Math Monday::Shape Safari

Last Math Monday I talked about finding square numbers and square roots with older kids (8 and up). While they were doing that with Sonja, I hung out with the younger kids and we did some shape explorations of our own!

First, we used Learning Resources Classpack Tangrams
to construct our own ‘mosaics’ (and yes, we do have the classpack because we like to make epic big tanagram shapes, but if you want a smaller set try these: Tanagrams

shape exploration

while working with our hands like this, we had an open discussion about shapes. What different shapes were called, and if you can take one shape to make another shape. They quickly saw that 2 triangles can be used to make a square. They patterned out some pretty cool designs, and worked together to share the colors (yellow was particularly popular) and shapes.

When they got tired of using the tanagram shapes I asked them if they’d ever heard of a safari before. One of the boys said he had, and that it was when you looked around for different animals. I said we were going to go on a safari, but instead of animals we were going to look for shapes. To ‘capture’ the shape, we had little cameras for them to ‘shoot’ when they found a shape they knew. One of the other moms there had a small camera, too, so everyone was able to have or share their own camera.

Before starting, one of the boys said it wouldn’t work, because there were no shapes to find ‘in the world’. We said, “well, we’ll be on the lookout, and if we don’t find any then we’ll come back here to play again.”

He took two steps before noticing the windows were square. *Snap!* His first capture! Doors are rectangles! *Snap!* The office doors had lots of square windows…in fact, they stopped to count them and found 16 squares in one door alone! *Snap!* The more shapes they found the more excited they became. “There are shapes EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!” was heard over and over. They turned into little mathmatical papparazzi:


They spent about 45 minutes walking from room to room, taking pictures of all the shapes they found:

Shape Safari

Then, we took a break to eat the yummy square food.

Taking the pictures really opened up a whole world of shapes, literally, that they hadn’t noticed before.

This is something that can be applied to all levels of math quite easily. For instance, in this one picture I took of the Brooklyn Bridge, there are an amazing amount of mathmatical principles for older kids to notice:


Symmetry, parallel lines, trapezoids, perspective, vanishing point, line segments, intersecting lines, obtuse and acute angles…etc.

In fact, I can’t think of a better way for right brain kids or out of the box thinkers to grasp mathmatical concepts than by having them go out and take pictures of them.