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Math Jonesing: Halloween Greek Mythology Lesson

Interdisciplinary Transformation Day: It’s All Greek to Me

Everyone knows students believe - with every fiber of their being - that Halloween should be a school holiday. Just because it’s not, doesn’t mean we didn’t dress up, have a blast (treat,) and cram in a whole lot of learning! (Trick.)

Interdisciplinary instruction is comprised of methods used to teach a concept across different curricular disciplines, and the notion isn’t new. Combining two or more subjects, thus increasing understanding and retention of the material, was first introduced in the 1920’s. The positive educational outcomes for students learning via an integrated curriculum, were extensively reported in 1997.

It doesn’t take a scholarly journal, however, to know that kids learn best when they’re interested in the subject and engaged in the approach.

Cue the Greek tragedy

For this year’s school-wide Halloween transformation day, I teamed up with my friend and fellow teacher, Mr. Wilmer. Together, we taught a lesson rooted in Greek mythology containing both math and social studies assignments.

Based in the myth of Cupid and Psyche, the students – dressed in their finest peplos and chitons – set to solving a series of impossible tasks in the hopes of overcoming the obstacles of forbidden love.

Task 1: Seed Sorting (Classifying Types of Numbers)

Just as Venus had Psyche sort a huge pile of seeds in a single night, the kids got busy classifying the real number system.

Broken into groups, students sorted into cups:

  • Natural Numbers

  • Whole Numbers

  • Integers

  • Rational Numbers

  • Irrational Numbers

Successfully completing the task, (with zero help from the ants) the students moved on to the next assignment.

Task 2: The Golden Fleece (Identifying the States of the Original 13 Colonies or Flags of Different Countries)

Venus next sent Psyche on the hunt for fleece of the Golden Sheep. The student groups earned their golden fleece by correctly identifying states in a booklet, then attaching pieces of fleece to the states of the original 13 colonies, (thankfully not under the threat of disembowelment by livestock.) The eight grade class were required to do something similar. They were asked to correctly identify the country based on the flag and then attach pieces of fleece to the countries that were a part of the middle east.

With the golden fleece collected, it was time to move on to the third and final obstacle standing in the way of immortal love.

Task 3: A Drop of Beauty (Logic Puzzles)

For her final task, Psyche had to travel to the underworld and convince Persephone to put a drop of her beauty in a box for Venus. Though successful, Psyche’s curiosity got the best of her and she opened the box! Instead of beauty, the box was filled with sleep, immediately rendering Psyche unconscious.

The students worked on opening the box

(solving a logic puzzle) and retrieving the

key to the potion, thus waking up Psyche.

Thankfully, the students cracked the code,

revived Psyche (thus making her immortal,)

and she and Cupid lived happily ever after

with their daughter, Pleasure.

The day was a huge success,

and not just for Cupid and Psyche. The students enjoyed the costumes, stories, games, and activities allowing us to teach a lesson in Greek mythology utilizing skills in math and social studies.

Interdisciplinary teaching is an approach proven to aid in the development of cognitive abilities and mental processes, though the kids just think it’s fun!

Remember, this integrated teaching style works with any lesson and any grade level.

Enjoy 😊

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