Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Making a "Map of Angles"

Sometimes I think the best learning is the least expected kind.  Or maybe it's the kind where you take advantage of the moment.  Like this morning.

Seven year old: "Hey Mama, I'm making a map of angles!"

Me: "How do you do that?"

"You know, with the plastic map of angles."

"Oh....you mean a protractor?"

"Yeah.  Wanna buy this one for a penny?"

"Hmmm...let me think about that.  I think its worth between a penny and a dime."

"Okay, five cents!"

"You got yourself a deal!"

"Hey, I know!  I could make a bunch of angle maps and you could buy them."

"Why would I want to do that?"

"Well, you could use them at your family night."

"Hmmm...sounds like a good idea.  I guess it would work if you could make each map different in some way."

"Oh, I know!  I'll use this square [template]."

First she marked the angles, and drew the lines free hand.

Then I happened to wander by and casually showed her how to draw the rays from a center point.

"How 'bout I color it?"

"Sounds cool to me!"

"How much will you give me for them?"

"Oh, I don't know, how about a quarter each.  You're putting some good effort into them, I think they're worth it."

"I've got two sheets left.  How can I do them differently?"

"How about trying it with a circle.  But how would you find the center point?  [Both of us experimenting...]  If you make a circle with your compass you'll for sure know where the center is...."

"Great idea, Mama!"

And there you have the story of the "Map of Angles".  We still haven't figured out how exactly I'll use them at the family night.  Also, I don't normally pay my daughter for school work!  But the combination of earning potential and being part of the family night in some way even though its too late and too far away for her attend was obviously a very inspiring and motivating context for her!   

I can't really imagine this would be an interesting activity all on its own, but the results sure are pretty!


  1. Beautiful. And angle maps are very useful. I like the square ones and the round ones. Definitely worth payment. There's all sorts of places where you could use those! And why hasn't anyone thought of colouring them before!

    I think it would be a good thing for everyone to make one of these. I think they would measure better than the shop-bought ones! Especially if they were made by someone who had the idea themselves.

  2. Hi, Malke,

    I love that you're combining dance and math! I'm combining my first love (creative writing) and math. I think too often kids think that math is this foreign subject, when it's really integral to everything including the arts.

    I came across your blog via David Wees, and as a fellow mathematics educator I thought you might be able to help in spreading the word about an educational TV show for preteens about math that we're putting together. "The Number Hunter" is a cross between Bill Nye The Science Guy and The Crocodile Hunter -- bringing math to children in an innovative, adventurous way. I’d really appreciate your help in getting the word out about the project.


    I studied math education at Jacksonville University and the University of Florida. It became clear to me during my studies why we’re failing at teaching kids math. We're teaching it all wrong! Bill Nye taught kids that science is FUN. He showed them the EXPLOSIONS first and then the kids went to school to learn WHY things exploded. Kids learn about dinosaurs and amoeba and weird ocean life to make them go “wow”. But what about math? You probably remember the dreaded worksheets. Ugh.

    I’m sure you know math is much more exciting than people think. Fractal Geometry was used to create “Star Wars” backdrops, binary code was invented in Africa, The Great Pyramids and The Mona Lisa, wouldn’t exist without geometry.
    Our concept is to create an exciting, web-based TV show that’s both fun and educational.

    If you could consider posting about the project on your blog, I’d very much appreciate it. Also, if you'd be interested in link exchanging (either on The Number Hunter site, which is in development, or on StatisticsHowTo.com which is a well-established site with 300,000 page views a month) please shoot me an email. We're also always looking for input and ideas from other math educators!

    Thanks in advance for your help,


  3. Really looking forward to read more.


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


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