Platonic Solids

Our school is tumbling with 3D solids constructed by the children. They are EVERYWHERE! Hanging from the ceiling, sitting in the lawn, decorating the tops of shelves, sitting quietly on a table and peeping out of lonely window panes. The children can’t seem to get enough of constructing solids out of paper, straws, sticks – anything that will work!

The children have explored these geometric solids in a variety of ways – they have made them in clay and then cut them up to observe the shapes of their faces, they have explored the environment for these solids and made comparative charts recording their edges, faces and vertices.

One day they ran each face of the solid in sand, tracing it’s path. They observed the pattern of shapes left on the sand. On another day they copied the pattern onto paper, using the actual solid to trace the faces.

They had arrived at making their own geometric nets!

The environment was buzzing with activity!

“How do we make cones and cylinders with circles and rectangles?” “Is it possible for me to make the sphere with paper too?” “”Look! there is more than one way to make a triangular pyramid!”

And then…one of the them discovered the Platonic Solids.

It was love at first sight.

The enthusiasm caught on and each morning there were a few of them trying their hand at making these symmetrical solids that have inspired so many great thinkers, like Plato (who they are named after) and Kepler who believed they held the secret to the orbits of planets.

The child who first discovered the platonic solids has moved on to more complicated 3D solids – the cuboctahedron, the cantellated tetrahedron and the decagonal antiprism … what’s more he’s constructing the nets using a protractor and compass!

Our aim is not only to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his innermost core.- Maria Montessori

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