Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Catching Up...Math Block - Math Factor Tree

Math Block: Math Factor Tree by Marsha Johnson

Math was so bland when I learned it in a traditional school, so I'm thrilled that waldorf focuses on not only multi-sensory learning, but also a true deep understanding of the concepts of math. One of the best recommendations I have for all you waldorf inspired homeschooling mamas out there is to join Marsha Johnson's waldorf group. Even if you never read an email posted to the group, you can access her free files, which are wonderful! She is so generous to share them with us for no charge. I found the pdf file for the Math Factor Tree by going into:

- Files
- Age Specific Curriculum
- Grade 2
- factortrees.pdf

Since I worked mainly with gnomes last year with the 4 processes, yet it was fall and we had plenty of acorns and nuts to count, I decided to combine the two to add to Marsha's skeleton. We were also reading the story of King Arthur, so I made up a story of Merlin (and baby Arthur) who traveled through the forest one day and came upon two little squirrels who had no home to call their own. They were also very hungry as all the acorns had disappeared from the forest. Merlin conjured up a magic acorn and placed it in the soil. The acorn grew right before their very eyes into a Magic Math Factor Tree...

The one trunk of the tree became a One Tree...

The girls copied it into their MLB's.

We have been practicing form drawing and have been using the forms to decorate the edges of their MLB's. This form was very hard, but they both wanted to attempt it, so they did!

As our week continued, we embellished the story and the girls retold and added to it. Soon, the deer and wolves came into the forest to share in the bounty.

The girls took this picture of their crayons after school - creativity abounds!

We also added a lot of baking to this block. This is our homemade zucchini bread using a gigantic organic zucchini from my sister's prolific garden in Colorado! Mmmmmm....

Soon the Magic Math Factor Tree split into two and became a Two Tree...

Then a Three Tree... (this tree is drawn in several ways - 3= 1+1+1 and 3=2+1...)

More baking...we actually baked 10-12 different types of holiday cookies for a dog rescue fundraiser. We doubled the recipe and then cut it in half so they could each measure out the same amount - lol!

Meanwhile...the Magic Math Factor Tree split into Four... (4=1+1+1+1, 4=2+2, 4=3+1 or 1+3, etc)

And five...

And six...all the way up to twelve!

We stopped there - lol! This particular block in our math block took about a week and we had a lot of fun with it.

We started to read the King Arthur book by Roger Lancelyn Green, but it just didn't work for us at this age. It is a version we will return to when the girls are a bit older. However, I returned to a wonderful version of the story which was a great buy by my mother-in-law and is hard to find (it is printed in England for our friends across the sea and seems to be more available there).

If you can find it, it's called, "Knights of the Grail" by Linda Proud. It's published by St. James Publishing. I first read it to the girls when they were 5 years old and they enjoyed it immensely. Their daddy had been telling them stories of King Arthur and Sir Gawain and Sir Lancelot since they were very small. It is broken up into very short chapters, so makes a good night time read aloud.


  1. Fatastic Jen. We too read King Arthur. Jut starting on some Maths now. We are using Anansi stories. Always so good to read about all your great learning. Happy rest of week!
    Best wishes

  2. This is great, Jen. Your pictures make the lessons come alive for me, where reading it just in print doesn't. I feel so fortunate to have you paving the way ahead of me (we are finishing up grade one).

    It looks like you kept the same blackboard drawing and then just adapted the tree growth each day, is that right? This is such a clear demonstration of whole to parts - I love it!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this. I am learning so much from you! I love that everything can be taught in a beautiful way.

  4. Thanks mamas! Homeschooling is REALLY fun! It's also frustrating, at times, as we all can attest to - lol! But I love that we can be flexible around our children. If they grasp a concept, we can move faster - if not, we can alter it, review it, slow it down, etc.

    Cathy, yes for this lesson, I left the tree "as is". I thought it was an important part of the lesson to reinforce the whole to parts and also, that it is all tied down to *oneness*. Another great way to show this is to take a long, thin stick and break it into two, then crack the two into four, into eight, etc...

    Leaving the drawing in place also made it easier to progress with the lesson - lol. We have to make sure the drawings don't bog the lesson or our children down, so keeping it simple is recommended here :)

    Blessings to you ladies!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing these posts on math and fables...the details are so very useful to me as someone looking ahead to this work. Such an inspiration!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your work here, Jen! It is so tremendously helpful for the visual that I am to see what you do! Thanks a lot!

  7. You take so much time to create such beautiful posts, I really appreciate it and do learn from it. Sasha is also in grade 2, we are a little behind because we had our extended vacation. I am ready the King of Ireland for his lang.arts some of it is a little confusing but he seems to enjoy the story. I will open amazon now to find the knights of grail. The girls are doing beautiful work.

    How nice of you to make all those cookies for the animal rescue. Jen, I now have 3 street dogs. This evening Sasha said to me,, Mom, why do people buy dogs, you can just get them from the street and it's free, can we keep them all! the last one now sleeps beside our bed.

  8. Most be a lot of work home school your kids. Respect for doing it.