This is the first in a series of sporadic blog posts about items I have in my keepsake box. If you think I’m not sentimental, this should prove otherwise.

In third grade, we did a unit on the human skeleton. At the beginning of the unit our teacher, Mrs. Van Putten, had us draw and label the skeleton – so we could compare it to what we learned later. Here’s my charming drawing.

Including: brain skull, skull, elbow, ribs, finger bones, toe bones, and leg bones.

Including: brain skull, skull, elbow, ribs, finger bones, toe bones, and leg bones.

Thankfully, I also kept the end-of-unit drawing, for at least some slight redemption. I swear I am not an idiot, regardless of what the previous drawing might indicate. Proof that I learned something, at one point in my life:

Including: brain case, eye socket, humerus, rib cage, radius, ulna, carples, metacarples, vertebrae (or something like that), tibia, fibula, ankle bones, and metatarsles.

Including: brain case, eye socket, humerus, rib cage, radius, ulna, carples, metacarples, vertebrae (or something like that), tibia, fibula, ankle bones, and metatarsles.

Forgive my 8-year-old spelling. I did go on to become a pretty great speller. More or less.

I don’t actually remember the skeleton unit from third grade. I do remember the Native American unit, which I’m fairly certain we called the Indian unit. We all had Indian names – if I looked through all my papers, I might be able to find mine – and Renee and I (and another classmate, I can’t remember who – maybe Ashley Mitchell?) made an Indian hideout under the class steps. We went on a field trip where we learned how to grind acorns, and afterward we used broken bits of concrete under the class steps as rocks to grind grass and leaves. Or something like that. My memory is getting a little rusty at this point. Any help, Renee?

One of my other distinct memories from third grade is meeting a girl who was as small as I was – Samantha Herrera. Because I was in a special program for Extra Smart People (it’s my blog, so let me brag), most of my classmates didn’t live nearby; Samantha lived in Lawler Ranch, which I’ve never visited as an adult, so I can’t really say how far away it was. But it was far enough away that I always had to be driven to her house. Samantha was best friends with Soleil, who I now realize got her French name via her Vietnamese mother. But at age 8, I didn’t know anything about world history.

The last thing I’ll share is that I loved math until third grade. Because I entered GATE (the awesome thing I got to do for being an Extra Smart Person) in third grade, I went from second-grade math – which I loved – to fourth-grade math and had a LOT of trouble with it. I remember struggling with multiplying two 2-digit numbers. The jelly-bean explanation confused me. A few of the other students were so good at math that they went up to the fourth grade GATE class for math, which really put them at a fifth-grade level. I think they were mostly boys (Brad Handel, Andrew Gemmer, Jason-whose-last-name-I’ve-forgotten. Counihan?), and I felt like maybe that meant something. But by fifth grade I was in the advanced math group, and most of us were girls. So I guess it was just chance.

What do you remember from third grade?


12 Comments on “Keepsakes”

  1. Sposita says:

    I had to do 3rd grade twice! Mostly because I had skipped Kinder and when I got put in GATE you had to go back to the grade you were “supposed” to be in. Normal 3rd grade I remember reading Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle in class and going to school on the air force base because Oakbrook wasn’t ready yet (and the test to get into GATE). GATE 3rd grade I remember Mrs. VP and the Native American Indian fieldtrip to the Sonoma Mission and feeling conflicted about participating in the “illicit” Indian gambling game in my bed sheet “mission clothes.” I don’t remember the skeleton unit!

    • Mika says:

      I love the inner turmoil of a third-grader! I remember a few of the kids were really good at the gambling game, but I don’t think I participated.

  2. Jarom says:

    In our elementary school, we had this whole Native American bit where we had tribes and were supposed to keep a journal about our coming of age quest. I think we called it our “spirit journey.” We made feather headdresses, did the whole yelling with your hand flapping on your mouth and made arrows out of cattails and play-dough. Even in third grade, I remember thinking that it was at worst (at least) mildly racist, and at best a little insensitive. I think I used that as my justification to refuse to do most of the projects.

    I use this story to illustrate two things: 1) I was apparently very opinionated as a child, 2) I was obviously not in the Extra Smart Person program.

    • Sposita says:

      I think that your story shows 1) that you thought like a lawyer even back then and 2) that if you were thinking like that in 3rd grade you SHOULD have been in the Extra Smart Person program! :)

      • Mika says:

        Jarom will never stop thinking like a lawyer. It makes disagreements hard (for me). Thankfully, he’s been smart enough to not make objections to what I say, though he has joked about it.

    • Mika says:

      I wish we’d made arrows. Your unit sounds cooler than mine. Also, zero percent surprised that you refused to do projects. Seriously though, why would you NOT want to make playdough arrows?

  3. Julia says:

    I remember my teacher drank coffee and her class always smelled like brewing coffee. I remember doing timed exams to show we had mastered multiplication facts. I remember if you finished work early you could do a math worksheet that the answers resulted in a color by numbers picture and when you finished one, you could get a Jolly Rancher and I would always pick watermelon flavored. I remember at Christmas time we got to bring in Cultural foods from our backrounds. I brought in Swedish Tea Rings and I had Latkes from my Jewish friends, all sorts of cool Chinese, Korean and Vietmanese food. I loved my teacher Mrs. Kay and invited her to come to the San Diego Temple dedication that happened that year. I still have the note she sent me in response to my letter to her.

    • Mika says:

      Did she end up going to the open house? I’m glad you kept the note! And I loved that teachers gave out lots of little tickets and treats for doing good work. (Hmm, this may be an answer to my parenting troubles with Evan.)

  4. Renee Weed says:

    I am pretty sure you are right about the fact that we called in “indians” and not “Native Americans.” Strange.
    We did play “Indians” under the stairs, grinding a pretty good dent in the blacktop. Do you remember how they went on to eventually put up a grate so we couldn’t play under there anymore? I think we were over the whole thing by then anyway. I can’t remember who else played either. I think it may have been Cassidy. When we first started the Indians unit Ms. VP set up a little tent or something, dimmed the lights, and was burning incense I’m pretty sure. I remember thinking it was something bad (drugs maybe?) and that I shouldn’t be there.
    I too have forgotten the skeleton unit and all that I may have learned with it.
    I do remember we learned a Spanish song to sing on the mission field trip. I still know it. And the Coffee song that I think Ms.VP taught us also. Fun.
    Also random confession: You had a pink cast in third grade and I was so jealous. I wanted to break my arm too just so I could have a pink cast… because that would be worth it. Crazy third grade mind.

    • Mika says:

      My ballet teacher was furious that I not only broke my arm but got a pink cast. She told me I couldn’t do Nutcracker like that. But I was just in big red footie pajamas with a Santa hat anyway… I’ve only broken a toe since then, so I don’t remember how much it hurts to break a bone. But I think probably not worth a pink cast.

      I remember the coffee song, too! But I’ve forgotten the Spanish song. How does it go?

  5. reneecgirl says:

    Also, I had a really hard time skipping the third grade math book too. No one ever believes me when I tell them we did that. I cried during my parent teacher conference because MS. VP told my mom I was having trouble with my multiplication.

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