Monday, 2 May 2016

Have you heard of Math Gnomes?

Think back to when you were younger.  It's okay I'll wait (lol). How did you learn math? Was it boring, abstract, engaging, fun? Do you even remember??

My boys love numbers.  They just picked it up easily on their own.  I can't tell you how or why except that they are naturally curious and for our family math isn't a separate subject in school.  Numbers are just part of our life like letters and reading.  I am very blessed and happy about that!

So the gnomes... I'm getting to that.

A while back TJ mentioned that he missed the stories we used to read (ones from the Waldorf curriculum we have).  We talked about a few other things he'd like to bring back into our rhythm and I asked if I could add in a few things too.  I did ask if he'd be willing to try a bit of structure and school type stuff for a few weeks and then we'd discuss how it's going. He agreed so we did a block of fairy tales.  Basically one day I'd read a story and we'd draw a picture.  The next day he would retell and write a very short summary.  He is very proud of his notebook!

After the fairy tales I planed a math block.  The plan was to review numbers 1-10 and discuss them more, then spend a bit of time on each of the four math processes (plus, minus, multiply and divide).  I also have a workbook that we could use for extra practice.

Mommy's Picture and poem for Plus

So here are where these fun little math gnomes come in.  When you introduce the math processes to children with stories and give them each a personality, the kids can make a special connection and really get engaged.  So basically they are a sweet way to introduce the math processes. Now you could use anything like squirrels or bears too.  I like the little gnomes.

First we used a math number story called The Gnome's Gemstones.  We had read this story about a year before so this time we did two numbers a day.  With each number we discusses different ways to say the number (for example two is double, twice, twins, pair, bi...).  We learned the roman numerals and french too.

Next I had to finally pick a math gnome story to go with. I honestly didn't realize how many versions are out there and all of the stories are great!  I have life time memberships to Waldorf Essentials and Earth Schooling.  But these stories also look good too. I picked the Earth schooling ones now and will get to the Waldorf Essential ones when we get to that point as we are reading through the stories from there in order.
TJ's Picture for plus

I looked on Pintrest to find some poems to go with each gnome and made some changes to them myself.  One day I would tell the story of a math gnome, show my drawing and poem, then the boys drew a picture. The next day we practiced that math process with manipulatives and in a work book.

Back when I used to sell items online I had made a sweet little set of math gnomes, but eventually sold them.  So this time I used game pieces from the game Sorry.  You may be wondering what to do with a math gnome?  Well they are basically just figures in a story if you use toys to act it out.  If you are using counters like gems or stones to help with math problems you can put the math gnome figure out to help remind you.

MJ's picture for Plus
Looking back I'd say the fairy tales were a big hit.  The math started off well and TJ enjoyed the pictures.  He didn't so much enjoy doing math problems in the workbook, so I backed off and didn't push too hard. Both boys prefer doing math in their heads or with counters to help.  Both boys wanted jump in to answer questions.

I wonder what the boys will want to learn about next??