Sunday, April 22, 2012


For some reason, I had circles in my head.  Last night I gathered up a bunch of different sizes of circles...

...and this morning I taught the kid how to use a compass.  It took a little practice, but she got the hang of it fairly quickly.

She played around with concentric circles, circles that 'go off the page' and even discovered that three circles together can 'make a triangle!'

While she played around, I took a paper plate and a CD.  With the CD centered inside the paper plate, I drew one circle tracing the small circle in the center of the disc.  Then I played around...until, WOW!  Look at that!  I made a hexagon!  I felt like I had just discovered a dinosaur bone or something.  I decided to color it in to highlight the structure.

At that point it was time to go do Sunday things, but it took forever to get out the door.  The kid kept finding circles everywhere. 

When we got home from Sunday things, we started in on it again.  This time, the kid started experimenting with tracing the circles. A straw can make a smaller circle than the compass can.

I made another hexagon out of circles, but colored it in differently, the kid's favorite it turns out.

The kid constructed two different versions of concentric circles (mostly using the compass).  "See Mama!  They're the reverse of each other.  This one has a lot of rings on the inside, but not on the outside.  The other circle is the opposite!"  

And, then, she wanted to make a hexagon like mine so I showed her how to use the CD center circle.  I really like her design sensibility.  It's so different from mine.

And then it was time for lunch, but we still have unanswered questions waiting to be resolved.  Like, what else can you make with the compass besides circles inside circles?  Great question, kid. 

I'm fairly certain we've only just begun...


  1. Another great post! We have several tracing templates, each with differently sized geometric shapes. My son's favorite appears to be a circle. It's especially fun combined with a dot-dot marker or dot stickers from a dollar store.

  2. When I saw the title I was thinking of the other compass :) We haven't tried the compass yet here - my husband has one, but he is pretty protective of his "playthings". We do like our spirograph that allows more complex circular designs.

  3. I've been looking for a spirograph but can't find them anywhere. I think I'll have to look harder... The kid really likes using a compass, I think b/c it makes her feel grown up and she loves the feeling of mastering a new skill.

  4. Maike, I enjoy watching you and the "kid" exploring, similar to what I went through when I was 40, and I knew about as much math then as she does now. What a wonderful gift you are giving her and allowing yourself.

    Of course I am commenting on the circle entry. Folding is the territory of dancing and movement not found in drawing maps of circles. Having drawn hexagon-arranged circles on the paper plate, now fold a triangle grid into the circle, using a different plate, and look for similarities and differences. Both are important but it is the experience of the territory that is the payoff. 2-D is not instructive to 3-D, they are different countries.


Thanks for reading. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments!


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