Recently, we finished our block of work on the Four Maths Processes ( + – x ÷). I really loved creating this block and finally feel like I’ve found a bit of a flow and my own style with how I want to create and teach them. I made gnomes to bring the stories and equations to life, (we used their crystals as our manipulatives to solve equations) and I loved seeing Louie enjoy maths so much!

We follow a Steiner approach to homeschooling where stories are used, especially in younger years to bring topics to life, create a connection with the child and introduce them with joy.

Another aspect of Steiner education is that we begin with the whole and then break it down into parts. So in the case of this topic, we introduced all four processes in the same story so Louie could understand how they relate and work together. In future blocks we’ll go deeper into each individual process.

Main Lesson Blocks are another distinguishing feature of Steiner education where this children have a ‘focus topic’ for around 4 weeks which encompasses all subject areas.

Some of Louie’s Main Lesson Book:

And here is my Main Lesson Book:

I adapted the story from this one.

Here are my story/ lesson plan notes:

WEEK 1

DAY 1

Once upon a time there was a little boy named Melo who very much wanted to visit the land of Numeria so that he could understand the magical world of numbers like his big brother and his mother and his father, his aunts, uncles and grandparents.

His mother said when he was 7 years old he would be old enough to make the journey.

Melo waited and waited to be old enough. At last his seventh birthday had arrived and he was allowed to go. 

Melo journeyed from sunrise in the morning until late in the afternoon until at last he came to a mysterious portal and he knew that this was the gateway to the land of Numeria. But the little boy could not get through, no matter what he tried. The portal was closed.

He paused.  Now what could he do?

Just then, as if out of the mist, a woman appeared before him. She was dressed in long billowing robes, that sparkled in the light but had no colour, just like the portal.

“Welcome” the mysterious woman said. “My name is Cipher and I am the Guardian of the Land of Numeria that lies beyond this portal.”

“Hello” said Melo. “I have been waiting for such a long time to visit the land of Numeria. Could you tell me please how I can go through the portal?”

“Ah. The only way through this portal is to engrave the 12 ancient symbols on the keystones around the gateway.” said Cipher, 

Melo had studied the twelve ancient symbols and he knew them well, he began to engrave them on the keystones.

(NOTE prior to this block we studied the quality of the numbers 1-12, including the roman numerals for each and those were the ‘ancient symbols’ referred to here)

As he finished the last symbol, the portal began to to whirl and change colour.  Cipher smiled and gestured him towards it. 

Stepping into the portal in amazement, Melo’s eyes were as big as saucers, his heart full of anticipation and joy. What would the Land of Numeria be like? He knew it was the key to all understanding about the magical world of numbers. But what did it all mean?

Activity

Draw MLB picture

DAY 2 : Meet Gnome Divide

As Melo stepped forward through the threshold of the portal he found himself standing on a beautiful rainbow path that sparkled in the sunlight. Just near to the path, Melo saw a large hill, rising up with many rocks and gravel slides, and little narrow paths leading in and out of big stones, places only goats or dwarves could tread, perhaps little gnomes could squeeze by those big rocks and narrow passageways . . . and indeed do you know, there in the damp dirt of one of the paths, the little boy could see what certainly looked like small footprints!

Though Melo did not know it, the hill was filled with little caves and big caves, and inside those caves were tunnels leading to and fro, and open ones that led in and out of rocky hills, some way up high, overlooking the land, and others down below, just near the bubbling streams that flowed downwards into the green valleys. Built into one of the rocky outcroppings was a small wooden door. The little boy immediately walked up to it and listened. Standing before it he heard a tap, tap, tapping going on deep inside the hill. They couldn’t have yet known, but indeed inside the hill, the gnomes were very busy, as always, working day and night to dig beautiful colorful jewels and precious metals out of their rocky beds. Tap, tap, tap, crack, crack, crack, went the small hammers of the busy gnomes.

As the little boy was standing, listening, the doors suddenly opened and there before them stood a gnome dressed all in . He was a stout and plump fellow with a white beard, kindly face and sparkling blue eyes. He wore a dusky pink outfit with a curious symbol embroidered on the front in beautiful gold. “Hello” he said, as he made a low bow to the little boy. “Welcome to the Land of Numeria. My name is Gnome Divide and I am happy to make your acquaintance! Do come in and I’ll show you around.” The little boy bent down and entered through the small door. Inside, lanterns glowed and lit the way as Gnome Divide led Melo down a winding path. The little boy  looked all around as they walked. Piles of coloured gems lay in large heaps on the rocky ground. Ponies with sacks tied over their backs trotted merrily up the path toward the Milo and gnomes everywhere were busy at work. “I’m one of the Gnomes in charge here” said Gnome Divide “There are four of us. I’m sure you’ll meet the other three during your stay.”

After a short distance the Melo came to a large room, lit by lanterns and candles. It was all aglow in sparkling coloured light. The little boy had never seen so many precious jewels–rubies, sapphires, diamonds and millions of coloured gems that reflected the lamp light. “It is my job,” Gnome Divide said “to divide the gems, jewels and precious metals so that they are equally shared among the people of Numeria. I make sure that everything that is found is shared. There are so many gemstones to go around. Here have some yourselves!” and Gnome Share picked up a sackful of coloured stones. “These are for you and you can share them with your brother.”

“Share them… yes of course,” said Melo. “But how can I be sure to share them equally between us?” 

“Oh,” the kindly Gnome said “That is easily accomplished. Watch. . . . There are six gems in the sack . . . .here is one for you, Melo, and one for your bryother. Another one for Milo and one for your brother. Another one for you Melo and one for your brother. . . . as you see we now have two piles of gemstones with 3 in each. It’s as simple as that!” 

Melo smiled at Gnome Divide. What a wonderful little man! But how busy he was! “Could I help you in your work?” Milo asked enthusiastically. “Of course!” came the reply. For the rest of the day, Melo busily counted and divided the gems. What a lovely man he was and how happy Milo was to be in his presence.

VERSE: Gnome Divide.

“Divide is a kind old gnome.

With each one he will share.

The jewels which he gathers

He divides with greatest care.”

Activity:

Draw Gnome Divide, recite verse and write his name

DAY 3: Practise

Recount story

Practise.

Draw division symbol into book (you could also model it with beeswax) and present some division word problems which can be answered using manipulatives (24 gems) 

Then draw the gems into book

And then write symbols into book. 

Eg. 

Gnome Divide wanted to share the gemstones between himself, Louie, Archie and me. Have Louie divide the twenty-four gems between the four of us and determine the number of stones in each pile. Then illustrate what we did by drawing four piles of six gemstones in his main lesson book. Under the illustration write the “number sentence”: 24÷4=6

DAY 4: Meet Gnome Minus

One day as Melo was counting and separating the jewels with Gnome Divide a funny little gnome dressed all in blue entered the Treasure Room. He was more slender than Gnome Divide, with a tall blue cap and the same merry blue eyes. Instead of a white beard, his was the colour of coal. He too had a curious symbol embroidered on the front in beautiful gold

“Minus!” said Gnome Divide “How very good to see you! Come and meet my new friend Milo. He has been helping me to divide the jewels.” Melo moved closer to the slight little man and shook his hand. “Oh,” he said “How delightful! What a joy! My name is Gnome Minus. How wonderful to make your acquaintance! I was just thinking the other day how much Gnome Divide needs some helpers. He has so very much to do.” And pausing for a moment, Gnome Minus turned to Gnome Divide and said, “Gnome Divide I have collected some jewels for the Treasure Room. Twelve jewels to be exact. Now, where are they?” he said, and the small gnome began to search his pockets. “Now, I know they are in here somewhere. Yes, here are a few. One, two, three, four, five . . . . five? Well, for heaven’s sake where are the others?” Melo looked at Gnome Minus and then at Gnome Divide. “Oh dear, it’s my awful pockets again! The gems have fallen out of my pockets, so that I only have five left!” And at that Gnome Minus pulled his pockets out of his pants to reveal several large holes. “I know that I should mend my pants, but I am so very busy and I never seem to find the time.” “Milo would you be so kind to help me find the other gemstones?”

“Now, if I started with twelve stones and I only have five remaining. How many did I lose?” Melo looked at the little gnome. “Let’s use some of the jewels here to figure it out. I know that I started with twelve gems and now I have five. Let’s take five jewels and move them over here.” And the little gnome moved five gems into a small pile. “Now how many remain?” he said. Melo counted the remaining gemstones. “Seven!” He said. “That’s right- seven. Can you help me to find the seven gems that I lost?” the funny man said with an imploring look on his face. “I feel awfully foolish for losing them and I know that Gnome Divide would like to have them. “Of course I can.” Milo said and he began to search for the gems.

Gnome Minus

“Minus is a such a silly gnome,

He loses everything.

His ragged pockets are empty

For he subtracts everything.”

Activity

Draw Gnome Minus, recite verse, write his name

DAY 5: Practise 

Draw minus symbol into book (you could also make with beeswax) and present some minus word problems which can be answered using manipulatives (24 gems) 

And then write into main lesson book. 

Eg. 

Gnome Minus had 12 gemstones. He lost 5. How many were left? Have Louie use manipulatives to determine the number of stones left. Then illustrate by drawing 12 gemstones into his ML book, colour in 5… how many are left.

Write the number sentence below . 12 – 5 = 7

WEEK 2

Day 6: Meet Gnome Plus

Just as Melo was getting ready to set off with Gnome Minus to look for the gemstones, a plump gnome dressed all in green came bounding into the room. He had a reddish brown beard and brown sparkling eyes. Like Gnome Divide and Gnome Minus, this gnome too had a curious symbol embroidered on this clothes in beautiful gold, one that was different than the symbols worn by Gnome Divide and Gnome Minus.

“Oh, hello Gnome Plus!” said Gnome Minus “This is Melo. We were just about to go off hunting for seven stones that I lost on my way to the Treasure Room. They fell through the holes in my pockets.”

“No need, no need . . . “ said the gnome “I’ve got them right here! “ and he showed Melo the seven gems in his  hand. “Good to meet you. So very good to meet you!”

“I’m Gnome Plus.When jewels arrive from the mines, I count them up. Today, as I was coming from the mines I noticed an emerald stone lying on the path. I bent to pick it up and discovered another that had fallen a short distance beyond it, a blue sapphire. As I gathered the stones I began to count. A green emerald . . . one, a blue sapphire, two. I continued walking along the path and collecting fallen gems as I walked. A lemon quartz . . . three, a peridot. . . four, an aquamarine . . . . five, a ruby . . . six and a citrine . . . seven. Seven in all. These surely must be the gemstones that you lost Minus.”

“Yes, yes, they surely must be!” said Minus blushing as he took the jewels from his friend.

“Gnome Plus sir, you mentioned that you count the gemstones that arrive from the mines. Would you tell me more about your work please.” Milo asked

“Gladly, I will” said Gnome Plus “As you have probably already noticed, the mine ponies bring the jewel stones up from the mines in large sacks that they carry on their backs. They love to walk the wide breezy tunnels, rustling their long pretty tails and shaking their thick long manes. I know the ponies have arrived when I hear them laugh and whinny, and then I bring out shiny red apples for the ponies to eat. They crunch happily while I carry the jewel sacks into the Treasure Room to count up the gems. Then the ponies have a nice long drink of fresh water from the spring that bubbles at the open cave doorway and trot willingly back down the tunnel paths to fetch more jewels. Meanwhile, I take the jewel sacks to the table and open them carefully. Each sack contains a certain number of gems. It’s up to me to count the gemstones. I do this by first counting the number of gems in each sack and then adding the numbers together. Here, I’ll show you.”

Gnome Add bent down and picked up three sacks of jewels. The first sack he counted with the Melo. It contained three gemstones. Then they counted the jewels in the second sack. It contained five jewels. The last sack was then counted. It had four jewels in it. Gnome Plus then showed the Melo how to add up the numbers. “Three added to five gives us eight jewels. Four added to eight gives us twelve. Let’s count them all up to see if we are correct. Gnome Plus let Milo count the entire pile of jewels. “Yes, there are twelve all together! But Gnome Plus, what do you do with all of these jewels once you have counted them?”

“That my dear is up to the others. It is my job to gather the gemstones, to count them. I let Gnome Divide distribute them among the people of Numeria. I just love collecting them!”

VERSE FOR GNOME PLUS

Gnome Plus saves all that he can find

And gathers the gem sacks too.

He adds the jewels together

And says “Collecting is what I do!”

Activity

Draw Gnome Plus, recite verse and write his name

DAY 7: Practise

Draw plus symbol into book (you could also make with beeswax) and present some addition word problems which can be answered using manipulatives (24 gems) 

And then write into main lesson book. 

Eg. 

Gnome Plus is counting gemstones, in one bag is 5 gems, in the other is 4. How many altogether? Have Louie use the twenty-four gems to determine the answer. Then illustrate what we did by drawing 2 gem sacks with gems inside in his main lesson book. Under the illustration write the “number sentence”: 9 + 5 = 14

DAY 8: Meet Gnome Multiply

Melo passed several days in the company of Gnome Plus. He enjoyed counting gemstones with the jolly gnome and adding them up. One day late in the afternoon, Gnome Plus and Melo had just finished counting a large pile containing thirty jewels. Gnome Divide then shared the thirty jewels into piles of five. There were six piles in all. Everyone felt satisfied to see the gems lying on the ground in neat piles.

“Let us record this last delivery of gems and then go to the banquet hall for dinner.” Gnome Plus said as he opened a large golden record book. But the round gnome dressed all in green stood in front of the record book, his pen raised above its pages, with a blank expression on his face. “I can’t remember how many there are!” he said. “How in heaven’s name can I forget a thing like that! Do you remember?” he said turning to his companions. But Melo and Gnome Divide all looked at each other in disbelief. They too had forgotten how many jewels there were.

“Now we shall have to start all over again counting and adding until we have the number.” said Gnome Plus. Melo looked at him disappointedly. He was hungry and needed to have a rest. “I simply do not know what else to do! We cannot leave these jewels unaccounted for. We must finish our work before we eat.” Gnome Divide saw the expression on the Melo’s face. He knew the last thing everyone wanted to do was to recount all the stones. “I have an idea!” Gnome Divide said “Let us call Gnome Multiply! He will help us to re-count the gemstones quickly.”

So Gnome Multiply was summoned and before the girls could even sit down to wait, the speedy gnome entered the room. He was a large gnome with a round belly like Gnome Plus, but  he was dressed all in orange. He too had a curious symbol embroidered on his clothing with beautiful gold. 

“You called for me?” Gnome Multiply said as he made his way toward his friends. “Oh, Gnome Multiply, how good of you to come. This is our friend Melo,  he has been helping us to add and divide the jewels in the Treasure Room. A very unlikely thing has occurred. We just spent an hour counting and adding the latest delivery of gemstones, after which Gnome Divide shared them into six piles of five to be distributed to the good people of Numeria tomorrow. But I’m afraid that none of us can remember how many were in the delivery. It seems almost impossible, but we have all forgotten the count! Can you help us so that we do not have to start from the very beginning again?”

“Certainly, I can!” said Gnome Multiply. “Let’s see, six piles of five. We can count by five, six times. Here we go! Five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty. There are thirty gemstones in the last delivery of the day. Now you can account for it in the golden record book and we can all go to dinner!”

“Hurray! To the banquet room!” they all cried. Everyone was grateful — Gnome Multiply had saved the day.

VERSE FOR GNOME MULTIPLY

Gnome Multiply knows quite well

That two times two makes four

He always likes to multiply

Of that he is quite sure.

Activity

Draw Gnome Multiply, Recite verse, Write his name

DAY 9: Practise

“Multiplication is a speedy way of counting piles or groups of numbers”

Draw multiply symbol into ML book (you could also make with beeswax) and present some word problems which can be answered using manipulatives (24 gems) 

And then write into main lesson book. 

Eg. 

Gnome Multiply has come to help the others count their jewels again. There were 6 piles with 4 gems in each. How many altogether? Have Louie use the twenty-four gems to determine the answer. Then illustrate what we did by drawing gem piles in his ML book. Under the illustration write the “number sentence”: 6 x 4 = 24 

Day 10

Practise all + x -÷

Work on more problems in book.

WEEK 3

DAY 11

MATH GNOMES SAY GOODBYE TO MELO

Melo was homesick. Many days had passed since the day he had first come through the portal. Melo had learned so many things about numbers. And his time time spent with the Gnomes was full of interesting adventures. He was discovering how fun numbers could be. Melo didn’t want to leave, but he missed his family.

Before he had come through the portal to Numeria, Cipher had told him that once he entered Numeria he would gain the power to return to his home whenever he wanted, simply by placing his hands over his heart and speaking the words, “ I desire to return home.”

And likewise, he would always have access to the land of Numeria and could return whenever he wished, simply by placing his hands over his heart and speaking the words “Desire to return to the Land of Numeria.”

Knowing this, Melo decided to go home. Afterall, he reasoned, he could return whenever he wanted.

So one afternoon Melo told the Gnomes. “Gnome Divide, Gnome Minus, Gnome Plus and Gnome Multiply,  I have decided to go home for awhile. I have so enjoyed meeting the four of you and being in your company, but I miss my family.  I will return to Numeria soon though and when I do you can teach me many more wonderful things about numbers.”

“Well,” said Gnome Divide “we shall miss you while you are gone. But we will continue our work in the Treasure Room and wait patiently for your return.”

“Let us have a special tea before you go!”  said Gnome Plus, “I will bake some cookies for us to share.”

Gnome Plus baked 3 trays of cookies to share. One had 7, one had 10 and one had 8.

“Let me see how many there are altogether.

7 plus 10 makes 17…

17 plus 8 equals 25 cookies!”

“OK.” said Gnome Divide “Let me divide them between us.” The generous gnome began to divide the cookies onto 5 plates. When he finished, each had five cookies on their plate.

Just then, Gnome Minus rushed into the room and tripped, knocking one plateful onto the floor and breaking them.

“Oh dear, I’m so terribly sorry!” Said Gnome Minus

“Never mind, never mind,” said the others, “there still lots left to share, it is not a problem at all,” they smiled at him reassuringly.

“Let’s see how many we have now,” said Gnome Multiply.

“We have 4 plates with 5 cookies each. 4 x 5 =20!”

“Wonderful!” Said Gnome Divide, and once again he began to share the cookies amongst the friends. When he had finished, each now had 4 cookies.

Melo and the Gnomes enjoyed their cookies and tea together and afterwards they said their goodbyes. Melo left the Treasure Room and retraced his steps through the tunnels and out the little door. He was on his way home at last and couldn’t wait to share all about his big adventure. 

Activity

Draw final MLB picture

Days 12 – 15: Practise

work on problems from each of the 4 processes and have Louie create some for me to solve

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