As seasoned readers may know, I have always been intrigued by the beauty of math. (See here, here, or here for some examples.) Now that my job title is S.T.E.A.M. Master Teacher, I have been looking even more for ideas on how to integrate math and art.
Math Craft is a great place to start. From mathematical knitting to Sierpinski Christmas trees, there is no shortage of inspiration on this site (though it is a bit heavy on polyhedrons). Not every post gives you instructions, as some of them feature work by professional artists – but you could always pose the question to your students, “How do you think they made this?” They may end up making something completely different, but equally as beautiful, along the way.
While searching for ways to help my engineering students develop some desperately needed problem-solving stamina and spatial reasoning, I came across these wonderful puzzles that are in color – and provide solutions. (Did I mention I need to practice my spatial reasoning, too?) I gave them the TED Ed River Crossing Riddle last week, and I thought I was about to have a full-on mutiny on my hands when I wouldn’t reveal the answer right away, so I thought I would try some less complex challenges for the next few weeks 🙂
Venn Diagrams are pretty ubiquitous in school. Most students have seen and used the common form of a Venn Diagram that you see below in order to compare/contrast two things.
To be honest, after a bazillion years of teaching, I’ve gotten quite bored with using this graphic organizer. However, there are a few people who have thought up some interesting variations on this theme, and I thought I would share some with you.
First up, Venn Perplexors are a series of workbooks that have levels suitable for Kinder and up. Level A sticks with the concept of students grouping pictures and words into diagrams, but the other levels challenge students to use Venn Diagrams to solve math problems. It’s an unusual way to do algebraic thinking that is great for students who need some math enrichment.
I’ve posted about “Logic Zoo”, a PBS Cyberchase game here. It’s fun to play on the interactive board with students in Kinder and 1st.
Another interactive board possibility (for a bit older children) is this one.
Anaxi is a unique game that I included in my Gifts for the Gifted Series in 2016. Players use translucent cards to create Venn Diagram categories that require some creativity to fill. It’s challenging, so I would use it with 2nd grade and up.
Today, I had an interesting discussion with my 3rd graders with this puzzler from Math Pickle. I think this has been my favorite Venn Diagram activity so far. The free printable has 13 different blank diagrams and a list of 13 groups of 3. Problem solvers must find which diagram matches which group. For example, what would the diagram for “reptile, crocodile, and female” look like? The great thing is that the answers are NOT provided, so we were all trying to figure out the answers and debating our solutions. I loved the critical thinking that was used for this activity, though it might be better suited for 4th grade and up. I could definitely see making some of these up for other subjects, too, like geography or social studies. Also, Math Pickle has some other Venn Puzzlers which look wickedly fun here. (I want to try the polygon ones!)
You can e-mail at email@example.com if you need the answers. However, I that you consider not getting the answers so you won’t help your students too much. It’s fun to do some of the challenges as a whole class so you can verbalize your own problem-solving steps with the students!
I am currently offering an online Google Classroom for some students in our district that assigns them one Digital Breakout (Math) a week for 5 weeks. “Scholastic Beasts” is the 4th one in the series. For the first three, you can see:
All of these are designed for 4th grade gifted and talented students. As with the others, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the title of the Digital Breakout if you need the answers – but I find that it’s better to not help your students too much!
I overheard some of my students talking about a cooking show called, “Nailed It!” and decided to make my next Digital Breakout based on that title. Because we have been having a few glitches with Google Sites in our district, I decided to use Weebly to create this one. “Kaled It!” is a bit harder than my 1st and 2nd Digital Breakouts. Therefore, I thought I would give you some of the clues I just posted for my Google Classroom students: Lock 1 can be answered with “The Milk Dilemma.” Lock 2 will be found on “Shopping.” Lock 3 is answered using “Kale Pesto.” If you want to answer Lock 4, then carefully explore the “Meet the Contestants” page.
As with the first two Digital Breakouts I designed, teachers can e-mail me at email@example.com to receive the answers. (Please put the name of the Digital Breakout in the Subject line.) However, I agree with the one teacher who told me that she enjoyed not knowing the answers because she didn’t help her students too much!
Feebo, Not Chee is my latest attempt at doing a Digital Breakout. Like the previous one, this one is designed for 4th grade students. Ideally, they would work on it independently. The pages are not in the same order as the clues, and there are a couple of links to external sites on this one. If you are an educator who needs answers to this breakout, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org