Building Shapes and Community

For the past few years I’ve started off our math time with the Week of Inspirational Math from Jo Boaler and her YouCubed team at Stanford. We always spend more than a week on the activities because they are so fabulous and the kids are having a blast. This morning we tried the Building Shapes activity.

In small groups students take a long piece of rope that is tied to make one big loop. They use the rope to make the shapes above. The rectangle and the square are where they usually start and I make them work to prove to me that they’ve created the shape they say they’ve made.

This morning my kiddos worked on this far longer than I had anticipated. They talked and listened to each other. They gently helped each other when someone was struggling. They got frustrated and worked through it. I was impressed.

The star was the next shape the groups tackled (by their choice). One group got frustrated and decided to try one of the pyramids instead. The other two groups kept going. They had five or six kiddos so they had enough hands for all the vertices but they were still having a rough time. Then one group came up with an idea I had not seen before.

They put the rope on the floor, created their star, and then made sure everyone had a hand on it. Brilliant. As soon as one group was sitting on the ground the other group realized what was happening and did it as well. They made some nice looking stars!

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