The Curriculum of the Steiner School - Class 8

Notes and Lesson Plans

World Religions
updated April 7, 2024

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

World Religions
for Class 8

Rationale & Resources

I will be using as my main resource a Montessori World Religions three-part card material made by PaperCuts (author Patricia D. Brown, published in 1995). It contains information on Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, Taoism, Islam, and Sikhism and includes

    R1 - terminology
    R2 - followers
    R3 - concepts
    R4 - founders or leaders
    R5 - sacred texts
    R6 - places of worship
    R7 - symbols

as well as teacher background information, timeline, maps, charts, calendars, readings, and glossary.

Please note that I didn't find any Waldorf reference to a World Religions block; however, 8th grade is a year for U.S. History as well as World Geography & Economics, and to have an understanding of how these parts and pieces fit together it is essential to know about the major world religions.

In addition, these students are old enough for Philosophy, including discussions about God. I have also found that age 13-14 is when students begin asking about other religions! And my eighth grader requested a particular emphasis on how each religion cares for the deceased (which ties in nicely with the 8th grade Human Anatomy & Physiology study), and so we are incorporating that interest as well.

Little Big Minds: Sharing Philosophy with Kids

by Marietta McCarty

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death

by Caitlin Doughty

I have chosen to teach this block in January 2023, when the second grade is studying Jataka Tales. Therefore, we will begin with Buddhism.

Since this block is new to me, I will be keeping notes as we go along.

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

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

Special Guests

    Halbert Katzen - to blow the shofar

    Rev. Sarah Richards - Unitarian Universalism

    mortician ?

Field Trips

    to the Hindu temple to celebrate Holi

9 Religions in Order by Age

    4000 years old - Hinduism
    Hinduism is the world's oldest religion, according to many scholars, with roots and customs dating back more than 4,000 years. Today, with about 900 million followers, Hinduism is the third-largest religion behind Christianity and Islam. Roughly 95 percent of the world's Hindus live in India.

    Yoga, which is mentioned in ancient, sacred scriptures of Hinduism, originated thousands of years ago in what is now India.

    3500 years old - Zoroastrianism
    Sometimes called the official religion of ancient Persia, Zoroastrianism is one of the world's oldest surviving religions, with teachings older than Buddhism, older than Judaism, and far older than Christianity or Islam. Zoroastrianism is thought to have arisen "in the late second millennium BCE."

    Zoroaster, also known as Zarathustra, is regarded as the spiritual founder of Zoroastrianism. He is said to have been an Iranian prophet who founded a religious movement that challenged the existing traditions of ancient Iranian religion, and inaugurated a movement that eventually became a staple religion in ancient Iran.

    In Search of One of the World's Oldest Religions

    3500 years old - Judaism
    The origins of Judaism date back more than 3500 years. This religion is rooted in the ancient near eastern region of Canaan (which today constitutes Israel and the Palestinian territories). Judaism emerged from the beliefs and practices of the people known as 'Israel'.

    2500 years old - Buddhism
    Buddhism is one of the world's largest religions and originated 2,500 years ago in India. Buddhists believe that the human life is one of suffering, and that meditation, spiritual and physical labor, and good behavior are the ways to achieve enlightenment, or nirvana.

    2000 years old - Christianity
    Christianity is a major religion stemming from the life, teachings, and death of Jesus of Nazareth (the Christ) in the 1st century CE.

    1881 years old - Taoism - 142 CE
    Taoism as a religion began in the year 142 CE with the revelation of the Tao to Zhang Daoling or Chang Tao-ling by the personified god of the Tao, Taishang laojun (Lao Tzu), the Highest Venerable Lord. Zhang Daoling became the first Celestial Master and founder of the first organized Taoist school of thought.

    Zen is a branch of Mahayana Buddhism that originated in China, when Buddhists were introduced to Taoists.

    1413 years old - Islam - 610 CE
    Although its roots go back further, scholars typically date the creation of Islam to the 7th century, making it the youngest of the major world religions. Islam started in Mecca, in modern-day Saudi Arabia, during the time of the prophet Muhammad's life. Today, the faith is spreading rapidly throughout the world.

    554 years old - Sikhism - 1469 CE
    The Sikh religion is one of the youngest world religions and was founded more than 500 years ago (1469) in Punjab, North India, by Guru Nanak Dev Ji, in response to a spiritual revelation. Nanak and his nine successors are known as 'gurus', which is a term for a spiritual guide or teacher.

    62 years old - Unitarian Universalism - May 1961 CE

    Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship

My Plan - List of Religions & Philosophy Connections


references and builds upon the Waldorf curriculum for grades 2 & 5
(Jataka Tales, Ancient India)

Ancient India & Ancient Persia

references and builds upon the Waldorf curriculum for grade 5
(Ancient India, Ancient Persia)


    Philosophy - Death - Little Big Minds by Marietta McCarty
    The Bhagavad-Gita


Abrahamic Religions

references and builds upon the Waldorf curriculum for grades 2, 3, 6 & 7
(Saints, Old Testament Stories, Middle Ages, Reformation)



    Philosophy - Love - Little Big Minds by Marietta McCarty
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Islam & Sufism

    Philosophy - God - Little Big Minds by Marietta McCarty


Young Religions

    Sikhism (Hinduism + Islam)

    Unitarian Universalism

Our Actual Pacing

Week One
begin Buddhism

    Jataka Tales
    This week the 8th graders overlapped with the introduction to the Jataka Tales block for the 2nd graders. The two stories I read them in the first week were The Monkey and the Crocodile retold by Paul Galdone and The Brave Little Parrot retold by Rafe Martin.

    everyone colored a mandala to add to the MLB

    breathing exercises, meditation

    read "Buddha, the Enlightened One" from Kovacs book, Ancient Mythologies (pp.75-87)
    - The Gentle Prince Sidhartha
    - Journeys Beyond the Palace Wall
    - A Meeting with Death
    - Sidhartha, the Homeless Beggar
    - Enlightenment Under the Fig Tree

Week Two
finish Buddhism, begin Hinduism


    read The Hermit and the Well by Thich Nhat Hanh

    watch documentary on life of Buddha (Genius of the Ancient World, season 1, ep.1), take notes, discuss key points, begin rough draft of Buddhism


    read Thukpa for All by Praba Ram & Sheela Preuitt and look for signs of Tibetan Buddhism

    finish rough draft of Buddhism, get an edit, add to MLB, review the Buddhism three part cards


    concepts nomenclature - monotheism, polytheism, atheism

    Hinduism can be seen as both a polytheistic and a monotheistic religion (even though the divinities appear in separate forms, they make up one all-powerful spirit, Brahman)

    take Hinduism pretest (page 1 of PDF), discuss answers

    read The Magic Cooking Pot by Faith Towle (the goddess Durga)


    read from Kovacs book, Ancient Mythologies (pp.7-12 and 17-27)
    - King Sangara's Horse
    - Indra, the Warrior God
    - The Fishermen's Catch

    make a list of deities on the chalkboard
    Brahma / wet season
    Vishnu / cool season
    Shiva / hot season
    Indra (son of Brahma)
    Durga (wife of Shiva)

    discuss key points, look at three part card for Om / Aum, begin rough draft of Hinduism


    look at three part cards for Epic Poems (Ramayana, Mahabharata) and Lord Rama (seventh incarnation of Vishnu)

    read Rama and the Demon King retold by Jessica Souhami (Ramayana)

    read Ganesha's Sweet Tooth by Sanjay Patel & Emily Haynes (Mahabharata)

    add Ganesha (son of Shiva and Durga) and Lakshmi (wife of Vishnu) to list on the board

    finish rough draft of Hinduism

    read Priya Dreams of Marigolds & Masala by Meenal Patel

    assign children individual picture books to read, have them each share a bit about their story -- and how they think it ties in with Hinduism -- at the end of the day

    read article about Holi: The Meaning Behind the Many Colors of India's Holi Festival

Week Three
finish Hinduism, cover Zoroastrianism, begin Judaism

Week Four
continue Abrahamic Religions



    snow day


Week Five
finish Abrahamic Religions, begin Taoism

    assign additional independent projects
    Islam booklist - AH
    Sufism booklist - KLL

    read A Sweet Meeting on Mimouna Night and Yitzi the Trusty Tractor for Judaism (discuss Shabbat)

    read Laila's Lunchbox for Islam (discuss Ramadan)

    snow day



Week Six
finish Taoism & Zen, cover Sikhism

NOTE: We dd not study Jainism but next time I teach this block I will.

Resources for Jainism (including Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Blog posts from teaching this block in Jan/Feb 2023:

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