A Day in D.C.

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SWBAT solve problems related to route finding, elapsed time, and the four operations.

Big Idea

Planning out a trip, and exciting places to visit, involves third grade math!


8 minutes

I tell students, "Today we're going to plan out a visit to Washington, D.C.  We'll pretend that you are going there with your (family) for a day and you want to see as much as possible! Your (dad) doesn't want to rent a car, so you'll be taking the Metro everywhere.  Luckily, you learned how to use a subway system yesterday!  So, what you'll need to do when you plan out your day is add in the time it takes to get to a certain activity/place plus the time you want to spend there.  Here are a few examples of places you might want on A Day in D.C.!

Mini Lesson

15 minutes

I model part one of an example of today's activity and then stop and reteach or clarify, if needed.  Then I show them part two and what their final schedule might look like in part three.mp4.  The Metro Map (color) (or Metro Map (black and white) isn't necessary but it adds a dimension to the lesson.  If the students want to do this in real time, they can look up when the next train arrives at a given station in Washington, D.C.

Active Engagement

30 minutes

Here are the directions to this activity, which you can project prior to passing out the activity pages to students.

Directions for “A Day in D.C.”


  • Everyone starts from Silver Spring, MD.
  • Pick the first place you would like to visit.
  • Go to the Metro Trip Planner (or use the charts) and find the estimated trip time.
  • Enter your starting point (Silver Springs), your 1st destination, and your estimated travel time.
  • Start your day at 8 a.m. and record what time it will be when you arrive at your destination.  For an extra challenge, start at 8:17 a.m.
  • Record the name of your destination, how long you will spend there, and the start and end time of your visit.
  • You will then repeat this process for your next destination, with the starting location being the Metro stop you got off at for this attraction.


I think the engagement in this lesson is higher when students are able to use the trip planner themselves to get the travel time from one station or another, but it is not always possible to go online.  If your students need to do this without using computers, here is a list of stations and times that they can use to complete this activity. This is a list of possible places to visit that indicates the nearby Metro stops.


6 minutes

At the conclusion of this activity, I ask students to think about their own personal relationship with time.  I know, it sounds funny, but what I mean is this:  Are they by nature punctual or do they treat time in a more fluid manner?  I give them two examples:  If my mom says she wants to leave the house at 8:20, she has her shoes on and is ready to go out the door at 8:19.  I have a good friend who is the opposite.  She might say, "Let's leave in 10 minutes," only to let an hour pass.


They think about how they perceive time and then I ask them how their personal view on time might influence the flow of a day such as the one they planned in D.C.  Will it take them more or less time to do the things they planned?  Do they think they'd stay on schedule?