summer art/math

# Making Game Cards with Kindergarteners

5 year-olds in the summertime could use a bit of number play. Get them invested, make it a game, get them coming back for more.

Kent Haines wrote about a card game that he played with his daughter using a deck of cards. No point in spending two bucks on a deck of cards when there’s twenty 5 year-olds looking for something to do, right? We started out making our own deck by coloring in numbers 1 – 10. Of course I couldn’t find the perfect typeface so I made one I liked.

We did the coloring as sort of side project to other activities, so a took a few sessions to color enough for forty cards, which was my goal. Full disclosure: I probably did about 10 of them myself.

Next, kids put the “right” number of plant items with the numerals. I photographed them, then put them through my graphic program.

I printed and cut out the cards at home, then we played!

My rules for the game were a bit different than Kent’s, though we both start our games with laying out ten cards (two rows of five each), and the ultimate goals of our games are the same, which, as Kent points out, is to give children practice with counting, cardinality and comparing numbers.

In my version of the game I make sure that all ten numbers are in front of the child, but hidden, and in scrambled order. A random card gets turned over then it’s up to the child to determine where it goes in the number line up. The card that’s now bumped out of its own starting place gets turned over and the child decides where it needs to go, and so on.  If it turns out that two cards just switch places so that there is now no new card looking for a new place, the child can turn over a random card. This sounds confusing until you play, then it makes perfect sense.

There is no winning or losing, just finishing. Sometimes the kids played in pairs, some were slow and thoughtful, some were super fast, but they all loved the game. YAY! And they recognized the cards that they had in hand in making, and loved this connection. Too much fun.

Since we are moving the cards around I’m calling this version of Kent’s game “Recycle.” So PC.

Here’s a couple of video clips:

and

Here’s the a PDF of deck of recycle cards 2 types that we made, that you can print out to use or to use to make your own.

# Hexaflexagons in the Summertime

This past Wednesday was my third three-hour meeting with a group of teenagers I am doing projects with this summer. I’m getting to know these young people a bit more, which is the best part of what I do.

It means a lot to me to be able bring projects to them which they enjoy, that are dynamic, and that might teach them something new. I missed writing about last week’s project…oh well.

I’ve been planning three things per week. My thought is to start with with something really short but really cool. This week I started with this amazing puzzle I saw on a post by Mike Lawler :

What you’ll see if you watch this video is a square piece of paper that has a square cut out of the center which a CD must fit through. It looks impossible. It’s quite mind blowing. Take a look.

The main event the afternoon was making hexaflexagons, which I’ve written about numerous times. Basically, they are a tricky foldable structure that, as they flex, transforms the patterns that are applied on them.

For instance,

these are two views of the same sides of the a flexagon. The way that the paper folds rotates the sides to create an illusion that you are looking at something entirely different.

It was great fun to watch these teens discover the different transformations of their designs.

These cats were a surprise. Mostly people were doing purely geometric designs. I had no idea how these cat motifs would work out. Just loved how they paired up!

The fellow that did this one, with the black square and the blue and red circles within, has surprised me during each class. He leaves me wondering if he’s going to participate at all and then I look over after awhile and see that he’s done something stunning.

We made the flexagons using a template I created. What is needed is a paper strip which folds into 10 equilateral triangles, so this template I made can be used to make four separate hexagon-flexagons.

For some reason I kept messing up showing the group how to fold. One of the older teenagers, who’s position is counselor, really understood the folding well, so I took a video of her explaining how it goes:

If you still haven’t seen enough, well, I took just a couple more fun photos of the work of this talented group.

So cool!

There was one last project we did during the last half hour together. It was doing some origami, but I had them each cut out a separate rectangular piece of paper. Each rectangle was a different size but proportionally the same. I have a thing about scaling: I want all kids to know how to do it.

After the paper was cut, I walked them through the steps of making an origami toy boat, not because I wanted a toy boat, but because I wanted to stack the different sizes and see what happened. Each person had a different size paper

This is what happened.

It stands on it’s own, and looks kind of like a ziggurat , or maybe it looks like a big hat.

I think we decided it looked like a hat.

After having spent most of the afternoon making flexagons with this group I came home and checked my twitter feed. Coincidentally, seems that my friends had been all atwitter about flexagons, starting with this from Vincent: https://twitter.com/panlepan/status/835988773875892224

Within the thread was a link to Dave Richeson’s template and instructions for what he calls a Cube Tri-Hexaflexagon, but it’s what I’ve been calling the hexaflexagon.  I made one of these immediately. It’s a great template.

Ok. It’s nearly time to start planning my next project with this group. Looking forward to it!

summer art/math

# Cards, Compasses and Lights with Teenagers, Summer 2019

Yesterday was my first of six weekly meetings with rising eighth graders and their two college-sophomore camp counselors. This is not an age group that I’ve worked with extensively, so I’m challenged to try to come up with projects that I hope they find compelling. These teenagers are doing art projects with dynamic teaching artists arts on other days of the week, as well as doing nature activities. This program here in Salem NY is invested in giving these young people a great summer experience.

Turns out that nearly all these kids like math. I wasn’t expecting this! But maybe it explains how quickly they took to this week’s project.

We started out by making a number of patterns in different ways, Then I broke out the compasses. It didn’t surprise me that they didn’t have experience with them, and that they were awkward with the tool at first, but what did surprise me was how quickly they picked up the skill of making circles with the compasses. I definitely didn’t rush through the process of letting them find their own rhythm with the compass, but, still, it was impressive how they worked through the unfamiliarity.

They lost no time creating patterns.

There was a hush over the room as they worked on responding to their designs with color.

When they were finished with the coloring, many immediately started creating a second piece.

They knew, though, that I’d be asking them to punch a hole in the center of their design to wire their art for light!

I’ve been wanting to do a lighting project for a long time! This was such the perfect group to do it with.

Here’s a video explaining the process, of wiring a card for light, which I got from Julia Ross, a former co-worker of mine at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. (Thanks Julia!)

I wondered if anyone would object to punching a hole through the center of their art work. Yeah, a couple of them didn’t want to do this, I encouraged that they make a separate card, doing some simple rotations, then add a light to that, just to have the experience of it.

Only one person chose to spend the whole time working on the design, and not do any lighting. The fact that he created this unusual, thoughtful and stunning piece made it unthinkable for me to challenge his decision.

So now I have a sense of these young people. I’ll be trying to design projects that are for kids who are open, competent, artistic and mathematical.

This should be interesting!!!

summer art/math

# Counting & Arranging, with 5 year-olds

I’m writing about two separate projects here that seems to have nothing to do with each other, but there was something about doing them, one right after the other, that worked so well that this is how I am going to be writing about them.

The first project is a structured bookish making project that references counting and the composition of numbers.

The second project is one I’ve written about before,, is recomposing natural materials to make images that look like people.

The first project is not a creative activity for the kids, rather it’s more about discovery, trying to get them used to the idea that the number 10 can be seen as a composition of smaller numbers. The second project, using flower petals, leaves and other natural materials, has loads of room for improvising. There was something about following the structured project with the unstructured project that really worked for these kids.

The counting project is simple to assemble, Everything is printed on a heavy copy paper. The piece with the words on it is folded into a simple pocket. I did the folds for the pocket (which is just folding up an edge on the line, and then folding in half to so it becomes a folder), punched two holes near the top, and tied a piece of yarn to one of the holes.

Here are the pdfs if you want to make this with a group of your own:

five plus five

four plus six

seven plus three

eight plus two

NIne plus one

and here’s a pdf of all of the above in a single document, which will be trickier, but possible, to use if you want to use a variety of colors Bead counting all pages together

Here what it looks like assembled.

So, ten beads. Cards go in pockets, Kids separate the beads according to the card below it, then…

…they remove the card and compare the beads on the card to their own beads.  This card then gets put in the side pocket and the next card shows…

…and the activity is repeated.

I was floored by how much the kids liked doing every bit of this activity. They took it so seriously, counting the beads and checking, and doing it for all the cards. It was lovely.

No question, kids love using beads.

Not going to say too much about these, other than OMG. Loved how these turned out.

I photograph these, then remove the backgrounds.

Just today I finished taking away the backgrounds. Am making prints to give to the kids.

I just love this project. Kids worked very seriously on their creations.

I had plenty of materials to work with because I had put out a request on Facebook for people in my community to drop off flowers to our classroom in the morning. Tons of stuff showed up: it was awesome.

So much variety!

Looking forward to doing this again next summer.