Shapes and Mobiles

We’ve been such busy little bees for the past week. After working so hard, we finally have gotten the vast majority of our geometric mobiles done. This project was such a huge success amongst my students, and they had a great time doing it. We had been studying shapes for a few weeks when this inspiration came to me at the strangest time – in the middle of the lesson. I had gotten the various shapes (11 in all – we were pretty ambitious) when I began showing them how to make a cube. I wish that I could say that I planned it all this way, but no – I had actually only planned on us constructing some shapes together, and then having the students work in their problem solving groups to make several other shapes, just to get a feel for it. It was while I was introducing the concept to them that I thought to myself, Hey! Make a mobile! You’ve got yarn, they love art – this is a match made in heaven! So I began by modelling the concept – one I knew well and had practiced already, and was confident I could adjust, because all I had to do was poke a hole through the shape and put the string in it. The kids knew that it was a fun, inspired idea that I had gotten, because I told them – “Hey, you guys think these might look cool on a mobile?” After I explained what a mobile was to some of them, and I readjusted the lesson to talk about the basic looks and characteristics of a mobile, we got to work, constructing these awesome 3D shapes. I think the best part of this was how challenging, but creative this was for the kids. They could have given up, but they were so game for it – even after it took us four lessons. But I think what saved the whole lesson was that they had the opportunity to make these wonderful shapes their own. You should see some of their decorations, and some of their designs. I’m amazed by how some of them would integrate so much of what we learned this year. Some would come show me the wonderful designs that they had made, while others would show me the patterns that they were coming up with. I’m so impressed by how much information they can absorb.

And so, from top to bottom, here was the lesson: we began with several lessons of background knowledge for shapes, where we learned the intricate details of what shapes are how they are made; we then spent some time taking and deconstructing the shapes on these cool shape models that we managed to borrow from M. Methe (thanks!) that are actually made of plastic, making it easy to manipulate it, meaning the kids are able to learn the ins and outs of each shape; after that, and many word problems that helped us understand these shapes, as well as some handy dandy Internet sites, we began constructing the shapes; the shapes were each photocopied and spread out on the floor; I modelled the first one (a cube), then we did the second in groups, until they were finally released to try it independently. And fly with it, they did, they did the whole project with their Math partners, and they did a great job coordinating, especially because my input was for cheer leading effect, and and guiding them to make sure they were on the right track. The rest, they did on their own. And what a great job they did.

The whole thing is capped off with those nice green squares that you see below the mobile. On that piece of paper, the teams worked together to name all of the shapes that they had built, and how they managed the feat. There – a little writing, a little art, and a little math.

So take a look and admire. We have many who do when they walk through our little hallway. We’ve gotten many compliments. And I’m pretty proud of them.

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