Friday, January 28, 2011

Cereal Box Tessellations

I wanted to clean out the rest of the empty cereal boxes, from under the sink today - the ones without any fun games on the back. I couldn't bring myself to just toss them out, but we don't have curbside recycling in our corner of Montana, and our local recycling center wants a donation if you drop anything off. So, I cut them up into squares, triangles, and hexagons, instead.

Then, I laid them out on the table, in a tessellating pattern, with a couple of extra boxes, a ruler, pencils, and scissors, in case anyone wanted to add shapes of their own.

Fridays are supposed to be completely unschooled, or our day off, as the children like to call it, so I didn't offer any kind of instruction, or activity with the shapes. Though, earlier in the week we had watched the Cyberchase episode entitled, "A Perfect Fit", dealing with tessellations (you can find it in three parts on YouTube, starting here), and I sat out a copy of D.B. Johnson's, Escher inspired, Palazzo Inverso.

I left the shapes on the table the entire day, through lunch, dinner, and snack time, as well. The younger girls were the first to take interest in them. C (age 4), used them to make pictures, like the girl with the bow on her head below.

E (age six), tried to piece the boxes back together, puzzle style.

A (age 9), made a path out of hexagons.

D (age 8), used triangles.

And, G (age 11), arranged a honeycomb.

T, who at 13, has lived with me long enough to recognize a learning activity when he sees one, wouldn't touch them. But, he was happy enough to call out the names of the different sided polygons, for anyone interested, and spent some time turning Johnson's book, this way, and that, studying the topsy-turvy illustrations.

None of them attempted a multi-shaped tessellation, but I returned the shapes to the same three shaped pattern, after each time the children left it. I like it that way, because it reminds me of my grandmother's quilts. She never finished school, and couldn't read, or write, but she knew how to tessellate - not that she would have called it that, anymore than she would have called cutting up the old shirts to make the quilts - recycling.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

Ticia said...

Bother, now I'm trying to think what that quilt pattern is called.

It's almost a double wedding ring, but it's not that. I want to say a honeycomb, but I'm sure it's not that. Right now the term is "eye spy" quilts, and they're a bother to piece to my mind.

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

Your comment about T cracked me up. I think Anna wised up to my ideas at 4 :) I really liked what the rest did with the shapes, and what an interesting tidbit about your grandmother.

Unknown said...

Oh, quilting makes me miss my grandmother too...

(And I am going to check out that Escher inspired book IMMEDIATELY- I just love his work...even if it was "drug induced"...)

Debbie said...

Selena was so upset when they took Cyberchase off the air here. Besides Sid the Science Kid, she loved Cyberchase. I thought it was way over her head, but she was always glued to it. What a great way to use those empty cereal boxes, and let the kids explore and learn freely!

Unknown said...

my kids could pick out 'an educational thing disguised as 'fun' from a mile away since they were about 7.

for us, the best way to get them to do tings like that is if I am sitting down cutting, piecing together, making things while ignoring them.. I guess my boys are like cats.
and when they ask "what are you doing?" the best answer is "nothing really, just seeing what these make."
then they get curious

The picture was not a plate but the light fixture at Arby's.

Anonymous said...

PBSKIDS.com has episodes of Cyberchase, Electric Company, Fetch etc. Is the quilt pattern 'garden path'?

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

I think it's reminding me of her version of the wedding ring pattern - but I'm not sure.

Christy Killoran said...

I love this post. It's fun to see all of the kids working. I also love your comments about T because my 13 year old T is very similar.