just plain fun... and a little geometry!
On a day when I was subbing in a second grade classroom, wanting to do an art activity but not in the mood to bother with a full-blown lesson, I decided to focus on shapes and patterns. Usually when I do a patterning lesson, I get into a whole "math chat" mode and ask a lot of questions about what patterns are, how we know, and other identifying information. This time, I just put up a sheet of butcher paper, labeled it "Patterns in the Classroom" and asked students to describe, with words, patterns they could see around them. The key here was describing with words. I specifically asked them not to indicate what they were looking at, but simply to describe a pattern they found. As they described what they saw, I drew the patterns, as I understood them, on the paper. Once we had several examples, I talked about how even if what I drew wasn't exactly what students saw, we still ended up with some interesting patterns. U explained that is called "getting an idea" or "getting inspiration" -- that the patterns they saw could be changed to create new patterns. The actual art-making part of this activity was very simple: Trace some shapes onto white paper (I had brought my collection of cardboard and plastic shapes with me) and then color in the resulting spaces. I introduced the words overlap and intersect and modeled tracing a few shapes to demonstrate the meanings of the words. I made sure students understood that each shape needed to overlap at least one other shape,...