# Grade 4: Local Geography & Fractions! (#244)

A Year in the Life: Ambient Math Wins the Race to the Top!
Day 244

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.

Fractions!  The fourth grader’s fractiousness signals a readiness to take on the task of breaking apart.  Until now, wholeness was essential for healthy growth and development.  But the leap into the real world that happens at this age makes it possible to hold strong in the face of all else fracturing.  If the foundation is solid, this stage of the growth process can be met with confidence.

With the Waldorf approach, the elementary grades can be seen as a journey that begins at age 7 with a readiness to learn that’s still enveloped in the magical world of the fairy tale.  Then at 8, the juxtaposition of the fables’ animal antics with the legendary goodness of heroes and saints paves the way for first tentative steps into the world.  Followed by the mixed joy and sadness that accompanies the 9 year old as s/he moves more decisively away from the innocence, joy, and safety of childhood.

Basic survival tools acquired in third grade is a preparation for taking stock of the world close to home, and orienting to that place, wherever it may be.  So along with the fractions’ breaking apart, the fourth grader can find structure and security in mapping home.  Here is an example of a first map drawn in a main lesson book.  This is from waldorftoday.com / Rejoyce InLight, pinned with the caption, “It is not an easy matter to draw a map for the first time. For how can you possibly fit in all the interesting things you see on the way to school!”

And here is a wonderful example of combining fractions with mapping from Catie Johnson’s website, Chalkboard Drawings in the Waldorf Classroom.  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 4 wonders!