3.MD 5 a) b): Too Soon for Area Measurement? Yes. (#207)


A Year in the Life: Ambient Math Wins the Race to the Top!
Day 207

For one year, 365 days, this blog will address the Common Core Standards from the perspective of creating an alternate, ambient learning environment for math. Ambient is defined as “existing or present on all sides, an all-encompassing atmosphere.”

And ambient music is defined as: “Quiet and relaxing with melodies that repeat many times. Why ambient? A math teaching style that’s whole and all encompassing, with themes that repeat many times through the years, is most likely to be effective and successful. CCSS math standards are listed here in blue, followed by ambient math suggestions.

Measurement and Data 3.MD
Geometric measurement: understand concepts of area and relate area to multiplication and addition.
5. Recognize area as an attribute of plane figures and understand concepts of area measurement.
a) A square with side length 1 unit, called “a unit square,” is said to have “one square unit” of area, and can be used to measure area.
b) A plane figure which can be covered without gaps or overlaps by n unit squares is said to have an area of n square units.

I remember struggling with my daughter as we wrestled with the area and perimeter problems in the Grade 6 Saxon math textbook.  We sat in the kitchen every night attempting to master area and perimeter, using the foot square floor tiles as prompts.  It was a mighty struggle for her at age 12.  Granted, her strengths lie in the history/literature rather than the math/science camp but still, the struggle was real.

If the CC sees merit in pushing academics down to lower and lower grades in the name of “rigor” so be it.  But as an advocate for the voice of reason and patience I say, “Wait.  Just wait.”  Isn’t mastering all the times tables, long division and multiplication, while honing skills in the 4 processes enough?  Along with basic measurement skills, yes.

This may be enough for the 9 year old who is experiencing the pangs and loss of childish innocence as an inevitable facet of growing up, but the Common Core’s way of teaching and learning does not take into account that real sustenance is needed to weather not only this storm but all of the many storms that are each experienced deeply at the different ages and stages for every child.

A first glimpse into area and perimeter may be experienced with the building projects taken on this year.  Back to the chicken coop.  How much floor space is needed for each chicken?  And how is that figured out?  If each chicken needs 4 square feet of coop space (I just googled it, it does), how large does the coop need to be to accommodate 5 hens?  There you go, area and multiplication.  But concretely and with LOTS of adult help and support.  Gotta love this hobbit coop by inhabitat.com!


Knowledge ensues in an environment dedicated to imaginative, creative knowing, where student and teacher alike surrender to the ensuing of knowledge as a worthy goal. Tune in tomorrow for more Grade 3 math CCSS and their ambient counterparts.


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