Math Gnomes: Plus


I think Waldorf Math Gnomes are one of the most magical ways to introduce the math processes!  It all begins with a story!

Once, a long time ago, there lived a Gnome King.  He loved the jewels found deep in the earth and asked for special helpers to fill his treasure chest.   Four very special Gnomes came forward offering their services.  The first noble Gnome was Gnome Plus.  Oh how the idea of gathering jewels for the King’s treasure chest excited him!  

“Ooo!  I can gather 2 plus 2 plus 4 plus more!” He exclaimed.

The Gnome King asked to see his work.  “Take this jar and fill it with jewels!”

Off ran Gnome Plus.  Every time he found jewels, he added more.  “Here’s three. Oooo!  Plus two!  Yes! Plus four.”  It was not long before his jar was brimming with jewels.  He counted his jewels over and over again.  He loved counting his sparkling pile.

Gnome Plus proudly went back to the Gnome King.  “Look my King,  I have a jar of jewels for your treasure chest!”

The Gnome King was thrilled.  Gnome Plus was given a cape and cap of blue and a special sign so that everyone would know his special gift of adding.  Gnome Plus stood proud next to his pile of jewels.  He guarded it and counted it for the King everyday.


Next, I created a Math Gnome set for each student in my class.


Each set has a Gnome Plus, a little glass jar of jewels, a the magic Plus Circle and the math pad (felt square).


I created a Plus Circle worksheet to go along with the set.


 The children place jewels on either side of the divided circle. (I started with 12 jewels in the jar – we added more each day.)

IMG_8479 They draw circles to represent their jewels on the worksheet.  They have to count the jewels just like Gnome Plus.


And counting these jewels was a treasured activity!


The children loved their Gnomes.  “This one is Sparkly,”  S told me as she counted her jewels.

I will continue with Gnome Plus for the next two weeks until a pesky little gnome (Gnome Minus) appears and creates havoc for Gnome Plus.  Stay tuned!

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  1. Nina says:

    Hi Sally, love this so much! Remind me what grade you are teaching this year?

    • Sally says:

      First grade! And loving it!

      • Nina says:

        Me too, except I have a combo with second grade too.

        Sooo, our state has adopted Common Core, which leaves subtraction to second grade. I feel so strange doing that!

  2. Terri says:

    Can’t wait to see what Gnome Minus gets up to! This is so cute.

  3. Kathleen says:

    Hi Sally,

    Love this idea. Where did you find the little wooden figures to decorate?


    • Sally says:

      At our local craft stores, we have Michael’s and Hobby Lobby that have all kinds of wooden shapes!

  4. Linda says:

    Hi, where to you get the wooden gnomes and glass jars? Loved you story!

    • Sally says:

      Love digging through the craft stores for all of the glass, jewels, and wooden pieces-we have Hobby Lobby and Michael’s.

  5. Tiffany says:

    Hi, this is wonderful! I am teaching grade one as well using gnome stories. Would you share your reasoning behind the circle pieces? Wondering if it’s basically a visual of # +# = a whole?

  6. Ruta says:

    I teach kindergarten….. I think the kids would really enjoy this!

  7. Kristy-lee says:

    This is truly wonderful Sally, thank you so much! Very much looking forward to seeing what Gnome Minus gets up to!

  8. Alison says:

    Thanks for your good work, Sally! This is such fun.

  9. Sarah says:

    Love this! You are so inspiring!

  10. oriana says:

    … oh wath a wonderful story and method to learn math!
    A big hugs from Italy.

  11. megan says:

    This is a great story for Plus! Did you ever get around to the others? 🙂

  12. Laura says:

    These are great! Have you posted the rest of the story? My students are showing signs that they are ready to move on to subtraction now and I’d love to add to their Gnome collection and tell them the story.

    • Sally says:

      No I have not posted the rest – but it is on my to-do list! lol!

  13. Kerryleigh says:

    Hi, my children loved this story!! Thank you for sharing it. They are really excited about what’s going to come next. There’s speculation about an entire kingdom which they want to build lol!
    It would be wonderful if you could post the next part 🙂

    • Sally says:

      I hope to eventually!!

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