Math Monday: Paper Plate Math

I’ve been looking forward to blogging this for a while…but then fun and sun got in the way and my brain turned the switch to vacation mode and I’ve been slacking a little bit here!

A few weeks before we left for California, I came across a website called “Wholemovement: an exploration into the movement of wholeness.” According to Bradford Hanson-Smith, the founder of Wholemovement, wholeness is symbolized in the folding of a circle. Specifically, paper plates!

The purpose of this site is to promote the importance of folding circles. The circle is the most experiential, comprehensive, hands-on, educational tool we have, and yet most people do not know this. Every child in school should be folding as often as they draw pictures of circles, and discuss the information that is generated in the folding. You cannot anticipate what the circle will generate from a drawing. Folding circles is accessible to any person that can fold a circle in half, regardless of age or grade level (see How To Fold section). Paper circles are inexpensive and readily available worldwide in the form of paper plates.

He explains Wholemovement like this:

“Wholemovement is self-referencing; the movement of the Whole to itself. Wholemovement is an inclusive concept.

We have been off this planet measuring things on the moon. We are now measuring universes that 10 years ago we did not know even existed. While the geometry of patterns of movement and relationships do not appear to change, our experience and understanding of the forms of geometries and mechanical workings of our universe does change. Yet we have made the meaning static by continuing to define geometry as it was understood twenty-five hundred years ago. It is important to update words to reflect our experiential level of understanding; otherwise we disconnect, limiting what is fully available to us.”

The kids and I are way into sacred geometry and very alternate ways of doing math, but even I found myself asking, “But why circles, Bradford? Why paper plates?” So luckily he has an entire page devoted to the ‘why?’. For starters, “because it is good for your hands and eyes, your mind, your imagination, and the well being of your spirit.”

Well OK then! That was enough to get me to try it out. He has a section of free instructions to make basic shapes with simple folds of paper plates that we used as reference. Then we looked at his paper plate folding gallery, and it blew us away. We had so much fun folding paper plates, we decided to share it with the Math Club.

First, I showed them the basic fold, which is just fold the paper plate in half! and then in thirds, and then in fourths.


Then we kept coloring, folding, coloring, folding. The website explains it better. Go check it out. But once you have enough paper plates folded, you can start putting them together with bobby pins.




On that day, we made spheres from the paper plates. We discovered there are lots of things you can do with spheres like this. Create mobiles, use it as a ball, and it makes a lovely snack tray.


This has been a lot of fun for us, it makes for a fun activity on a slow summer day.

I highly recommend checking out the Wholemovement website, especially the FAQ page, to read more about it. Especially ESPECIALLY if you have a kid who hates math or is a highly creative, divergent thinker. πŸ™‚


9 Responses

  1. Oooh, and I just so happen to have a pile of cheap paper plates in the craft cupboard!!

  2. THis is great! Gotta get some paper plates :0)

  3. LOVE it! πŸ˜€ Makes me think of spherical geometry, which I didn’t meet until the end of undergraduate work. What a fun way to play with some shapes!

    • I never met spherical geometry, lol. Until now, I guess. We loved this so much, we bought some of his books. πŸ™‚

  4. Oh, that looks like a fun project. Very cool!

  5. this kind of math is right up my ally! thanks for the links – i’ll definitely be buying a stack of paper plates for our next math club!

  6. A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.

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