Math in Our Waldorf Homeschool: Place Value and Regrouping

Linking to Waldorf Wednesday!

When my son was in first grade last year, we worked on place value and regrouping (carrying and borrowing) during two of our math blocks.  I was really pleased with how the lessons turned out, so I wanted to share the resources I used for our block.

Having used the stories of the math gnomes from Marsha Johnson to introduce the four processes addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, I decided to carry the gnome stories into our lessons on place value and regrouping.  I ad-libbed a story about the gnomes finding a large cash of jewels and how they needed to figure out a way to organize and keep track of all of the jewels they found.  The gnomes decided that each time they collected 10 jewels, they would put them in a small bag.  When they had 10 small bags, they would collect them into a larger sack.  When they had 10 large sacks, they would put them into a basket and load them on a cart to carry out of the mine.  


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I then gave my son “jewels,” small bags, and large sacks to practice keeping track of the jewels the way the gnomes did.  (He caught on quickly and I didn’t feel the need to make him bag 1000 jewels so we stopped at 500.)  Next, I showed him how we could write our numbers using the same process: a place for the single jewels “the ones,” a  place for the small bags of ten jewels “the tens,” a place for the large sacks of one hundred jewels “the hundreds,” and a place for the baskets, “the thousands.”  We talked about how you could go on collecting things into larger and larger groups of 10, then we practiced reading and writing place value to the millions for a couple of days.


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In our next math block, we talked about adding two large amounts of jewels together.  All the while we used our jewel manipulatives to show how we must collect the 10 loose jewels into a small bag, the smaller bags into a large sack, and so on.   We then practiced writing this process on paper – “carrying” our bags and sacks into their new place.  Subtracting and borrowing was done in the same way.  I would give him certain number of jewels and ask him to take away a specified amount.  He would have to open the sacks  and bags and regroup the jewels to achieve the answer.  We then practiced how this works on paper.


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I bought the “jewels” at Walmart.  The small bags and large sacks were from Oriental Trading Company. 

Please link up with your favorite activities to teach math of any kind.

Thanks for visiting!

Mrs. Mallard

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