## Fancy Plane Shapes

### April 30, 2017

Second Graders are learning their shapes. What a great age to be composing, decomposing and recomposing.

Bird on the left, hexagon & rectangle on the right

These images are the final part of the Wallet-Book project that I began with about 66 students earlier this week. After making images that had a value of 100 we moved on to getting up-close and intimate with parallelograms and trapezoids.

Students got strips of these parallelograms, which I had printed on five different colored papers. We looked at the parallelograms and noticed that they were made of two triangles. After separating a triangle, we fit next to a full parallelogram, to see how the two shapes, together, could make a trapezoid.

Triangle plus parallelogram makes a trapezoid

The kids seemed delighted by this discovery. While most students illustrated this connection with three different images…

Three shapes on one

…there was one student who took an elegant approach, which was to make just one shape, then label the way it could be broken down into its parts.

Hexagon, rectangles and star

Next we moved on to hexagons, rectangles, then, finally, a shape of their own choosing. The kids loved noticing how three parallelograms not only are the parts of a hexagon, but also, that their hexagon has the appearance of a cube drawn in perspective. The toughest shape for the students to make was the rectangle, as this meant that they had to divide a triangle in half, the rotate and reflect the pieces. Not so easy. Try it.

Designing

After making the compulsory curriculum shapes the kids went free-form, designing their own creations. My seventy minutes time slot with each class of 22 students just flew by!

Whale on the water, spouting

Some students made abstractions with the shapes, others created scenes or something recognizable.

Playing with shapes

Since this was the first time I was doing this project in the classroom, and since I had three classes to work with, I kept changing how I presented the project, getting a better feel each time for better ways to get the kids to interact with the shapes within the time frame I had with them, and within the agenda that needed to be addressed. For each class, though, I kept the curriculum piece at the beginning of my time with the students, ending the class the creative part. I think I’d like to see what happens if I flip that order of working, as perhaps it will let students discover on their own things that I actively try to get them to see.

Pieces in pockets of Wallet-Book

When we finished, any extra parallelograms were stored in the origami pocket we had made during out last session, looped a humongous rubber band into a hole punched into the front flap, created and ID card for the front, and added some bling, because, well, bling.

wallet-books

The Wallet-folders, by the way, are made from heavy weight 11″ x 17″ paper that has a four-inch fold along the bottom edge, which creates the pockets. There are two 7-inch wide pockets within, and a 3-inch fold-over flap. If you are wondering where I got this awesome paper that is tinted with black, blue, and silver, with a light cast of gold above, well, thank you for wondering. I spray painted the papers (outside, of course, with a mask on) so I could have exactly what I wanted. Yeah, a bit crazy, but that’s what I do.

### 9 Responses to “Fancy Plane Shapes”

1. Great idea. I teach kids paper crafts and this looks like a project they might love. Beryl

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2. goldenoj Says:

Love this. That paper is a great idea – make your own pattern blocks, in a sense. And the texture invites composition, especially compared with isometric paper. What effect do you think making the books of their work has on the work?

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• There’s no question that making the folder and calling it a wallet captured their attention. These classes that I work with have precious little time being able to be creative (though I have to say that they really try to fit in fun things with their students) so , really, just having the opportunity to interact with these colorful materials animates the students’ involvement. Where I think that the biggest impact of it being a “book” happens is when the project is over: they tend to keep their books, revisit them, value them, and remember them.

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3. Daria Wilber Says:

I love this Paula! What a great teaching tool. Froebel, book arts, math, geometry, art all rolled into one neat package.

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• Funny you should mention Froebel. I’ve just started reading things, here and there, about his work. Wondering how you see this as Froebel. Would love to know, as my knowledge of his work is rather shallow.

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4. sonyapost Says:

It’s nice to see this project in full. I am going to hold onto this idea. I am teaching a math co-op for 4-6th grade this fall. They aren’t learning their shapes, but I enjoyed playing around with these when I did it with P. And i like the storage in the books.

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• There was something about just calling a structure a wallet-book that I think is really appealing to any of the grades. Content can be altered to fit all sorts of curriculum. I bet you could come up with some great variations.

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