“Shapes & Patterns: In the Natural World”

Keep it simple.  Sometimes I plan and plan a lesson and I think it will be the best thing ever and then it just bombs.  I know I am not the only one that has had this experience and on the flip side some of my most successful lessons have been ones that I came up with in the car on my way to work and decided I had to try it that day even if I would have to eat lunch standing up while getting everything ready, I had to try it right away.

Teaching for me is sometimes an experiment one book that has led me in a new and exciting direction is Shapes & Patterns: In the Natural World from the “eye like” series published by PlayBac.  This book is full of wonderful photographs and another book that combines shapes and lines.  The first line states, “Every shape and every pattern can be found in nature!”  This book finds similar shapes and patterns and groups them together.  A snake that has similar markings to a giraffe, an animal called pangolin that looks just like a big pinecone.  Students are almost as excited, as I am to compare the different things that are found in nature.  We want to figure out why things look they way they do and together we can discuss and experiment with how to solve problems and make discoveries by combining visual art and science.   Students are curious, they ask questions and problem solve through the simple act of looking at interesting photographs.  Some of the things on the pages the students are familiar with and other things they have never seen before but because they are next to each other they can compare and contrast and quickly be comfortable with everything they are looking at.  It makes me realize that if you break thinks down look at them in the simplest way then anyone can understand them even as they become more complex because you have taken many small step to reach a greater goal.

I pick and choose maybe only looking at one page for a class comparing the snowflake to the other star shapes on the page.  Talking about different types of stars.  Counting how many points all the different stars have.  Then cutting snowflakes, comparing each other’s and counting the shapes and points of everyone’s snowflakes.  Each student’s snowflake is different just like really snowflakes.

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