Monday, September 17, 2012

The evolution of play part 2: Introducing 3 Dimensional Shapes


Last week we worked on some easy “getting to know each other” activities and I noticed a lot of interest in 2-D shape exploration.  Many of the children were already familiar with shapes which may be why it was such a popular ice breaker activity. The daycare newbies and veterans alike could participate in activities such as peeling sticker shapes in the art area or spotting shapes around the room so we had a common ground for the beginning of our learning journey together. While planning for this week I wanted to find a way to extend that mathematical magic and start a new round of exploration with the kids.

During my observations I noticed that the following 2-D shapes are very familiar among all the children: circles, squares, triangles but few of them were aware of their 3-D counter parts: spheres, cubes and triangular prisms. I got to digging around in my teacher supplies and came up with the following collection of items to extend their play. 

Mirrored Triangular Prism: 

Our mirrored triangular prism kaleidoscope is always a hit. I created this for the kids a while back when we were working on light and reflections. We usually use this on the plexiglass panels but today in the interest of getting to know each other, I decided to tape a photo of Josh inside. The children are able to move around the room with the mirror or use it at the table with another mirror to create even more triangles and visual interest.   

Spinning Triangle mirror:

The spinning mirror offered the kids a different view of the triangular prism with the added dimension of motion. It was great for highlighting angles, repetition and the illusion of depth created when mirrors are reflected into each other. It also brought all of the kids together for lots of giggles as they searched for each other’s faces as reflections whizzed by. 
The children had to collaborate, take turns and be careful not to spin the plexiglass mirrors too hard or our cool new toy would  fall apart.

We also worked with the Montessori nesting cubes. I taped photos inside the bottom of the cubes then set them face down on a rectangular mirror. The challenge for the kids was to find the pictures without lifting the cubes. It was surprisingly tricky to do! The trick in working with the mirrors was that the children had to back up and look at the reflection in the mirror instead of standing closer and peering in the hole. Some of the kids figured it out and others opted to work with the cubes in the traditional nesting / stacking method.a lot going on so we will revisit this one another day for


The glittery sphere, (a.k.a. the disco ball) was lots of fun to play with! The kids had to work together by taking turns spinning it and thinking about how to move the ball without hitting each other. It was another great cooperation project because that ball is heavy and hard! Guessing the trajectory that the ball was going to take on proved to be too challenging so we decided that if someone wanted to swing the sphere everyone else would have to move away. When two or more children wanted to watch the sphere they took turns spinning the ball instead of swinging. Some of the children noticed the reflections dance across the floor and attempted to capture them.

Some other super nerdy math fun facts we will discuss are the definitions of dimensional objects.

1 Dimensional = is only a line- no length or width

2 Dimensional shapes are flat they have length and width

3 Dimensional shapes are solid they have length depth and height

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