Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Math on a Stick: Fold & Cut

This activity is one I am doing at Math on a Stick at the Minnesota State Fair August 27 & 28, 2015. You can find out more about Kirigami, a paper folding and cutting tradition similar to Origami, and more simple designs for kids to experiment with here.
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Below are instructions for simple folding and cutting. One additional thing to look out for is that when children begin to cut away paper to create holes they often just make slits in the paper. A "hole" in this sense is at least two cuts that, when you open the paper, create an empty space.

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delights in creating rich environments in which children and their adults can explore, make, play, and talk math based on their own questions and inclinations. Her upcoming book, Math on the Move: Engaging Students in Whole Body Learning, will be published by Heinemann in Fall 2016.

Math on a Stick: Beading Patterns

This activity is one I am doing at Math on a Stick at the Minnesota State Fair August 27 & 28, 2015 and can be found in the upcoming book I co-authored with Dr. Gordon Hamilton titled Socks are Like Pants, Cats are Like Dogs which is available for pre-order.

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We often ask children to find and sort everyday objects according to their properties (for example, into piles of white socks and socks that are not white). In early algebra terms, this means sorting items into categories. We can also use this kind of mathematical thinking about properties to create brand new objects.

Beads are full of similarities and differences that can help you create beautiful patterns as simple or complex as you want. All you need to get started are string or pipe cleaners and beads in multiple colors and sizes. You can even make your own beads by cutting up drinking straws! As you create your patterns, you get to ask lots of interesting questions:
“How will you make the pattern interesting?”
“Will you use all small beads, or a combination of sizes?”
“Will they all be smooth, or will you add a rough textured bead into the mix?”

Whatever you choose to do, it will be yours and it will be beautiful. You will know exactly how to talk about what and how you made this beautiful thing because you’re the one who created it!

Materials
Pre-cut lengths of cotton string and/or pipe cleaners
Bowls or other containers to hold beads

Activity Description
Look at all the beads. Find different ways to describe them (color, shape, size, texture, etc.). Notice the similarities and differences between the beads (for example, same color, different shapes). Create a four-bead pattern unit (four beads in a row) and repeat that unit until satisfied.