Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Adventures with the math gnomes

We welcomed the math gnomes into our family with a special candle lighting ceremony. Cammy made each of the gnomes their own hand rolled beeswax candle complete with their math symbol decorating it. She also decorated an advent candle for our family and we lit them all. I finally finished the math gnomes for Cammy for her Christmas present this year. She knew they were in the works because she has seen me working on them off and on for months now. We had such a busy fall that all my intentions to introduce her to many of the math concepts through the adventures of these curious little gnomes fell by the wayside. We have been doing lots of math all along but she has been so worked up and eager to do math with these characters I didn't think I was going to be able to contain her. Ever since we did a unit on Medieval and Renaissance times with our time machine she has been asking "Mom, when are we going to start with the math gnomes?" She has them linked in her head with that time era because I had my husband dress up and pretend to be King Equals one day and ask Cammy for her help in solving a dilema on how to divide a cake evenly among everyone who was invited to the royal ball. We did this by folding paper to see how many cuts would need to be made to make enough pieces of cake for everyone. Good King Equals was insistent that everyone's slice be the same size to be fair. Then we cut into an actual cake that we had baked together using the folded paper guidelines. The King was surely going to need more help in the future to count his treasures so he insisted that Cammy help him find the legendary math gnomes. Thinking I would have the gnomes ready right away she was charged with going on an adventure to find these math gnomes that were known for their knowledge of numbers. Needless to say the math gnomes did not get finished that night and we got sidetracked by about two months to be exact. She took a trip back to the present in her time machine and the benevolent King Equals was left to count his own gold and cut his own cakes.

Here are the four gnomes in their cave each with their own math symbol representing the four basic math processes: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
Well, needless to say she was thrilled when she saw the little gnomes complete with bags and hats along with a small King Equals by the Christmas tree. She wanted to do math with them that very day but we waited to go on any math adventures for a few days until all of our Christmas guests took their leave. By this time some of the gnomes had misplaced their hats. With my husband distracting her I surprised her and set up the gnomes in the front yard by the twisty wisteria and pine tree. I hung a blanket to make it more cave like and confined because the gnomes lived deep underground. It was very cold and windy outside the day we went adventuring with the gnomes and luckily the blanket blocked a little of the wind.

Here is the yellow gnome whom we have named Times Multiply climbing up through the twisting tunnels of the mine to get to the surface. Below is the blue gnome whom we have named Marcus Minus at the entrance to the cave.
I was inspired by several different Wadorf homeschool bloggers and their own math gnome stories. I took a bit here and there and pieced together a story for an adventure that I knew would fit into our studies. I got a great deal of my inspiration from Serendipity here is a link where you can get her math gnome stories. She has many marvelous ideas and pictures and has been amazing generous in making these available to download.
Download gnomes_and_gnumbers_lesson_one.pdf

Here is a shortened version of the story I came up with for Cammy.
The Gnomes ran out of jewels to gather and count deep in their underground cavern so they made their way to the bright surface. It was a long, winding and treacherous path through the tunnels of the mine. None of them had ever been to the surface before and didn't know what to expect when they came to the cave opening. They had never seen such a blinding bright light as the sun.
When their eyes had finally adjusted they saw before them a vast and beautiful land and they bravely began to explore sure that they would find huge troves of gems. They soon came across a huge pile of colorful gems at the foot of a great tree. The Yellow gnome having spotted the treasure first started grabbing all the gems for himself but the red gnome named David Divide suggested that to be fair they should divide the gems evenly among themselves. The gnomes had never had to count or divide such a vast treasure and were unsure of how to count so many gems. They thought long and hard wanting to be sure that the gems would be divided evenly.
Finally the green gnome named Adam Plus suggested that they use sticks to count how many gems there were. This got confusing very quickly as they laid out one stick for each gem that was counted and they were running out of sticks to count with. The red gnome suggested that they break the stick in half and make the shape of a V (like the shape between your fingers when you hold up five fingers) when they had five gems. The gnomes continued counting deciding that one stick before the V would be four IV and that one stick after the V would be six and so on. When they got to ten they decided to cross two of the sticks to make an X. We laid out the gems and practiced making the roman numerals with sticks that we found around the base of the weeping willow tree.

1 comment:

  1. I love your blog! Makes me wish I has kids to home school! Great seeing Mark yesterday briefly on the road. Best of luck with the math gnomes! If I had those I think I would have enjoyed math so much more!

    Saw this & had to think of you & all you are doing. http://pinkandgreenmama.blogspot.com/2010/01/waldorf-window-stars.html

    Thanks for sharing all this on your blog. Inspiring!


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