Fourth graders pass through a very difficult and necessary change. Although they sometimes feel separated from their surroundings, their self-consciousness is naturally becoming stronger. They still wish to revere, but feel reverence must be justified. The curriculum meets these changes by bringing a more objective view of the world. Native American drawings, totems, weavings, tools and legends provide invaluable content for lessons on local geography and culture. Map making as well as study of orchards, farms, industries and land formation, helps to orient the young students in the local surroundings.
The child of nine or ten begins to feel himself or herself belonging to, and yet apart from nature. They still need pictorial or artistic imagery for real understanding. Therefore, we initiate the study of “Man and Animal” by describing single animals and comparing their organisms with that of man. Children perceive how the various forms of the animal world appear unified with an order and harmony in the human being.
The tales from Norse and Germanic mythology provide nourishment for the mind in accord with the children’s development. It is easy to see how the crashing of the rainbow bridge and the destruction of Valhalla seem so akin to the child’s experience now in coming to the real work of living on earth. Values emerge – especially the value of life itself.