The Curriculum of the Steiner School - Class 2

Notes and Lesson Plans

Math Fun: Puzzles and Games
updated May 7, 2022

Recorded here is my own personal collection of articles, resources, favorite links, teaching ideas, and lesson plans. It encompasses many years, from the very beginning of my experience studying and learning about Waldorf to the present time. People from all around the world visit my site and recommend it to others. Welcome!

This site records my journey. I hope my honesty is encouraging and helps break down some barriers that may prevent people from trying Waldorf methods. Because this is an ongoing site documenting my curriculum planning and ideas, some materials are more Waldorf-y than others. Please feel free to take what you like and leave the rest.

Math Fun: Puzzles and Games
for Class 2

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I prefer to have three MLBs for each subject and so I created "Math Fun: Puzzles and Games," in addition to the traditional second grade "Column Algorithms" and "Shapes & Number Patterns."

Without exception, I would recommend Jamie York's excellent book of math puzzles and games for grades 4 - 12. However, even as early as grades 2 and 3, I know students want a fresh challenge.

This block could also be used as a transition in the Summer between 2nd grade and 3rd grade.

Here are my notes:

Introductory Games

Spatial Puzzles

    Turn the Fish
    requires 8 wooden matches; draw the original diagram on the board so that students can return to the beginning when trying again, or after solving it

    The Farmer and His Ducks
    I think this one is easiest if you draw it but you could also have gems handy

    Coin Triangle (here is the solution)
    I set up two of these on rimmed wooden trays so that multiple people could work on the puzzle at the same time, and I drew the starting arrangement on the board so that they could return the coins to the beginning configuration after solving it

    Trees in Rows (here is the solution)
    have a box of gems handy and a piece of plain white paper for each child to set the gems on to reduce visual clutter; if people are still working on the Coin Triangle puzzle, you can have them re-use the wooden tray and 10 nickels to solve Trees in Rows

    Note: if you did not already do them, there is a list of Geometry and Spatial Sense activities at the end of the Shapes & Number Patterns block page

    doing this block in May? try making Mondrian-inspired gift bags for Mother's Day!

Logic & Computation Puzzles

    Ghostie Numbers

    Magic Triangle 1 - Magic Sum 9
    scaffold this by giving struggling students the position of two of the numbers; this site also includes other magic triangle puzzles (with sums of 10, 11, 12, and 17)

    Farmer Brown and Farmer Green
    have a box of gems handy; scaffold this by letting struggling children know that both numbers are less than ten

    some more activities from Math for Smarty Pants by Marilyn Burns

    • page 29 - On Which Day of the Week Were You Born?
    • page 60 - Having a Mathematical Conversation

Roman Numerals


    I like to do Rounding with whole numbers (as well as with units of measurement, time, and money) in 3rd grade, fractions in 4th grade, and decimals in 5th grade. I think that Rounding is too difficult for 2nd graders. They are still just focusing on internalizing place value.

    But estimating is a perfect activity to keep strengthening math sense and I recommend spending some time on it at the end of 2nd grade!

    If you didn't do Lucky Beans by Becky Birtha as a math story in first grade, you could read it now. Or, read it again and do some estimation activities!

    Blog Post: Multiplication and Estimation with Lucky Beans

    One game I really like is Step to It! Although this game is sadly out of print, you can still find it on eBay. Actually, Gamewright has made the rules available online (PDF) and it's a simple card game you can easily make up yourself. The foot cards have numbers on them. The cards showing items you have to reach (in a certain number of steps, hops, or jumps) are either colors, shapes, letters, or pictures of household objects (for which you could cut out pictures in a magazine). It is a lot of fun and the only estimating card game I know of!

Board Games

More Fun - Math Facts Practice

My blog posts from teaching this topic:

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