• supporting creativity in the classroom and beyond •

• supporting creativity in the classroom and beyond •

Saturday, November 15, 2008

geometric figures

I have done Geometric People with many second and third grade classes. I've also done a simpler version with Kindergarten and first graders, and more complex versions with upper grade GATE students. Recently I had the idea to give students the choice of creating a person or an animal entirely out of geometric shapes. The activity begins with a review of geometric shapes. With younger students, I draw them on the white board and explain that these are the only shapes they can use. We then look at pictures of animals and talk about the possible shapes that could be used for bodies, heads, ears, tails, and legs. A discussion about the possible shapes for the parts of a person is accompanied with directions that geometric people need to be showing some activity. Depending on the class, I will draw a geometric person and/or animal on the board while they suggest shapes, keeping all shapes separate from each other and pointing out to students that none of the shapes touch each other.

Students are able to choose one bright color for their figure. They don't use pencils to draw any shapes first because I want them to start training their eyes to visualize what they are going to cut. I've found it helpful to demonstrate for students different ways to cut large and small triangles without wasting a lot of paper, because over time I've found that most students want to cut straight into the center of the paper to cut shapes that result in some very "unstraight" edges. I show them how to use the straight edges of the paper for one or two straight sides of their shapes. I also show them how to cut a circle or oval by starting with a square or rectangle and rounding the corners.

One day, when a couple of students had finished their figures and everyone else still had a way to go, I decided to have them do rubbings of their geometric figures. This was so successful that I have made it a regular part of this lesson/activity. Students can do one rubbing or they can do repeated rubbings, moving their paper and using different colors, until they have filled the paper. Sometimes students can do more than one rubbing using totally different colors. During the discussion period, we can then talk about different combinations of colors and how they make us feel.

Overall, this is a really simple activity that takes virtually no planning, no preparation, and results in very little mess. It requires students to make choices of shapes based on their own observations. When a whole class set is displayed as a group, especially on a black background, the result is dramatic, whimsical, and colorful.

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