Grade 3: OR, When/If Decoding/Phonics IS Needed/Wanted (#232)


A Year in the Life: Ambient Math Wins the Race to the Top!
Day 232

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.

Re our last post (#231), a partial redo.  Not to have implied that the mechanics of reading does not warrant or deserve attention.  It does.  And late Grade 2 / Grade 3 is a good time to start.  A playful/artful approach is preferable however.  Just as the 4 Processes were characterized and personalized, the mechanics of reading and writing can (and should) be.

For example, the eight major parts of speech could also be given colors and personalities.  Verbs could be red since they’re so active or choleric.  Or adjectives might be yellow and sanguine, since there are so many, and they are quite gushy!  Figurative stories along with drawings and examples of words dressed up in their respective colors make these concepts more approachable and doable.

Here’s a funny poem about the inconsistencies of the English language:

We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes.
Then one fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese,
You may find a lone mouse or a whole nest of mice,
But the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?
The cow in the plural may be cows or kine,
But a bow if repeated is never called bine,
And the plural of vow is vows, never vine.
If I speak of a foot and you show me your feet,
And I give you a boot would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth, and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?
If the singular’s this and the plural is these,
Should the plural of kiss ever be nicknamed keese?
Then one may be that and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother, and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren,
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine she, shis and shim,
So the English, I think, you all will agree,
Is the queerest language you ever did see.

To keep all of these variances straight, hands-on memory aids could be made with the help of the children, and stored in bins or baskets for skills practice time.  Here’s a good example, used for practicing plurals. from the blog 5th Grade Rocks, 5th Grade Rules.


When teaching in blocks, it’s a good idea to alternate math and language arts skills practices after the main lesson.  Start with 20 minutes of lively morning circle activities, settle down into the main lesson for an hour and a half, have snack and outdoor recess, then come back to 20 minutes to a half hour of skills practice.  This could be pencil-and-paper, hands-on using manipulatives, or interactive (games, spelling bees, math with movement, etc.)

So do include the basics!  But do liven them up with movement, visuals, and whimsy. In closing, here is an excellent blog post from Sarah Baldwin’s Moon Child, Myth Busting: How Reading is Taught in a Waldorf School.  And here from the same blog post is “M” for Mountain, can’t you just hear the busy gnomes mining the sparkling jewels and gold inside it?

chalk mounatin-JPEG

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 as we continue to explore ambient counterparts to the CCSS language arts standards.


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