Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Number Verses for the Quality of Numbers Block

It is a key part of the Quality of Numbers block to move around the room and chant rhythmically, learning to embody the gestures and skip counting patterns of different numbers. There are existing arithmetic verses created by some long-ago anonymous person, upon whom Waldorf teachers have relied for years. These can be found in Marsha Johnson's files, Barbara Dewey's math book for grades 1-3, Eric Fairman's grade 1 book, etc.

Here I have written down the traditional 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 10 verses. Since there aren't any for 7, 8, and 9 I figured out what those would be for my class. In the blog posts for each day I've written the riddles that we used to introduce each number. I'm working on making an easy-to-print PDF with all of the riddles... and I have just completed one for the movement verses.

I have a family strange indeed
Each member goes a different speed
They can walk for half a day
Counting footsteps all the way.

Here's number one (It's Auntie Prim!)
from Marsha Johnson

My name is Prim
I'm tall and thin
My walk is straight
My clothes are trim
Count my footsteps
And you'll see
That every one's
The same for me.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 etc.

Here's number two (It's Grandpa Hugh!)
from Marsha Johnson -- get out your "cane"
step harder on every second step

But MY two STEPS are NOT the SAME
For I must LEAN upON my CANE
AlTHOUGH I'm BENT and WEAK and OLD
I STILL can WALK with FOOTsteps BOLD

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 etc.

Here's number three (It's little Timmy!)
from Marsha Johnson - get out your "ball"
step in a short, short, long pattern (bounce, bounce, reach for your ball)

Bright and GAY
I would MUCH
Rather PLAY
I can RUN
With my BALL
While my FOOT
Steps I CALL

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 etc.

Here's number four (It's Cousin Lenore!)
from Marsha Johnson / Barbara Dewey
march and step harder on every fourth step

My step is STRONG
I'll not go WRONG
With all my MIGHT
I'll guard what's RIGHT
I'll always KNOW
How far to GO.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 etc.

Here's number five (It's Cousin Clive!)
from Marsha Johnson
tiptoe like a ballet dancer for verse and then leap for each number

Carefully I go
On my tippy toe
Looking to the left
Looking to the right
Lightly I arrive
I am number five

5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 etc.

Here's number six (It's the Elf Beatrix!)
from Barbara Dewey
skip five times and hop on sixth beat

One, two, three, four, five, SIX
I can do lots of TRICKS.
I've a friend -- number THREE --
He's a helper to ME.
He has taught me to PLAY.
But I have my own WAY.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 etc.

Here's number seven (It's the Witch Raven!)
wiggle fingers like casting a spell and then clap on last syllable
excerpt from Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I [Round about the cauldron go]

Round about the cauldron GO [...]
Fillet of a fenny SNAKE,
In the cauldron boil and BAKE;
Eye of newt and toe of FROG,
Wool of bat and tongue of DOG,
Lizard's leg and howlet's WING [...]
Scale of dragon, tooth of WOLF,
Witches’ mummy, maw and GULF
Of the ravin’d salt-sea SHARK

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 etc.

Here's number eight (It's her cat, Hecate!)
creep around the room and pounce on last syllable
"On Guard" from My Cat Has Eyes of Sapphire Blue by Aileen Fisher, p.4

Oh, sweep the floor, but watch the BROOM!
A mini-tiger stalks this ROOM,
Prepared to pounce, to bring to DOOM
A monster vicious as a BROOM.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 etc.

Here's number nine (It's the Gnome Crystalline!)
"Treasures" from The Waldorf Book of Poetry edited by David Kennedy, p.7
tap with fingertips and knock with knuckles on last syllable

Through echoing caves we run and GLIDE,
Through cracks in the rocks we slip and SLIDE,
Over great boulders we leap and BOUND;
Little lamps show where treasure is FOUND.
We hammer, hammer from morn till NIGHT,
We hammer, hammer treasure so BRIGHT,
Sparkling silver, glittering GOLD,
Crystals so pure and clear to beHOLD.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 etc.

Here's number ten (It's the Giant Sven!)
from Marsha Johnson -- take big steps pretending you're a giant

A giant am I, just sauntering BY
To number so high I quickly will FLY.

10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 etc.

It is a bit hard to cite my sources, since the original verses for the numbers 1 through 6 and 10 are anonymous, and each Waldorf teacher tweaks them a little bit to suit their style.

It was from Marsha Johnson that I got the names Auntie Prim, Grandpa Hugh, Little Timmy, Cousin Lenore, and Cousin Clive for the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. It makes sense to do each of these verses repeatedly when doing those numbers (for number 1, do Auntie Prim; for number 2, do Auntie Prim and Grandpa Hugh; for number 3, do Auntie Prim and Grandpa Hugh and Little Timmy; and so on).

I used the "From Big Voice to Tiny Voice" poem from Verses and Poems and Stories to Tell by Dorothy Harrer (page 3, available FREE at the Online Waldorf Library) to inspire our second batch of movements. It works best to read/perform this poem before doing each of the verses 6 through 10.

The anonymous verse already created for ten was a giant who took big steps (giant is the biggest voice in the poem). For six it did not specify a character, so I chose an elf skipping about (elf is the littlest voice in the poem).

And so, to keep things consistent and to let us spend more time practicing that very fun poem by Harrer, I used some of her other characters for the numbers that had no verses and were in between elf and giant in size.

So I chose names and verses for 7 (witch), 8 (the witch's cat), 9 (gnome), and 10 (giant).

Of course, this means that things get a bit fantastical in our "family," but I think that's okay, since it's the movement that is important. And I don't have an old man with a cane, a young boy who is always bouncing a ball, or a ballet dancer in my family anyway.

Keep it light. Keep it movement-filled. Keep it artistic. And the content will be well-suited to children of this age, who are still half in a dream-like state.

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