Working with Polydrons

I bought a new set of Polydrons recently. I already had this set but it was more for playing, like a construction toy.

I am particularly interested in introducing Maths concepts and logic work to my children in a more fun and engaging way than using textbooks, so when I learnt that there were teacher’s manuals for Polydrons, I wanted to use those in conjunction with Polydrons. However I realised our set did not contain all the pieces the teacher’s guides required, so realised I’d have to buy the School set instead – this set in particular.

It costs £140 brand new, but I managed to find a used set sold on Ebay. It was advertised at a £100 Buy It Now price, but there was a Make An Offer button. I decided to chance it by offering £80. A couple of hours later, the seller accepted my offer. Shipping by courier was even included so I don’t pay any extra, which I wasn’t expecting. £80 is still by no means a cheap spend for a Maths home ed resource that isn’t even a complete curriculum, but I felt the educational and fun value of the toy was worth the price, if one had £80 to spend.

The teacher’s guides are sold on the Polydron official website for about £12 a piece. They do publish 2 different books, one supposedly for lower primary and one for higher primary to lower secondary. Well I was contemplating whether spend more money on buying it, but to my delight, I found an absolutely free to download PDF copy online  at the National Stem Centre’s website. I was already a member of this site as everytime we book tickets to go to the Big Bang Fair, we get asked if we want to become members. I joined since I started going to the Big Bang Fair 3 years ago, but never really made use of the membership as I never really had time to look through the entire website.

Both books were available to download from the National Stem Centre’s website. I had a look through both PDFs and decided to use the Mathematics with Polydron book with my kids instead. Yes from the manufacturer’s website, it listed that book as being for the upper primary and lower secondary age group. I felt the material in the Primary mathematics for Polydron book a bit too simple and preferred the ones in the Mathematics with Polydron book.  I have 2 kids in the upper primary and lower secondary age group, and a boy in lower primary who is quite a Mathsy boy. The Mathematics with Polydron book was the best fit. The activities in the book are in the form of activity sheets for each session with teacher suggestions. Very well-planned, very hands-on and all require exploration and on-the-spot problem-solving. Lateral thinking is also required in these activities. Lateral-thinking is not a strong suit amongst my daughters and this is great for showing them ways to solve problems. In my opinion this is like a trigonometry version of Miquon Maths.

Here’s something my kids built for the session we had today:

image

Here is a sample of an activity sheet for one session :

image

And here’s a sample of the teacher suggestions page that corresponds to that activity sheet :

image

I’m really happy with this purchase. It provides endless hours of exploration and logic work. I try to set aside a session of Polydron work per week using the activity sheets from the teacher’s manual to do with my kids. Of course they prefer doing this to textbooks, yet they probably don’t even realise how much they are learning from this!

Very fun and educational and quite challenging for my children, but not enough to put them off. Something about the fact it is a building toy and it is brightly-coloured, and it is very good for teaching trigonometry. Trigonometry can be one tricky subject to understand for children, especially if they learnt it mostly from a textbook and workbook approach. I know it was tricky for me when I was a child learning it in school with textbooks, workbooks, and some really basic geometrical shape models available like a wooden cube, a wooden pyramid, etc. Those were not quite enough. The set I bought came with special Polydron protractors for measuring 3D shapes and my kids had a lot of fun using them and learning about angles. The set comes with several different shapes – isosceles triangles, equilateral triangles, right-angle triangles, squares, hexagons, pentagons. The company also produces and sells other shape pieces like semi-circles and quadrants for instance, which offer the possibility of building spheres, etc. We have not yet come across an activity in the book that requires those shapes. They are a nice addition to the set though, and I may consider purchasing the other shapes in future.

Polydrons provide a solid way to introduce trigonometry concepts and make trigonometry “real” as kids can build 3D models of solids. I wish I discovered this sooner!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s