Curriculum Spotlight: Third Grade Measurement Block
In third grade, the child begins to develop a basic awareness for practical applications of mathematics. Measurement of all types is covered: length, weight, volume, money, and time. All of these measurement systems are put to use in practical activities by the children themselves. In the study of time, money, and measurement, the historical background of the methods, tools, and practices is taught imaginatively before modern methods are explained. (Alliance for Public Waldorf Education)
The timeline Ms. Dilda’s students’ work with weight has gone from simple comparison of weight on a seesaw log/board scale (Ms. Dilda weigh as much as three students), to equaling more precise weights on a hanging scale (a pinecone = a crayon, half an eraser, and a paperclip), to actually measuring weight by comparing an object with a “standard” of known value (a beanbag = 33 pennies), to converting the known value to an abstract label (11 pennies = 1 oz, so a beanbag weighs 3 oz.).
The class will progress to using mechanical scales and converting between basic measures of weight. This in many ways mirrors the historical development of the measurement of weight, as well as creating a tactile experience of weight before bringing the abstract representation of it through number and label. By bringing the experience first, Ms. Dilda’s hope is that students will be able to read, for example, that as adults they are supposed to drink 64 oz. of water every day and it will be more than just an idea, but a feeling and visual of approximately how much that actually is.
Students will see these topics built upon in all of the sciences throughout the grades: in physics when studying the lever and its mathematical relationship to weight, in chemistry when converting between units, and in any discipline that requires the use of tools to take and record observations. – Bethany Dilda, third grade classroom teacher