Each morning I welcome children by inviting them to select from a basket of "math" books. I like this opener as it makes for some relaxing conversation as we wait for children to arrive. I've found that books with short segments are ideal; kids can pick up a book and exclaim over some fact or be amazed at a few photographs without having to read an entire story in what might be a very short sitting. Several books my students are currently enjoying:
A Closer Look--This book shows an object at close proximity, gradually showing it at a greater and greater distance, allowing students to try to guess what they are seeing.
The Amazing Book of Shapes--all kinds of shapes and patterns are shown in full-color photographs with ideas for constructing.
Incredible Comparisons--The boys reach for this one every week! It compares biggest, smallest, fastest, slowest, etc. for countless things around the world. Jam-packed with facts.
When all students arrive, I like to open with a book. Today's selection, Mummy Math: An Adventure in Geometry.
We continued with several lessons taken from The Math Learning Center's Bridges in Mathematics. Many general ideas could be replicated at home.
Area with Pattern Blocks
We began with a lesson using pattern blocks. I told the children, "Just for this lesson, a triangle has an area of 1." I took out a blue rhombus. "If a triangle has an area of 1, what is the area of a rhombus?" [TWO!...they then "proved it" with pattern blocks.] "What about a trapezoid? A hexagon?" In each case, they had to prove their answer, sometimes proving themselves wrong in the process; but as we know, we often learn more from our mistakes than from our successes! Children then determined the area of several larger shapes on a handout. Some could immediately "see" the answer in their minds and then drew lines on the paper to prove it. Others needed to lay down pattern blocks and trace around them to determine area.
Home extension for students: If you have pattern block puzzle books and pattern blocks at home, you can continue the lesson this week by asking students to find the area of various puzzle block pictures. "If the area of a triangle is 1, what is the total area of the picture?" If you don't already own materials, you can find a pattern block template here and some pattern block puzzles here under "pattern block pictures." (Look for puzzles that use these shapes: triangle, rhombus, trapezoid, hexagon. The square and the parallelogram will have to wait for another activity.)
We moved on to another "area" lesson from Bridges, "If the 4-Peg Square is Worth 1," which uses geoboards. Most of my students were unfamiliar with geoboards, so we first took time to explore the new manipulative.
geoboard paper to help. We shared our findings with one another on the overhead (see photo for a later example.)
Hands-On Math: Geometry with Geoblocks, "How Can You Build It?" In this lesson, students try to figure out multiple ways to "build" a block using other combinations of blocks. I LOVE this lesson and have frequently used it with parent groups because it demonstrates the wide range of learning that can be done with one activity. Very simple combinations can be made: 2S=B or S+S=B. But it can get more and more complicated... If S+S=B and B+B=R, then how many S's make R? Students of ALL ages and ability levels can produce wonderful equations.
[Last part mentions God.] In the last few minutes we looked through an old book, Isador A. Inchworm's Magic Math Glasses, at photographs of geometry in nature. Since all of the children in my group come from Christian families, we talked about how God is at work in geometry. In nature. They all left feeling the "fixed point" on top of their heads. ("...the place where your hair radiates, or starts, from." p. 22)
Thanks for a great morning! We missed you, K! See you all next week.