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Children interact with shape from a very early age and, to build on this, I encouraged my son (when he was about 2) to make patterns on the fridge from magnetic pattern blocks. As we continued experimenting together, we moved on to Polydron and, along the way, I became interested in using simple geometric animations to further engage my son, Dexter, (and then also my daughter, Cleo) in conversations about shapes and patterns in an attempt to engender an appreciation of the beauty of geometry. Often, at bedtime, my children would ask to see these ‘aminations’ as they sometimes called them when they were younger.
Many of the animations lend themselves to questions about how many shapes there are or the path taken by one particular shape, line or point. Some animations lead to more obvious questions. The one below, for example, simply morphs through a looping sequence of common polygons.
For example, by clicking on the image below, you'll see that the animation simply morphs through a looping sequence of common polygons.
The aim here is to encourage the identification of shapes while entertaining them with the way each shape morphs into the next. Can your child name each shape? What other questions can you ask about the animation?
Animations can also be a source of more complex questions. Click on the image below to see an example:
The answer to this question uses the concept of the lowest common multiple (or modulo arithmetic). However, there is a small sting in the tail. Did you get the right answer? There are also many other questions that we can ask:
How often do the triangle and square align? Why
How often do any two shapes align and why?
How does the answer change if a hexagon (with a dividing line) is added that takes 6s to rotate?
You can even encourage an empirical approach to the answer(s) and use a stopwatch!
There are around 100 animations on the Geometry Dad Twitter feed at the moment. In contrast, the Geometry Dad Facebook page generally contains photos of Dexter and Cleo’s constructions. These days, they mostly use Magnetic Polydron since it allows them to explore 2D and 3D space quickly and see their ideas come to life without being distracted by how the polygons attach to each other.
This is a great journey for me and my children. Feel free to join us!
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me on Twitter (@TableTalkMath) or comment below. Be sure to have your friends sign up for the newsletter at tabletalkmath.com for weekly updates.
Thank you for taking the time to improve math fluency for children, one table talk conversation at a time.