pigeon," on page 17 of I Am Phoenix: Poems for Two Voices

Chapter 4: A Silver Dollar
Wednesday, July 15

    what word do you think best summarizes this chapter?
    she chose < race >

    < race > is a base, so it has no word sum
    look up origins of < race > (noun #1 and noun #2)
    create word sums for other words in the < race > family (noun #1)
    make a matrix
    discuss replaceable e when adding a vowel suffix

Chapter 5: Nero, Farewell!
Friday, July 17

    analyze < quicksand >

    read The Quicksand Book by Tomie dePaola

    practice feeling sounds in the mouth, counting them, and tapping out words

Chapter 6: A Schoolroom Battle
Sunday, July 19

Chapter 7: Attic Magic
Wednesday, July 22

    what word do you think best summarizes this chapter?
    she chose < clock >
    look up origins of < clock >
    L clocca "bell" (replaced OE dægmæl, from dæg "day" + mæl "measure, mark")

    discuss the history of ways to tell time (sundial, water clock, pendulum clock)

    create word sums for other words in the < clock > family
    (clock, clockwork, clocks, clocking, clocked)

    make phoneme/grapheme chart for / k /
    cat, car for < c >
    duck, quick for < ck >
    kite, okay for < k >
    croquet for < qu >

Chapter 8: Breeches and Clogs
Friday, July 24

    add additional adults to the Woodlawn family tree:
    mother's brother (Uncle Edmund)
    father's mother, father (Thomas Woodlawn), uncle, grandfather (Lord Woodlawn)

Chapter 9: "The Rose is Red"
Sunday, July 26

    what word do you think best summarizes this chapter?
    she chose Valentine's Day
    discuss apostrophe for possession, Saint Valentine was a person
    you can't do SWI on a name and we already looked at dæg "day"
    so we decided to analyze < saint >

    look up today's saint in A Calendar of Saints: The Lives of the Principal Saints of the Christian Year by James Bentley

    read This Day in History - February 14: St. Valentine Beheaded

    step 1: what does saint mean?
    step 2: how is it constructed? is a base or does it have prefixes or suffixes?
    step 3: look up origins of < saint >
    from Old French saint "saint" displacing or altering OE sanct, both from Latin sanctus "holy, consecrated"

    create word sums for other words in the < saint > family
    (sainthood, sainted, saintly)

    look at sanct as base of < sanctuary >
    discuss sanctuary as a room or a building set aside for worship
    discuss sanctuary as offering shelter from a storm
    how do these words continue to have a sense of "holy, consecrated"

Chapter 10: Hoofs in the Dark
Wednesday, July 29

    what word do you think best summarizes this chapter?
    she chose < massacre >

    notice that the Woodlawns are offering < sanctuary > to all of their neighbors !

    step 1: what does it mean?
    step 2: draft word sums
    is this a compound word of mass + acre? does < massacre > share a meaning relationship with < mass >?

    step 3: look up origins of < massacre >
    which comes straight to us from Middle French

    step 4: what do you notice about the pronunciation?
    make phoneme/grapheme chart for / s /
    kiss, mass, massacre for < ss >
    horse, cast, case, chase for < s >
    face, place for < c >

Chapter 11: Massacree!
Sunday, August 2

    what word do you think best summarizes this chapter?
    she chose < Indian >

    step 1: what does it mean?
    step 2: draft word sums
    India + n + s ?
    is there a meaning relationship between a country on the yellow continent and the native people of the orange continent? review Columbus; look up Indian and India in etymonline

    investigate draft word sum further; do we have evidence for an < -n > suffix?
    is there a pattern in the name of a country and the name of its inhabitants?

    India = Indian
    Brazil = Brazilian
    Australia = Australian
    China = Chinese
    Japan = Japanese
    Egypt = Egyptian
    Paris = Parisian
    America = American
    Scotland = Scottish / Scot
    Switzerland = Swiss
    Ireland = Irish
    Germany = German
    Morocco = Moroccan
    France = French
    England = English
    Russia = Russian
    Thailand = Thai
    New Zealand = Kiwi
    Antarctica = N/A (no permanent residents)

    we are left with no clear pattern; some words seem to have an -an suffix and some an -ian suffix

    without current evidence of an -n suffix, we are leaving Indian as the base for now

    don't go deeper than you have evidence for!

Chapter 12: Ambassador to the Enemy
Wednesday, August 5

Chapter 13: Scalp Belt
Friday, August 7

Chapter 14: A Dollar's Worth
Sunday, August 9

Chapter 15: "Fol de Rol-lol"
Wednesday, August 12

Chapter 16: Warren Performs
Friday, August 14

Chapter 17: Pee-Wee
Sunday, August 16

Chapter 18: News from the Outside
Wednesday, August 19

Chapter 19: Two Unexpected Heroes
Friday, August 21

Chapter 20: Alas! Poor Annabelle!
Sunday, August 23

Chapter 21: Father Speaks
Wednesday, August 26

Chapter 22: A Letter with a Foreign Stamp
Friday, August 28

Chapter 23: Pigeons or Peacocks?
Sunday, August 30

Chapter 24: Travelers Return
Wednesday, September 2

Affiliate links through Amazon cover domain registration, web hosting, and website backup fees. This allows me to offer
my materials for free. Any extra revenue is used as our homeschool budget for the month. Thank you for your support!

Waldorf Curriculum Copyright ©2006-2020