Waldorf educations introduces children to all four math processes during one of the 1st grade math blocks. Since, Waldorf schools often use gnomes to help children internalize the concept of the four math processes, I decided to make a DIY math gnome set. In regards to the colors of the math gnomes, I found that most people tend to use these colors:
- Addition – “Plus” – Green
- Subtraction – “Minus” – Blue
- Multiplication – “Times” – Yellow
- Division – “Divide” – Red
- Equals – “Kind Equals” – Purple
I’ve read a couple of explanations about why to use these particular colors, but it ends up that math gnomes aren’t actually a Steiner invention. Instead, they are a more modern invention of an American educator, Dorothy Harrer, which she wrote about in her book Math Lessons for the Elementary Grades. Otherwise, I found a few blogs which discuss each gnomes color/personality type at Hinterland Mama Blog, Five of Us, and Red Ted Art.
- Peg Dolls (4) – dad/No.5 size (2 5/16″ tall)
- Peg Doll (1) – grandpa/No. 4 size (3 9/16″ tall)
- Wood burning tool or Sharpie maker
- Watercolor paints
- Felt scraps in red, green, yellow, blue, and purple
- Embroidery floss
- Colored pencils (optional)
- Beeswax polish (optional)
- If you will be using a wood burning tool, first use a pencil to mark each small peg doll with a addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division symbol. Then mark the large peg doll with an equal sign. Finally, burn the symbol on each doll.
- Paint the dolls’ bodies with watercolor paints.
- If using a wood burning tool, you may want to go over the symbols one more time once the paint has dried.
- If using a Sharpie, once the paint has dried, mark each small peg doll with a addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division symbol. Then mark the large peg doll with an equal sign.
- Using the pattern below (they are on the bottom of the page of the printable), cut out a gnome hat out of your blue, red, green, and yellow felt. Cut a crown out of purple felt.
- Stitch the hats and crown closed, using a running stitch.
- Glue the matching hats and/or crown to each peg dolls.
- If desired, draw faces on the dolls with colored pencils.
- If desired, buff the painted bodies with beeswax polish.