Cookin’ with Math: Stone Soup! (#21)

A Year in the Life: Ambient Math Wins the Race to the Top!
Day 21

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. Today’s blog will focus on the wonderful folktale, “Stone Soup.”

Well, here I sit having wanted to wrap Kindergarten up in a sort of “index” or “contents” blog, as a summary of the ambient alternatives to the Common Core, and where to fit them in a day devoted primarily to play!  I printed out all of the blogs to date and have been poring through them, trying to sum it all up in a nutshell, to make it accessible for you the reader to put to practical use.

I’m finding that it’s a bigger chunk than I imagined, and will begin it tomorrow, devoting 3-4 blogs to it.  Seems there aren’t enough hours in my day of late!  I’m treating you instead to a lovely version of “Stone Soup,” adapted from a Swedish folktale and from Marcia Brown’s retelling in her book “Stone Soup.”  Enjoy reading it, then tell it along with the activity suggested on Day 13 of this blog.


There once was a traveler who came to a small village, tired and weary from his long journey.  The traveler did not have anything to eat and hoped that a friendly villager would be able to feed him.  He came to the first house and knocked on the door.  He asked the woman who answered if she could spare just a small bit of food as he had traveled a long journey and was very hungry.  The woman replied, “I’m sorry I have nothing to give you. I can barely feed my own family.” So the traveler went to another door and asked again.  The answer was the same: “I have nothing to give you.”  He went from door to door and each time was turned away. Undaunted, the traveler went to the village square, took a small tin cooking pot from his bag, filled it with water, started a fire and dropped a stone in the pot.  As he boiled the water, a passing villager stopped and asked him what he was doing.  The traveler replied, “I’m making stone soup. Would you like to join me?”  The villager said yes, and he asked if carrots were good in stone soup.  “Sure,” said the traveler. The villager went home and returned with carrots from his garden to add to the boiling water. Soon, another curious villager came by and was invited to join them.  She went home and returned with some potatoes.  A young boy passed by and soon joined the group, bringing his mother and dinner plates from their home. In time, a crowd gathered with everyone offering their own favorite ingredient: mushrooms, onions, salt, black pepper, acorn, squash.  Everyone wanted to be part of the creation.  Finally, the traveler removed the stone and declared, “The stone soup is ready!”  And the whole community joined in a feast where there was none before.

Knowledge ensues in an environment dedicated to imaginative, creative knowing, where student and teacher alike surrender to the ensuing of that knowledge as a worthy goal.  More Kindergarten tomorrow!

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