Triangles are everywhere! You’ll find them in classrooms, playgrounds, houses, and in our cities. Begin studying a triangle with hands-on activities to help children understand this unique shape.
What is a Triangle?
Display a large triangle in the classroom. It could be cardboard or three pencils forming a pyramid. Show the children that this shape has three straight sides and three corners. In math, we call these corners angles. Now present a large square paper to your students. Ask them how they can construct a triangle from this shape. Demonstrate by folding the square paper in half diagonally and cutting on the fold to make two triangles. Ask, “can you make four triangles from the two we have?" Simple! Just repeat the action of folding and cutting in two.
Where Can You Find Triangles?
Encourage the children to be on the lookout for triangles. They’re everywhere!
- Ask your students to look around the classroom and identify triangles. These shapes may be found in desks, chairs, crates, and bookends. Now take school supplies and make some with pencils, pens, rulers, markers, and so on. Play the “I Spy" game and search the room extensively.
- When you go to recess look for a triangle on the playground. Look for this shape in equipment such as the seesaw, merry-go-round, swings, slides, basketball net, etc. With a piece of chalk, challenge the kids to draw a hopscotch game using triangle shapes. What fun!
- For homework, assign the kids to look for triangles at home. Your students may notice floor tiles with a triangular shape, fabric designs, the roofline on the exterior of the house, windowpanes, and so on. Ask the children to create a list and then share the results with the class the next day.
Bring a little STEM curriculum into the classroom as you discuss how important triangles are to engineering and architecture. This shape makes a strong and rigid structure. Talk about rafters on the roof of a building or a bridge. Just about any building has some form of a triangle in its design. Stress that triangular roof lines are used for good reason. The slope allows for the runoff of excess rain and melting snow. Gather some Tinker Toy or magnetic block and construct a house. Use a triangle shape for the roof.
Fun With Triangles
Straw Triangle – Invite your students to create triangles with straws and paper clips. Each child will need three straws and three paper clips. Open a paper clip. Press one end of the clip into the opening of one straw and press the other end into the opening of another straw. Proceed with this process with the other two clips and straws. Check out this shape structure. The triangle straw is surprisingly strong and rigid.
Transportation Vehicles With Triangles – Discuss things that go with your kids. Notice triangle shapes in these vehicles. Think about sailboats, rocket ships, truck rigs, and parts of a train engine. Provide construction paper and some other recycled odds and ends. Challenge the children to make a transportation picture with these materials. Place the finished pictures on a bulletin board entitled “Triangles on the Go!"
Pennants on Parade – Measure a length of twine as long as your classroom wall. Provide colorful construction paper and invite the kids to make pennants (a triangle shape). Let them decorate the shapes as they wish with all kinds of art materials. Tape these triangles to the twine and hang this project to give your classroom a festive look.
For more activities with a triangle check out these articles from Bright Hub Education:
- Personal experience teaching early childhood
- Exploring Triangles, Copycat Magazine, May/June 1998
- Craft photos courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved
- Triangle pyramid and banner, courtesy of Pixabay.com, creative commons