Book Review: Active Arithmetic! and Math Lessons for Elementary Grades April 28 2017

Two books that address the Waldorf approach to math and arithmetic in inventive and different ways to teach it are worth a great deal of attention and could be overlooked because they are not long and are far from theoretical. Some books bring large imaginations of math and other give practical things to actually do. These two books are practical.

Henning Andersen’s, Active Arithmetic!, is about bringing arithmetic to life through movement, play, games, and rhythm. Henning Andersen is an experienced Waldorf teacher from Denmark and his years of teaching and his keen observation of children and how they learn are all clear in this small book, packed with many games and activities to do with children to bring the workings of arithmetic into the bodies of youngsters for maximum comprehension.

The goals of the activities are clear and hold in them little keys to big ideas that carry the potential of dawning on learners as each activity unfolds.  Movement is an important element to human life and human comprehension.  The younger the human being, the more movement needed!  The more movement, the more engagement.  The more engagement the better the learning. Andersen gives clear descriptions of how each movement activity can be done, the context in which to bring each one, and the results he experienced with different classes.  In other words, everything you need know to try these exercises with your children is here in this one book!

Dorothy Harrer’s book, Math Lessons for Elementary Grades is another indispensable book for anyone wishing to teach children arithmetic.  Harrer is also an experienced Waldorf teacher of many years like Henning.  Hers is also a book of practical exercises, games and activities. In her suggestions, unlike in Henning’s, there are also exceptionally beautiful ideas to draw for children on the blackboard which open doors to sparkling imaginations of math.

Discovering square numbers by drawing the kingdom of cubes, for example, pops the miracle of these numbers into a story and a context that render them unforgettable. Or figuring out who is the richest number, we are steeped in color and form and fun while also laying a childlike, picture-based foundation of factoring for later in elementary arithmetic lessons.

Are you concerned about your child’s math skills?  Are you wondering how to bring a math idea to your class in an unusual, memorable way?  These books are indispensable! Perhaps the best thing about these books is that they turn your mind from the drier approaches to teaching arithmetic, and open the faucet of your own imaginative ideas for teaching math.

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