Clothespin Math Gnomes

By freshlyplanted - 4:41 PM

Our imaginative children learn best from stories, songs, and rhymes. I come up with these stories as needed, but it's nice to borrow when possible. If you've never heard of the Math Gnomes before, you are in for a treat. These Gnomes show up a lot in the Waldorf classroom, and there are many different varieties of this story. Each Gnome wants to gather jewels for King Equal- but they each have a different talent. I'll be sharing a little of the story first, then directions on how to make your own sweet gnomes- with a free printable too!

The Math Gnome Story

Deep down in the Cave of Jewels there live four Gnomes who love to collect jewels for King Equal. They were having trouble figuring out how many jewels they had gathered, so the kind King taught them how to use all their fingers- and their two ears!- to count to twelve. Now, each day, they wake bright and early and work hard to each bring twelve jewels to the King's treasure cave. Each Gnome is very different, and has different gifts. 

The Plus Gnome is green and greedy. He's always looking for more jewels to add to what he's already collected. 

The Minus Gnome is blue and sad. He has holes in his pockets, and loses jewels wherever he goes- so he never arrives at the treasure cave with as many jewels as he thinks he has. 

The Times Gnome is yellow and bright. He loves the King so much that he makes at least two trips to bring the King twice as many jewels as everyone else. 

The Minus Gnome is red and a peace-maker. He's always trying to help other gnomes by giving them half of what he's already collected. 

And King Equal is always there, to help the Gnomes figure out just how many jewels they have- and to encourage them no matter how many they've lost along the way. 

For more about the Math Gnomes, I recommend these resources
Serendipity: Gnomes & Numbers- Beautiful Math Gnome Tales along with several lesson plans. (Her place value lesson is especially brilliant.)

A Tale of Plus Gnome: A special story just for the Plus Gnome, along with a free worksheet.

Oak Meadows Homeschool First Grade Curriculum- Which is where our original inspiration came from! This is the curriculum we use and love. 

Clothespin Math Gnomes | Freshly Planted

How to make Math Gnomes: 

The first step is painting your wooden clothespins. As I shared in our Clothespin Fairies project, we love to use acrylics on these. With art clothes and covered work spaces, I think acrylics are great for painting with kids. It's water-based and dries quickly, so they can keep adding details pretty quickly. You can paint your gnomes however you like; I added a little v-neck on mine just for fun. 

When the bodies were dry, we added faces and hats. I made up our template as we went (which I'll share with you at the end to save you a step). For the King's hat, I added french knots around the brim, then stitched it together at the back. For his robe, I made a french knot on one side, stitched it in the middle, then ended with a french knot on the other side. 

For the rest of the Gnome hats, I started them at the top then Isia stitched the rest of the way. I then embroidered their special sign on their hat.

Aren't they a good-looking group? We were so pleased with how they turned out, especially Isia who begins each school day asking, "When do we get to count jewels with the Gnomes?" 

Just in case I've not shared this before, or it's been awhile, Isia & I are journeying through the Oak Meadows First Grade Curriculum for a second time, after using it last year for her Kindergarten year. I thought we'd be ready to jump ahead this year, and ordered the second grade set. But, perusing it, something didn't fit. Yes, Isia could do the work- but did we want her to? Did we want to help move her ahead quickly- or slow down & savor these fleeting moments of childhood? I revisited the reasons I appreciate homeschooling her, and our recent lessons in latency to decide to slow down a bit. Projects like these Gnomes are helping us go deeper into the curriculum this year, and keep it magical for all of us. 

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*Find more Creative Ideas on our Facebook page & Pinterest boards.

*Click on image for Free Printable

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