Elementary geometry is very visual, but I try to teach it physically as well. Why?
Because teaching with multiple modalities whenever possible makes information stick much better in the minds of children.
For example, for area and perimeter, we sing the “area and perimeter song.” Songs such as this are very easy to find on YouTube and I highly recommend looking them up and trying them out with your own class. But let's talk now about hand-and-arm motions I use to teach some of the standard terms in elementary geometry.
Even though we are having fun, we still have to be precise. Notice the pointing fingers? Lines run to infinity…
…while line segments have definite end points – thus the clenched fists:
And rays have both a definite end point and an end that runs to infinity:
By 4th grade, students definitely know about football! It's very effective to use referee arm signals when teaching elementary geometry.
Touchdown! Or… parallell lines:
Time Out! Or… perpendicular lines:
Personal Foul! Or… intersecting lines:
Can you guess the best elementary math game for making these geometry concepts stick? “Simon Says,” of course!
You will be very surprised which kids in your classroom win. It will most likely not be who you think. Kids with very high focusing abilities – such as many kids on the Autism spectrum – usually come out on top.
Let's review a few hand-and-arm motions for angles.
The elbow represents the joining point, or vertex, of an angle:
Here's an acute angle, followed by…
…an obtuse angle. Watch the video to hear the voices that go along with these two!
Finally, here is a right angle.:
Betsy's video insights: teaching lines and angles
Here's one final tip for multi-sensory teaching of math: I always invest a lot of color in my lessons both on the smart board and, whenever possible, on worksheets. It's much better than simply using black outlines of geometric shapes all the time.