Thursday, May 13, 2010

Math Block II Summary: Quantity of Numbers and the Four Processes

Here is the summary for our 2nd Maths Block, which was a combination of the Quantity of Numbers and the Four Processes.

~ Week One: Gnome Share
~ Week Two: Gnome Plus
~ Week Three: Gnome Minus Takeaway
~ Week Four: Gnome Times

Some supplies we used were math gnomes, dragon's tears (glass gems found at crafting stores), a jump rope, counting items (sticks, nuts, shells, pebbles, etc), bean bags, sidewalk chalk, silks, sandscapes, Arabic & Roman Numeral math pebbles, dice, characters and props for your math story, baskets for sorting, MLBs and crayons, chalkboard and chalks.

A tutorial for making Math Gnomes can be found here.
A tutorial for making Math Bean Bags can be found here.

The math pebbles was an idea from Our Little Nature Nest, who got black stones from a craft store and a paint pen and wrote the numbers on the stones.

The main books and resources I used for this block were:
~ Brother's Grimm stories
~ Ron Jarman's "Teaching Mathematics in Rudolf Steiner Schools"
~ Eric Fairman's "Path of Discovery: Volume I: Grade One"
~ Marsha Johnson's Files section of Grade 1


  1. another huge thank you for this, always so inspiring, your sharing is much appreciated.
    Wonderful Mother, amazing Teacher, thank you x

  2. What a great idea...thank you for the inspiration!!! I'm doing this for my daughter!
    with loving gratitude

  3. i came to you today via nocton, and i am so glad ive found your site. ive wanted to learn more about the gnomes for math and how to make them, and how to use them!! thank you! xx

  4. I am so so inspired as I am now making the math block for my child. We will begin later in the year. My question is why do you begin with Share Gnome first in your teachings. I am learning about Waldorf and understand everything has intention. I plan to look in Marsha Johnson's files today, and continue to pour over your site. Please help me understand going with Share Gnome first, before plus. Thanks! Nichole in KY.

  5. Thank you mamas for the wonderful comments!

    Nichole, I am so excited for you - I dare say that math was my favorite subject to teach in first grade. To answer your question, the order of the gnomes actually varies between teachers. I believe that many of them choose to do them the way I did to coincide with Dorothy Harrer's poem about the math gnomes (found in her "Math Lessons for Elementary Grades" and found in sections in each of my posts on each gnome). Eric Fairman and Marsha Johnson use this order, though Marsha Johnson uses different colors for her gnomes, for some reason. Fairman, Melisa Nielsen (of A Little Garden Flower) and Barbara Dewey all use the same colors that I did, though Melisa uses a female gnome for two of them.

    In actuality, math gnomes were not originally part of the waldorf curriculum! They were added later, thanks to Dorothy Harrer (I believe). Because they are easy to draw and tap into the grade 1 child's development, her poem was quickly assimilated into the waldorf math curriculum - lol! But as you see, Donna Simmons uses squirrels for her math stories. Steiner did not introduce math gnomes.

    I personally like the order of the Harrer gnomes because gnome share is such a great seed to plant into those little noggins :) For me, having to do with the will of the child, it felt like the best place to start. Gnome Share is the *nicest* and most generous gnome and it's fun to encourage that throughout to reinforce sharing and kindness. He is the first gnome introduced by Eric Fairman and by Marsha Johnson and I am a huge fan of both for teaching.

    As far as colors - these made sense to me because those colors stimilate the personalities of the gnomes. Of course, blue is associated with sorrow so Gnome Minus would be sad that he loses everything. Plus Gnome has to be greedy as he wants everything for himself and green is the color associated with greed. Gnome Share is red because he is so warm hearted that he has to share what he has with others, especially the sad Gnome Minus. And Gnome Times is bright like the sun as he tries to help like a burst of light/sunshine and make his pile grow rapidly!

    I hope this helps a bit. If I find anything else to support the order, I will LYK. But as you can see, not every teacher chooses to follow this order. I am assuming most do, though, as Dorothy Harrer had such a big influence on waldorf education. LMK if you have further questions and have fun with this block! We had so much fun with math!


  6. Hi Jen!

    I'm a homeschooler and I'm not sure how I stumbled upon Waldorf, but I found it on the internet and have read enough about it to realize it is way of thinking and living I want to incorporate in my home. However, I have no idea where to start. I have seen no examples of how to schedule a day/week, and I'm hearing all these ideas about "blocks" of time and main lesson books. I need an example of a schedule to give me an idea of what I do and for how long. And where do I get my ideas? I see all these lovely ideas, but do I need to come up with them all by myself (yikes!). I guess what I'm finding is all about the philosophy and I'm finding little about how to actually carry it out. Any guidance you could give me would be greatly appreciated, because I don't even know what to buy or how to begin. Thank you if you are able to reply, as I know your little ones are a few years older now. If you are not able, thank you for keeping your blog open. Blessings! Take Care, Jen (my name is also Jen :)

  7. Hi Jen - what ages are your children? I will pull together some things for you :)

  8. Hello again,

    Thank you so much! I have a little one who just turned 4 this month, I babysit a 3 year old and another "just turned" 3 year old (I think I could lump activities for them all together?), and then my oldest son is 6 and reading at a 3rd grade level (and I want to slow him down academically). He is one of those kids that likes "school" time. It's a special time with Mommy and he loves nearly everything I teach him, so I want to keep the traditional title of "school" but slow it down and add in any 1st grade handiwork I can. Many thanks to you Jen!