One of the things I love about Waldorf is how holistically it approaches math. We start at the whole and then break it down into its parts. Thus, eight is four plus four, and two plus two plus two plus two, and four times two, and not the other way around.

Another thing I love is how the four processes are approached together beginning in first grade.

Unfortunately, I forsake what I knew to work and dabbled in other methods when it came time for Nicholas to learn mathematics, and so now in third grade we are trying to get a handle on the times tables.


Nicholas and I are entering the wonderful world of multiplication! So far this year we’ve worked on adding and subtracting with carrying and borrowing and place value. We were meant to have begun multiplication last year but somehow it got missed. He understands the basic concept– multiplication as extended addition– but we’ve never really explicitly studied it.

Skip counting is a good way to begin a study of multiplication, and counting by twos is always fun. You can count pairs of feet, pairs of mittens, pairs of animals lining up to get on Noah’s Ark (a great way to combine the two times tables with the Old Testament main lesson block!). We’ve added a practical component as well, hand washing and hanging pairs of socks on the line, then counting them by two.

Nicholas is starting off second grade with a math/4 operations main lesson block. We’re beginning by exploring the concepts of greater than, less than, and equal to. This is an essential concept to be grasped when working with all operations, as well as a skill a child will carry with them as they get into higher mathematics.

We went with the alligator imagery I remember from when I was a child, although I found this great shark idea from Almost Unschoolers as well.  I told a story about a greedy alligator who always wanted to eat whatever there was the most of.

You may have noticed that we’ve been a wee bit obsessed with pentominoes lately. A pentomino is a  set of 12 figures, each made of five congruent (same size,, same shape) squares. Using at least three, you then try to make a rectangle by fitting them together.We became hooked on them after reading Chasing Vermeer and were introduced to three-dimensional pentominoes after reading the sequel, The Wright Three.

First day with the pentominoes

Here’s a little math game I made up for Nicholas. I divided the posterboard into eight sections and colored them in rainbow order. He tossed golden gems on the numbers I wrote on the board and added them together.

Recently, my kids have been enjoying a little wooden memory board put out by Melissa and Doug. It was fun, but a little simplistic. I found a way to upgrade it so Nicholas could use it to help with his Quality of Numbers main lesson block.

First I used one of the existing boards as a template and traced it on a piece of cardstock. After I cut it out, I placed it in the board and traced little circles to show me where to place the pictures.

Next I colored them.