Grade 1 Numbers Block


This post is a part of Waldorf Wednesday. See all the links here.

Our first math block was really fun. I used the numbers as a theme, rather than introducing them strictly as a mathematical concept. Knitting, baking, modeling, playing the pennywhistle, form drawing and listening to fairy tales among other activities helped us to explore the numbers one through twelve. I think these elemental lessons in grade one (like the letters) are easy to skip, but I believe they are helping to lay a proper foundation for teaching what school looks like in our home. Jude may not be learning anything new academically speaking, but he is learning about different forms of art and movement, life skills, my expectations, his limitations, my limitations and how we navigate all of this while living and learning together. Some days this is easier than others!

I cannot recommend Eric Fairman’s slim volume Path of Discovery: Grade One more highly. It is chock full of good ideas and truly imparts the essence of grade one. If you are on a budget, this single resource would be enough of a guide to homeschooling grade one with Waldorf inspired methods. Add in knitting, baking, afternoon storytime, lots of time outside and a strong daily rhythm, and your first grader will be well served.


  • Christopherus Grade 1 Syllabus, Donna Simmons
  • Path of Discovery: Grade One, Eric Fairman
  • Grimm’s Fairy Tales


  • Modeled numbers in beeswax.


  • Painted a representation of “The Seven Ravens.”


  • Started a math main lesson book dedicating one number per page.



  • Played lots of number themed songs on the pennywhistle: “This Old Man”, “Ten in a Bed”, “Ten Little Apples (Indians)”, “99 Bottles of Pop (Beer).”
  • Baked different shaped cakes: round (#1), square and rectangle (#4).
  • Baked dozens of cookies (#12).
  • Wrote numbers in a rice tray.
  • Tossed beanbags while skip counting.
  • Marched different number rhythms.
  • Did form drawing with 5 pointed stars (#5) (photo above).

15 thoughts on “Grade 1 Numbers Block

  1. Everything you do seems to be so perfect. I know you don’t feel like that. But looking in and seeing that your kid got to make beeswax numbers and paint 7 ravens and make 10 finger handprints and bake four sided cakes. It’s all so very lovely. You have a wonderful gift.

    • Oh, I can assure you, all is not perfect. Tom and I just had a big discussion last night about getting Vincent to do more schoolwork and scout work and balancing his obsession with cooking and Cook’s Illustrated. (I can’t even believe I typed that sentence! Shouldn’t I be happy the kid is interested in something?! I’m kinda struggling with grade 5.)

      I am s-l-o-w-l-y realizing I am intimidated by so much of Waldorf – especially in the upper grades and that leads me to not do as much as I think Vincent needs. (Hence my email to you yesterday about Reggio.)

      First grade has been fun. Jude’s main lessons last about 20-30 minutes. Some days it’s a struggle, but painting, drawing and beeswax have been relatively smooth activities.

      And you know us, cakes just seem to materialize out of thin air around here!

      Hope you are well.

  2. Hi Sheila! I love Jude’s stamped fingerprints on his hands! That’s so cute. I just read through your comment to Mama above and wanted to chime in that I worry about balance with my fifth grader, too. I often feel like she could be doing so much more “school” work. It’s hard to know when to push. I’m jealous about your upcoming curriculum fair trip. I attended the 2nd annual(?) fair and I loved it. There wasn’t even a speaker, but everyone was so nice to meet. Hope you’re day has been nice.

    • Thank you for your kind words. I was in all out freak-out mode last night. Talked my husband’s ear off. I started making baby step changes today. More writing and lengthening his main lessons a little. Yes, it is so hard to know when to push. He finished a knitting project today (a cute little kite) and is in there making dinner right now (chicken tikka masala). This is all good right?!XXX Oh those plaguing doubts!

      Yes, I am looking forward to Atlanta. I have been the previous two years. This year’s looks bigger and better.

      Love to you.

      • I have thought of Vincent and his Cooks Illustrated a number of times. My thoughts are based on the epiphany that I had on living life Big and Important.
        It’s an old post here I think you’ll like it.

        I think “Ah, that is so easy and so good. His Bigness is apparent and concretely applied. No having to keep parental eyes peeled to make sure not to miss or not to gloss over or not to extinguish that which is Big in Vincent.” And I think the same thing with Dinah’s art.

        But with Grace… I feel like I’m on the cusp of figuring out what Grace’s Bigness is — but it’s so much more amorphous and, thus, so much harder to apply and make more available. So, I have to bear being a harbor, more than an expander, while I try and figure it out more concretely.

        I think that it’s wonderful, wondrous, and a full blessing that he has found his heart at the stove and that he’s allowed to be there with it.

        To pine for your heart is a desperation too many unnecessarily know.

        A wise woman once wrote that homeschooling is not for the faint of heart.

        • I’ve been thinking about this since last night. So much in here to contemplate. Wondering how you balance bigness with well, everything else.

          I love, love, love the picture of Dinah in her beret “smoking” her paint brush. Jude “smokes” his knitting needles and it cracks me up every time.

          No, it’s not for the faint-hearted. So I’m zippin’ up my boots and gettin’ on with it today.

          Love to you my big, kind-hearted friend.

          • Ok, I think there are so many wonderful things in this thread. Vincent’s cooking Chicken Tikka Masala is one of them. It’s my favorite Indian dish. Second, I like that you (Sheila) are making “baby step changes.” Sometimes I want to jump in and change everything at once and it makes me and my children feel like we have somehow failed and need to change when that isn’t the case. We just need some tweaking. Third, I loved Mama’s comments about bigness and helping your children live what is important to them. I have thought about this recently after reading Steiner’s Education of the Child. He talks about helping children do things they love and things for which they have a natural talent. I find that talent hard to recognize sometimes. Thanks for the thought provoking comments. :)

  3. I love this thread; the support everyone is showing each other is so sweet and genuine. I too struggle with 5th grade it is nice to read I am not alone in this battle between doubt and worry. I hope to see more threads like this one. We all need to rally around one another and offer support; it makes this whole homeschool thing seem a lot less scary knowing your not alone. Thanks Sheila for all that you do:)

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  5. I love the examples you shared! You know, this is one of my favorite main lesson blocks. I think it’s because I’ve always had such a rough relationship with math, there’s something magical about connecting with numbers at the level before actually beginning the hard work of mathematics. Thanks so much for sharing on Waldorf Wednesday!

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