Time & Measurement – A short maths block

A couple of weeks ago I did a short maths block with Elki. I wanted to go through a couple of new concepts with him that we didn’t cover last year, and for Elki to revise work we had done on the four processes, before we move onto higher grade maths this year. The new concepts were time and measurement.

In his first main lesson we started out by making a clock from cardboard. I asked Elki to trace around a plate and cut out the circle. Then I asked him to divide the circle into four, and then further divide each quadrant into three. He then wrote the numbers around the clock face. After this I asked him to mark the minutes between each number. He did all this by sight. To finish the clock he drew the two hands and cut them out, then attached them to the clock face. We used a button on each side, which Elki threaded onto the clock with some gardening wire, twisting it at the back to secure it.

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Telling the time on a clock that is not digital is something I have never formally gone through with Elki so this is what we worked on each day throughout this block, practising with the clock he had made. I made sure he understood quarter-to, quarter-past, and half-past, I asked him to make particular times on the clock, made times on the clock and asked him to tell me what they were, and asked him questions about how long it is between two different times. We also practised the five times tables by calling them out whilst clapping, and I talked to him about how there is five minutes between each number.

To reinforce what he was learning I read him some poems that I had from my old grade 3 Christopherus curriculum, and had Elki copy them out into his maths book. The first one is a riddle, and even though it is a very easy riddle Elki still loved it, riddles are something he really enjoys.

‘It has a very round face

with arms in the nose’s place.

The long arm is fast,

the short arm comes last.

But it’s really no race,

as each keeps it’s pace

and tells you the time.

What is it?’

‘Sixty seconds make each minute,

put a lot of kindness in it.

Sixty minutes makes an hour,

work with all your might and power.’

I asked Elki to read the second poem out to me each day, and made sure he knew how many seconds there are in a minute, and how many minutes there are in an hour. Another activity we did throughout the block was word problems using lengths of time. Elki particularly enjoys word problems and always asks for more when we do this! Apart from working with the clock I also went through the days, weeks, and months of the year with Elki. We looked through our calendar reading out the names of each month, looked at how many weeks are in a month, and talked about February and leap years. We used this poem to help with remembering how many days are in each month,

‘Thirty days hath September,

April, June and November.

All the rest have thirty-one,

but February stands alone.’

and I also showed Elki the trick of using your knuckles, (you know the one where you clench your fist and each knuckle and the gaps in between are a month, the knuckles being the months that have thirty-one days and the gaps in between being the months that have thirty days?)

I also got Elki to copy this poem by Christina Rossetti and read it out to me in the days following,

‘How many days in a week?

Seven both to hear and speak.

How many weeks in a month?

Four, as swift as the moon runn’th.

How many months in a year?

Twelve the almanac makes clear.

How many years in an age?

One hundred says the sage.

How many ages in time?

No one knows the rhyme.’

and asked him to try and recite the months of the year in order.

After time, we moved onto measurement. Elki has already used measurement in other ways, including the building block he did with Scott earlier in the year, but I wanted to make sure he was confident with it. The first thing we did was, using a measuring tape, measured different parts of Elki’s body. I introduced the terms circumference, height, length, and width, and we measured the length of his arms and legs, hand width, wrist, chest, and head circumference, thumb length, and his total height. I then got Elki to draw a picture of himself in his maths book and write down all the measurements next to his body parts.

I also talked to Elki about millimetres, centimetres, metres, and kilometres and got him to write the definitions of these in his maths book,

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and got him to trace around a ruler, mark and write the centimetres, and mark the half-centimetres.

This block was the first time I was giving both the children main lessons, now that Anusha has started grade 1. So after working with Elki on the new maths concepts I gave him worksheets of problems using the four processes to work on while I began Anusha’s main lesson. It was revision for Elki so he wasn’t learning anything new, although the problems did get gradually harder and as he hadn’t worked on any problems since late last year I did have to quickly jog his memory about borrowing and carrying.

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It worked out really well and now we have settled into a rhythm of working in this way, where I start with Elki’s main lesson, introducing him to new work, then give him work to go on with while I work with Anusha on her main lesson. During this block I also introduced Elki to cursive writing. This was something I have thought about whether or not to bother with in the past but decided that I felt it was an important skill for him to learn. I was also worried that Elki would really dislike it as he has never really enjoyed writing but to my surprise he’s loving it! We are continuing on with cursive throughout the block we are doing now, Norse mythology, and I will write a separate post about it soon.


How we started this year

Before we went camping a few weeks ago we attempted to do some homeschooling while my parents were here. We did get some work done, but we were weren’t too full on about it as I think it is most important for the children to spend the time with their grandparents who they only get to see once or twice a year.

I thought I would share what we did accomplish before I post about what we are doing now!

I started Anusha’s first grade with a block of Form drawing. Traditionally in Waldorf schools first grade starts with a form drawing block before the children move on to learning the alphabet and numbers.

We started with the straight line. I told Anusha that the straight line was like a tall tree reaching up to the sky. We practised being tall, straight trees, walked straight lines on the floor, and drew straight lines in the air. We went outside and looked for straight lines; tree trunks, branches, trampoline poles, the decking, and Anusha practised being a straight line whilst jumping on the trampoline. We drew straight lines in the dirt with our fingers and toes, and then went back inside to look for mores straight lines, and there were a lot!

After this Anusha made straight lines with playdough, practised drawing a straight line on the blackboard and on some paper, and then finally drew a straight line in her main lesson book,


Over the next few days we did some different forms with the straight line,


each time going through a similar process.

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Drawing in the sand tray usually led to play with animals but I wanted to take it slowly for Anusha’s first main lesson block, and it’s a bit hard to resist playing in the sand!

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After we had gone through a few forms with the straight line we moved onto the curved line. We imagined the curved line to be the sun rising over the horizon, and the one below using three curved lines to be a mountain range.

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I will continue with form drawing throughout the year, probably as a weekly lesson alongside other main lessons, when we’ll move onto standing forms. It was a little bit hard starting with form drawing because Anusha was soooo excited about starting to learn the alphabet, but once we got started each day she did enjoy it, especially the parts of the lesson when we were being active and making the forms with our bodys.

Whilst I was doing form drawing with Anusha, Elki was doing a building block with his father. Building is actually a third grade main lesson but we weren’t following a Waldorf curriculum when Elki was nine, and we thought it would still be a wonderful thing for him and his father to do together. They started building a treehouse from scratch, using wood sourced from our property, or old timber we had stored. A while before they started we borrowed a couple of books from the library about how to build treehouses and play forts, they picked a tree together, and began by drawing up the plans.


Scott gave Elki an old tool belt that he didn’t use, and we bought him a new saw.

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Throughout this process Scott is trying to get Elki to do as much of the building as possible, such as drawing the patterns, measuring, sawing, and drilling. Elki has been really enthusiastic and I think he loves the idea that when it is finished he will have done a lot of the building himself. They are going to continue building in the afternoons and hope to have it finished in a few weeks!