Lately, it’s been a challenge to motivate my students in the area of math. I say lately, but this is a problem I run into periodically, even among “gifted” math students. With this in mind, I went to a workshop on motivating math students at the AMS Conference in March. Unfortunately, the workshop was aimed at Middle School students and I work with Upper Elementary. Fortunately, while many of the specific ideas put forth weren’t appropriate for my age group, the general scope of the workshop gave me a place to start.
Among the ideas suggested (using technology, practical application and games), the one I latched onto was combining Art and Math. I don’t know if it’s a personal preference or because my current population of students enjoys Art, but this was one of the techniques that I’ve started to implement in my classroom. Here are a few of the ideas that I’ve come across in my search for combining Art and Math:
Art and Geometry Cards from Magnolia Montessori
I actually saw these cards in the exhibit hall at the AMS conference. The connections you can draw between Geometry and Abstract Art become pretty clear when you glance through the work on these cards.
Calculating Area and Perimeter with Piet Mondrian
This idea comes from Playful Learning. I’ve actually done this with my students. It was challenging for them, especially since they didn’t have much experience using a ruler. For that reason alone it was a valuable lesson! After drawing a one-inch grid and using it to place their rectangles, students chose three rectangles for calculating perimeter and area. I created a worksheet based on this, which you can download (for free) from my Teachers Pay Teachers store:
I’d love to show you pictures of the students’ work, but you’ll have to wait until the Student Showcase on June 5! They’ll be on full display then!
These Multiplication Circles from Lemon Lime Adventures combine a little bit of Geometry with Math Facts and Practical Life and Art. I’ll confess–it took me a little while to understand how they work, but once I did, I saw right away how my students would have a lot of fun making them. Not to mention how lovely they’d look!
Post-It Note Math
My students love Post-Its, probably because I won’t let them use them. Anyhow, the novelty of being allowed to use Post-Its in the classroom would certainly motivate my students. (Remember how using crayons inspired them to write?) I think I’ll try this project as a way to reinforce the area and perimeter lesson we did with Mondrian.
Highhill Education has a whole page full of math mandalas you can try, depending what you want to emphasize. All, however, are lovely…
This make-your-own abacus activity from the Kids Activities Blog is not only visual striking, but functional, too. I can only imagine how eager student would be to do their math if only they could make their own bead frames…
How do you motivate your students to do math?