Grade 5 Ancient India and Persia

We have begun our Ancient Mythologies block. It is a fascinating block which follows the history of human consciousness through ancient myths. The history and stories are so rich that it is easy to get bogged down in this block! Donna Simmons of Christopherus does an excellent job in her book, Ancient Mythology, in paring down the information to cover the important elements in a short amount of time. Her layout calls for a 6 week block covering Ancient India, Persia, Babylon, and Egypt. We’ll see if we can do it!

I am reading a lot from Charles Kovacs book, Ancient Mythologies.


Here are our lesson book pages so far. First, India:

Ancient India cover flower - 5th grader_small

aum1 5th graderaum2 5th grader

mahabarhata 5th gradermahabarhata arjuna 5th grader
The Mahabharata… Arjuna and the archery contest.

mahabarhata arjuna mom

dharma at the lake 5th graderdharma at the lake 5th grader writing
More from the Mahabharata… Lord Dharma at the Lake.

dharma at the lake mom
Mom’s Dharma and Pandava.

mahabarhata painting pandava 5th gradermahabarhata painting pandava mom
Dry paintings from the Mahabharata. These are Arjuna riding in luxury to the city of Benares, where the Kaurava planned to put and end to the Pandava.

And next is Persia:

ahura-mazda 5th graderpersian myths writing 5th grader
Ahura-Mazda by my 5th grader.

ahura-mazda mompersian myths writing mom
Mom’s Ahura-Mazda.

zarathustra 5th graderzarathutra writing 5th grader
Zarathustra by my 5th grader.

zarathustra mom
Mom’s drawing of Zarathustra. The ‘hashed’ pencil drawings can take a while to complete, so we generally do them a bit small. These pictures of Zarathustra are about 5” x 7”. I learned this technique from the wonderful Sigi De Francesca. Live Ed’s curriculum also discusses the technique and has many examples beginning in 3rd grade, I believe. This drawing was inspired by a drawing in Live Ed’s Grade 5 curriculum.


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7 Responses to Grade 5 Ancient India and Persia

  1. Cathy says:

    Wow. Your main lesson books are beautiful. Thank you for sharing them. I really enjoy your art work.

  2. Such beautiful work! We are starting this lesson block next week, thank you so much for sharing.

  3. Jennifer says:

    I’ve seen you mention Donna Simmons, Live Ed., etc. Do you have a recommendation for buying a curriculum for 5th grade? Thanks, Jennifer

    • Waldorf Mom says:


      I cannot offer a specific recommendation for a 5th grade curriculum. I do have Live Ed, and I used it extensively for Geometry and Botany. Other than that, I have only used bits of it. The artwork is great, which is very helpful. There are other things in Live Ed that have been helpful, but the problem is that their cost is so high. I used Donna Simmons First Grade curriculum, and LOVED it! Then I got her Second Grade, and I just did not use very much of it. However, the only piece of her 5th grade curriculum that I have is the Ancient Mythologies book. I loved this one too. She laid a plan that was so much more practical in the home environment. She details the important ideas that should be brought to the student with these mythologies, so it kept me from getting too bogged down in the stories. You could just tell these stories all year… they are that rich. Alas, there is more to cover!

      Another issue I have with Live Ed is that the books about the myths are mostly filled with the actual myths. These myths are readily available from other sources (Charles Kovacs, D’Aulaire’s, Padraic Colum and others), so I would rather have more ideas about how to work with these myths in artistic and academic ways, instead of having the myths summarized or re-written for me. I would love to see all of what Donna Simmons offers for fifth grade. Maybe next time…

  4. Jennifer says:

    How did you decide which parts of the Mahabharata you wanted to summarize and illustrate? Even Donna Simmon’s version is huge and she doesn’t seem to offer much about which parts to work into a MLB.

    • Waldorf Mom says:

      I don’t have the Donna Simmons Ancient Mythologies book anymore, as it was loaned to me by a friend. I do not remember the Mahabharata being very long, but since we did 2 pictures and a painting, I guess we spent a week or so on it. I simply chose a couple of scenes that I thought would be interesting to illustrate. The scenes we drew were pivotal moments of the story (in my opinion). The contest in which the jeweled bird is shot begins to show us the important role that Arjuna will play in the epic. We see here that he clearly has a special quality.

      The next scene that we drew was Lord Dharma at the lake. I loved this part of the story because now we had a sort of test for the Pandava princes. Lord Dharma asked many theological riddles, that my awakening 5th grader found fascinating, and she even quoted them from time to time.

      As I look at these drawings now, I wish that the characters played a larger role… the background seems too large. This can happen to us quite easily when drawing with pencils.

      We found inspiration for the elephant painting in a wonderful book called Ramayana: A Tale of Gods and Demons. I borrowed this book from a friend, but I have no idea how she got her hands on it! The full-color version is a rare find. The traditional Hindu artwork is rich and stunning. A book like this will provide much inspiration for artwork during the Ancient India block.

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