Friday, May 13, 2011

Free U: The Accidental Geometry Lesson

It has been a rather rough week for Danny. He's been pretty aggressive. In fact, he hit a boy at preschool so hard that the kid had a bruise on his arm. Friday morning, I kept him out of Parents Morning Out as a consequence. I sent Fiona and kept him and Owen home (he needed a morning nap). We told him that we just couldn't trust him to be around other kids right now. So instead, he hung out with me. I made no special effort to play with him; I just went about my housework and told him that this is what I do when they are at church on Fridays. And out came the laundry baskets. I sat on the floor started pulling out the kitchen rags. I told him to come help me fold.

They're square. I figured he could handle it.

He made a half-hearted attempt, said "help me" and then ran off to the sofa to sulk. I called him back, saying, "You asked for help. Come here so I can show you." I did not want to spend the morning with a sulky boy so I decided to try to make it fun for him.

I told him to "cut" the towel in the middle with his hand and fold it to turn a square towel into a rectangle.

So from then on, of course, towel folding had a sound effect. What do you expect from a four year old boy?

SHOOP. And fold. Voila! A rectangle.

SHOOP. And fold. Voila! Another square.

SHOOP. And fold. Voila! Another rectangle.

After a few of those, I decided to introduce diagonal folds to make triangles out of the square. We had a tidy pile of triangles and rectangles and a boy who was disappointed when all the towels were folded.

By this time, I had also introduced the concepts of diagonal, vertical and horizontal. In my head, I could see those graphs I had worked with in geometry class.

Now, I'm no math genius. (That's actually the understatement of the decade. I make my husband calculate and add tips to our restaurant tabs while he mocks me with "Math is hard." Whatever. This is the man who calls apostrophes "commas in the air.") I vaguely sensed, though, that these activities were math related. So I googled patterns and geometry just to see what would come up and found this charming worksheet. Albeit, it is third grade level math, but I bet if he looked at it long enough, he could find all the squares in the 5x5 or 25 unit square. But when I started staring at it, my mind immediately shut down and my eyes literally began to squint and actually hurt as if I'd been starting at it for a lot longer than 10 seconds (which was really all I could handle).

Something tells me that folding square kitchen rags into rectangles and triangles was a good enough and more productive accidental introduction to geometry for him.

1 comment:

PJD said...

Good one ... Dad