I have this thought that my #makingmath work looks simple to the casual observer, maybe even simplistic. But what I see happening when kids start creating is much, much more than a humble object built from humble materials.
Here’s what I see…
I see adults walking into the library program room side-by-side with their curious children. “Welcome!” I say. “Here’s what we’re doing, but it’s totally okay if your kid takes it in another direction.” There’s a sense of relief as they sit down and their children unapologetically dive in. No wrong direction, lots of possibilities. The anxiety subsides. They are not nearly finished with their investigations when I regretfully say that we’ve gone way over time and it’s time to wrap things up.
I see small children pulled in by sophisticated mathematical / rotational designs, investigating and highlighting structure, shape, and pattern as they outline and color. We’re working with number and shape, and there’s lots to investigate.
I see parents playing around — dude! The dad just made a dinosaur…with teeth! And the mom with a five year old just made a 3D asterisk 12 star! And I think to myself, “I’m glad I didn’t put out the illustrations of Platonic solids because just LOOK at what they’re making!
I see what I am coming to understand as a universal kid interpretation of a mathematical star — a circle divided by lines. I’ve seen it now a bunch of times and I find it FASCINATING.
I notice that a two-dimensional straw design morphs into a 3D “Dr. Seuss house with smoke coming out of the chimney.”
I see a kid get up and get some scissors to make his vision of a rocket a reality. Was not at all satisfied with the status quo of 3″ straw lengths. Good for him!
I see people focused…on making, on expressing ideas, even the two year old who is forging ahead on her road.
And another dinosaur with a spiky tail, from a three year old. And lots of conversations — the room is humming. And a sense of calm and focus.
That’s what I see.