Math and Storytelling Through the Grades: Grade 3

Creation stories are told in Grade 3, and many examples given of how we humans as a whole have “gotten on” in the world.  As the gate to the garden of childhood begins to close, the joys of newfound independence and self-reliance mix with some sadness around an accompanying loss of innocence.  Hearing stories of how humanity as a whole has surmounted this archetypal loss can lessen these often tumultuous feelings.  It’s reassuring to the 9 year old, as s/he faces the daunting task of growing up, to know that others have succeeded at it, gaining independence and freedom in the process. Time and measurement are helpful tools at this stage , and so are taught in depth now.

Learning about housebuilding, or how people around the world find and create shelter, is a natural companion to these stories.  Gardening and cooking, in the spirit of living independently on the earth, can be brought now as well.  Wonderful stories can accompany all of this, for example before teaching time and measurement, tracing its cultural progression, recapturing it and weaving it into what is taught can be magically effective.  The resonances between cultural and child development are real, and when tapped into and brought to awareness, can be a wonderful teaching tool.

Imagine a story about Brother Sun and Sister Moon dancing around Earth, pulling down Night’s starry velvet curtain, then gently parting it with the rose light of Dawn.  Or a colorful story about how and why the Moon changes her shape.  Storytelling, as always, is the best cloak to wrap around these facts or anecdotes. There’s no need for these stories to be elaborate, in fact the simpler the better.

So, go to the library or online to find the surprising, amusing, and informative facts and then teach them in story form.  For instance, did you know that the king’s foot was the source of our modern 12 inch foot?  Or that our weekdays are named for three heavenly bodies, and various gods and goddesses?  SATURN, the SUN, and MOON for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and the gods TIU, WODEN, THOR, and the goddess FREYA for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

You’ll find lots of interesting information on weights and measures too.  It’s surprising how relatively recently we’ve adopted these standards.  When we lived more simply, before commerce and trade, there was little to no need to measure or weigh anything accurately.  Many peoples or tribes used individual systems of measurement in their local communities.  Barter and trade then demanded that balance scales and weights be used.  Making a balance scale with your child(ren) could be a creative, fun, informative project.  Keep it simple: seeing the essence of things goes a long way toward enthusiasm and understanding!

The first known unit of universal measurement was the Egyptian cubit. Its length was based on the length of the arm and hand, from the elbow to the extended fingertips.  Everyone’s arm measures differently, so in ancient Egypt the Standard Royal Cubit (used to check the accuracy of measuring rods) was made of black granite and preserved at the Royal Court.  A wonderful project to illustrate the length of the cubit is to have your child(ren) make one and take it to a large, open space to measure the length of Noah’s Ark!  (You can find the length in cubits in the Bible.)

So you can see that there’s a wealth of opportunity to mix math and stories in Grade 3!  Find all of the above and much more in the Math By Hand Grade 3 materials, and have a wonderful year while including many, many practical arts and crafts as well.  The list is endless!

Build a garden cart
Plant a “soup and salad” garden
Make a simple churn and then churn butter
Go to a sheep farm at shearing time and gather wool
Wash the wool and use it for felting, or card, spin, and knit it
Find SO many more wonderful things to do with your third grader!

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