Real life math applications are so much better than worksheets, and anytime you can find one project to employ multiple subjects you’ve got yourself a deal. Give it seasonal appeal and it’s a bonus project with extra purpose. Additionally, combining art and math is a fantastic whole-brained exercise that draws on and develops the strengths of both cerebral hemispheres.*
This past week I presented just such a project to my children. I spent less than $3.00 for all 5 kids to complete an assignment that qualified as both math and art, and which also added to festive Halloween decorations. Even better: it got them excited. This was a developmental pursuit in geometry, measurement, creativity, aesthetics, association, and coordination. It took right-brained thinking to have an imaginative vision of the whole, and left-brained mathematics, logical analysis, and attention to detail to make it. It was hands-on, 3D, and real.
The mission was to make Halloween Houses. I purchased several 12”x12” pieces of Halloween scrapbook paper at a discount, put it in the middle of the table, and told the kids they were using this paper and Scotch tape to make small model houses. Helping my youngest, who was concentrating on cutting, taping, choosing paper, naming shapes, and learning to use a ruler, I showed everyone a basic format of 4 main walls of squares of equal sizes, rectangle pieces for the pitch of the roof, attached to triangles whose bases were the same length as the square walls. The kids were free to use whatever measurements they wanted (within reason, considering there was only so much paper, and also to be considerate as to not use all of one particular pattern) as well as whatever building design and/or embellishments they wanted.
The project isn’t going to end with math and art, however. Each of the kids had a different vision. For some, I sensed a story behind the creation—that the artistic and architectural vision came from thoughts of plots and characters that might as yet be subconscious but nonetheless there. One child did a half-open creepy door cutout. One child put holes in his roof and added sinister stairs inside that could be seen through a doorway under the ominous porch. One child added an attic, and his triangles did not match his squares, giving the house a more traditional aged and threatening look. Because we have a theme in our homeschool this year of “Everyone Has a Story,” in the next week the children will each be writing “the story” of their Halloween House.
If you don’t like Halloween, you can adopt the idea simply for autumn, or you could do something similar at Christmas time. Since this was my kids’ first go at it, and we were on a bit of a time schedule when we did it, most of the kids kept it simple to get it finished. I suspect if given another opportunity and more time they’ll be faster at the fundamentals and want to add on to and enhance the basic concept. Maybe it’ll become a new October tradition.
Whatever you do this week, try to find some creative, real-world applications for newfound knowledge and skills. Take notice of left- and right-brained thinking and see how many activities you can find to employ both.
*For a quick test of hemispheric dominance, go here.
You can leave your thoughts, comments or suggestions here on my feedback page. Thanks!