I read a magazine article recently called "The Geometry of Place." After studying the text and the images, I decided to think about the geometry cabinet and the solids as gateways to understanding architectural design. I keep a collection of architectural images in a folder near the geometry cabinet for the children to examine. I remember a few of the children being suprised by pictures of houses that did not have angular roofs - just flat like the lid of a box. Then a few weeks ago, I included the image of a handout I had given the children of four doors in a blog post titled: "A Very Busy Monday." Two doors were patterned and two were blank. I asked them to think of each of the doors as a gateway to their imagination, as a means of sensorial exploration via one piece of a larger material. Each of the children eagerly illustrated them and then made a mobile using pipe cleaners and their four cut-out rectangular doors. It was a good project.
Next, I found an illustration of the New Museum of Art that could be cut out, folded and taped to construct the building itself. I asked my assistant Cristine to do this and present it to the children. They watched with careful attention to her presentation and assemblage of the building. When she was done, I gave the children a hand out of the solids cube flattened and with added tabs for use in its construction. Before they made their cubes, they illustrated the sides. Another good project that all of the children completed.
The paper model being cut and folded.
The paper model of the New Museum of Art assembled.
The pattern for the cube was then introduced.
Cutting out the pattern.
The paper model of the cube cut and folded.
The paper cube paired with the geometric solids cube.
A few days after the cubes where constructed, one of my oldest students asked if he could make each of the geometric solids from paper. Without discouraging him, I let him know that I was pretty busy and would not be available to help him much. He said he was confident he could complete most of them. He proceeded to do so and with much success. Here are a few pictures of his completed work:
When he came to the ellipsoid, he needed my help. I explained as well as I could how he might achieve his goal. I talked to him about tulips...yes! Tulips. I drew his attention to its shape before the petals opened. I cut a small circle from white paper and then cut the circle into a flower shape with several petals. I placed this flat, paper flower onto the table and then in the palm of my hand. As I curled my hand the petals rose and joined into an almost perfect ellipsoid shape. He stared at my hand and the motions I was making. The look in his eyes made the phrase “absorbent mind” appear literal. I added to the imagery two dried latern pods. I noted the segments of the pods and asked him to consider their construction. A moment later he was headed back towards his table with the paper flower, dried pods, card stock and scissors.
It would be almost thirty minutes before I could move away from my work with several four year olds and revisit his table. My eyes met his and then the object he had created. I thought to myself, "This is the results of three years in the Montessori environment. A child is able to master the tasks he asks of himself." This child proposed the work to me and completed it with only a small amount of input from myself. And while it is not exactly an ellipsoid, it is pretty amazing. Bravo!