# 3.NBT 3: Pebble Math Reinforces Place Value (#199)

A Year in the Life: Ambient Math Wins the Race to the Top!
Day 199

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.

Number and Operations in Base Ten 3.NBT
Use place-value understanding and properties of operations to perform multi-digit arithmetic.
3. Multiply one-digit whole numbers by multiples of 10 in the range 10-90 (e.g., 9 x 80, 5 x 60) using strategies based on place value and properties of operations.

Be playful with this.  Play and math go together like strawberries and cream, soap and water, or _______________ and _____________ (favorite pairs of your choice).  Einstein himself said so!  So be playful.  Here’s an example, a page taken from the Math By Hand Grade 2 Fables and Tables booklet.  But first the fable!

The Crow and the Pitcher

A Crow perishing with thirst saw a pitcher, and hoping to find water, flew to it with delight. When he reached it, he discovered to his grief that it contained so little water that he could not possibly get at it. He tried everything he could think of to reach the water, but all his efforts were in vain. At last he collected as many stones as he could carry and dropped them one by one with his beak into the pitcher, until he brought the water within his reach and thus saved his life.
Necessity is the mother of invention.

The idea here is that the crow started with 12 stones and when he found they weren’t nearly enough to raise the water level to where he needed it to be, he collected many more stones until he had 120, and then was finally able to drink.  The activity, which teaches/reviews the 10 times table, goes like this:

Using large index cards, or 1/2 sheets of construction or computer paper and a crayon, write the numbers 1-12.  Place them in a column on the floor, and have the child(ren) place a stone next to each number, thus changing the 1’s to 10’s.  Mention that Crow started out with only 12 pebbles, but saw they weren’t nearly enough to bring the water level up.  Then, through diligence and hard work, he was able to collect 120 pebbles, which brought the water within reach!  Finish the lesson with a drawing, as always.

Use this idea for today’s standard by writing the examples listed in it vertically.  Multiply them, then place the stones to the right of the 8, 6, 72, and 30.  This will convey the place values by changing the 8 to 80, the 6 to 60, the 72 to 720, and the 30 to 300.  The stones, like many other props (preferably taken from nature), make it real and save the day: away from boring pencil and paper or computer screen drill.  Keep it real and interesting, always.

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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