Thursday, November 7, 2019

Quality of Numbers: One & Two

Another famous -- and fabulous -- Waldorf block, this one is all about getting a sense of the quality of each number. Instead of just being able to make the number, children actually experience it in their bodies and connect with it on an emotional level. Many of the numbers have archetypal qualities (such as 3 often being the number of obstacles to be overcome in a fairy tale). And 1 has a sense of wholeness and uniqueness. There's only one of each of us!

Montessori does a wonderful job of having math work be hands-on, but there is never a sense of the magic of it all, and there's no emphasis on children getting the numbers into the other parts of their body. When you feel the Waldorf verses and movements happen, you can really tell how different it is from the Montessori way. I would never replace this block, but I do build on the Waldorf introduction by adding in Montessori materials later on (especially since the Golden Bead Material and Colored Bead Bars look just like gems; in fact, there's a Montessori work called The Jeweled Layout). More on that later!

In this block, the Roman numerals as well as the Arabic numerals are introduced. The Roman numerals more closely resemble body counting (finger, hand, crossed arms) and are more intuitive for young children.

Just as children actually can experience the origins of our alphabet in the Capital Letters block, by seeing how written letters evolved from shapes in drawn pictures, they are given a sense of how our number system evolved.

I have taught the Quality of Numbers block before but this time I am basing my work heavily on a series of blog posts from Ancient Hearth which I found & remembered about when checking my website for my own notes about teaching this topic. You can't imagine how helpful it is to have a website as a homeschooler, since you often stumble upon things years before you'll need them. It's lovely to have a place to make those notes for the future. And, since the note I had written for myself said "Best main lesson block planning blog post EVER," I was certainly very interested in clicking on them!

I'm pleased about having a continuous storyline woven throughout, as opposed to teaching this with ten separate stories standing alone. I think it will add to the children's experience as well as to mine, and increase the imaginative nature of the work. You can feel free to look ahead at Quality of Numbers I to IIII, Quality of Numbers V to IX, and Quality of Numbers X (which is where the magic really happens). Enjoy!

Monday, November 4

RNS prep beforehand:
clear away Autumn scene from Nature table and leave it empty

  • recall Sun Bread story from Capital Letters block (I, J)
  • bake Sun Bread recipe
  • Form Drawing of vertical lines (like the rain falling)
  • Working with the gesture of rain falling from the top of the page to the bottom is important as my students begin to write their letters and numbers. Many children develop very bad handwriting patterns early on when trying to form letters and numbers, and these problems of incorrect letter formation plague them for years. It is crucial that the correct pathways be established immediately as muscle memory is already kicking in.

    There are no uppercase or lowercase letters and there are no numbers which are written starting from the ground and going up (in Chancery Script, the A, M, and N all begin with a starting stroke that is not at the baseline). In every letter which is formed with more than one stroke, when you lift the writing implement from the page, it rises up before beginning to make a mark again, to the left, to the right, or down. Children who have taught themselves to make the letters and numbers will often begin at the ground, to steady themselves, and then try to form the letter from there. This is not appropriate. Working with Form Drawing at the start of this block gives me a way to gently remind them (draw it like the falling rain) instead of a harsh correction.

Tuesday, November 5

RNS prep beforehand:
choose dish for number cards to be hidden on, cut 10 squares of 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 inch heavy vellum, write Roman and Arabic numerals in glitter glue, cover first paper with salt, prepare salt tray for students to share, set up story scene with tree, figures, silks, pine cones, and the shell for scooping

  • introduce container story for this block
  • have children solve the first riddle
  • move salt to reveal Roman and Arabic numerals for 1
  • rhythmical walking - Miss Prim
  • discuss What is One?
  • practice drawing I and 1 in the salt tray
  • add I and 1 to MLB
  • hear The Sun poem from Eric Fairman, p.69
  • add colored pencil artwork of The Sun to MLB
  • hear second riddle
  • The heavy vellum is nice because you can lay a piece of lined paper under it and keep your lines of glitter glue straight! It also looks fancier than cardstock. I used red glitter glue for the Roman numerals and green for the Arabic.

    I wrote the Roman numeral first on each card because it is older. I wrote the Arabic numeral in green to lay the foundation for the Montessori color coding for digits. In Montessori, green is the units place. The glass dish which holds the cards is also green.

    For our figures, I used two little flower girls (Calendula and Plantain) handcarved in the Czech Republic, the lively little Holztiger squirrel, and the majestic Holztiger elk.

    I had great fun setting up the Nature table to be our world for these stories. For our silks, I used the silver silk as the base of the mountainous world, which is just rocky with pine cones. This is on the left hand side of the table. I used my green glass platter for the number cards covered with salt, and turned the small green glass bowl over to be the mountain for them to climb. I covered it with silk to look more mountainous. The Mexican agate tealight holder (which will be the secret cave door) I placed at the back of the table, with more of the silver over it, and I placed the seashell by the cave door. I hid the elk behind the window curtain. So handy! I laid the blue/green/brown silkscape over everything and put the flower children and the oak tree with acorns at the base of it on the right hand side of the table, which is the world they start their journey in. And I hid the frisky squirrel under the silk beside them.

    I told the story as in the Ancient Hearth blog post with a few modifications. The flower girls follow a lively little squirrel. When they climb to the top of the mountain they encounter a majestic wise elk, who is the ruler of this strange pale land. He tells them that this land was once covered by an ancient ocean. The cave in the mountain behind him was once a secret grotto. As they solve each riddle, they brush away the salt from the ground at his feet (I like salt better for tracing figures in). The salt is of course from that ancient ocean, which once covered even the tallest mountain. The children in my class also have a salt tray to practice making each symbol in.

    The riddle for ONE:

      As straight as a spear I stand,
      To reach for the sky with both my hands.
      My shape reveals how many "I am".

      ~ The Upright Human Being

      from Eric Fairman, p.21

    The riddle for TWO:

      For me and you, we each have two
      It's not our feet or hands to eat.
      Our legs are strong, but that too is wrong.
      Our arms are bold, but this we can not hold.
      With these you see with so much glee...
      What am I?

      ~ The Eyes

      from Ancient Hearth blog post

Thursday, November 7

RNS prep beforehand:
cover second paper with salt, collect nature fact books by Steve Jenkins

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Lorri Shannon said...

Hi! Where can I find the rest of the story? I am starting the quality of numbers block next week, and I had been planning to just introduce separate stories for the numbers, as I did with the consonants, but then I found your blog post!

Renee said...

Hi Lorrie! This is one of the only blocks where I use a container story! I love it! :-)

As I wrote, I was inspired by the Ancient Hearth posts:

The riddles I wrote for each number are in a free PDF on my website.

And my most recent notes from teaching this last month are in the Ruzuku course I wrote for the Quality of Numbers block.

The list of books and activities we just finished is here: