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Shape spotting

Triangles and pylons

Are you a shape spotter? Try a new angle!

Coming from the word, meaning ‘three’ – think tricycle, triplets, triceratops (three horns) – and the word angle, its name describes exactly what it is. This beautiful shape can be spotted everywhere. It’s a game I like to play with my children when we are waiting for something. How many squares can you spot? How many circles? But the common triangle is always one of the easiest.
Square, parallelogram, triangle

Triangles are a nice rigid structure. Think how easy it is to squash a square.

But a nice equilateral triangle (one with all sides the same length) – not so easy!

But this is obvious, isn’t it, so why mention this at all? Well, yes, but if we are going to talk about mathematics in the everyday, pointing out the properties of a triangle is important. And it has a practical purpose as well.

Getting started

Why not look at structures with the children? Or you can look at photos of structures children see all the time, such as electricity pylons, the roof next door or bridges. How many triangles can you see? Why do you think a triangle has been used? What properties does a triangle have that makes it perfect for the job? What would happen if we switched it for a square? How would the water run off the roof? What would happen to the electricity pylon? Can we try it out?

Build a house from blocks and try different roof shapes and then pour water on them. Build electricity pylons out of cocktail sticks and clay blobs. What shapes are more solid? Why has that particular shape been used?

While you dive into the joy of spotting shapes in your surroundings, I’m off for some further reading about the wonderful world of pylons.

How do you investigate shapes with the children in your care?
Let us know in the comments below.

Hayley Bates
Article author: Hayley Bates
National Certifications Coordinator

Hayley has an insatiable thirst for learning – about everything! Her sheer joy of discovery and passion for professional development makes her the perfect person to run the Little Scientist’s House Certification program.

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