I recently ordered and received this by mail:
Before getting these, I had the chance to play with different tiles at #MTBOS game night in San Francisco while I was there for the annual NCTM conference. I remember playing with the tiles for a little bit, but nothing crazy. They were fun to play with, but I wasn’t in love.
That has now changed.
The table on which the boxes sit is a shared table on the 3rd floor of my school board office- the place where I work when I’m not in a school with teachers. When I received the turtles, pentagons and Truchet tiles (the square, blue and green ones) I took them out of their boxes, put them on the table and started playing with them.
Within about 2 mins, one of my colleagues sat at the table and started playing with the turtles. There was no prompting or even an invitation on my part. My colleague was simply drawn to the tiles.
Later on in the week, I decided to bring the tiles to the area where our litteracy colleagues work to let them have at it. Some things they said when I placed the tiles on their collaborative table:
- Oh no… is this a math thing?
- What are these things?
- What are we suppose to do?
- Is it a puzzle?
- Oooh, they’re nice.
- How do they fit together?
- Oh look! The turtles fit together like this!
- Hmm, I’m trying to make a shape but I don’t know how (referring to trying to make a decagon with the pentagons).
- These are interesting.
I didn’t answer any of their questions nor did I suggest anything that they « should » do with them. Here are some pics of them at play:
What’s been really fun is discovering patterns and shapes people have left on the table. Again no prompting, no explicit invitation. Just unknown people playing with the tiles and leaving little gems to be discovered and admired by the next:
I realize now that I get tremendous joy watching others discover, explore and delight. I find it so interesting how the tiles- simply by their shape, colour, texture and material- invite people to manipulate them and play with them. Watching people create new patterns and shapes has inspired me to play some more and create new patterns and shapes.
It makes me wonder…
- what other objects (natural or created) are inviting and draw people in?
- could we adapt or modifiy things we already have in order to get the same effect?
- how do we better insert the idea of « playfulness » into our mathematics teaching?
I’ll be bringing the different tiles to a classroom later this week in order to let kids try them out. Should be lots of fun.
I am anxious to play with these and see how other people will interact with these…