Geometry Through Art

Norman Shapiro

Exploring Geometry By Making Drawings

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Table of Contents
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The best way for children to learn about geometry is to take up pencil and straight edge (a ruler will do) and design geometrically on paper.

Long before the Greeks worked out the abstract ideas and discipline of Euclid's geometry, the Egyptians, who had little interest in theorizing, used straight edge and a rope compass to build the pyramids. They applied their tools to design and build their fabulous temples and tombs long before Thales worked out his theorem of similar shapes and proportionate sides of triangles. The Egyptians INVENTED geometry and used it for thousands of years before Euclid wrote his books. Theirs was a geometry for land surveyors, artists, architects, engineers, and sculptors. It was a means to performing practical and artistic tasks.

Children need to feel about geometry the way the Egyptians did. Children learn best when they too see geometry as a means to an end. Children are artists at heart. The rationale of making something geometry into art doesn't need explanation. To children, beauty comes before logic and theories; therefore, geometry as art seems the most natural approach for teaching this subject. Geometry Through Art can provide the means.

Copier-ready materials, grade level outlines, and some easy-to-copy models can be requested.

Making art with straight edge and compass will enable children to explore intuitively the basics of geometry. They will learn to rely on the vocabulary of terms on a need-to-know basis. Using this approach, teachers and students will enormously enjoy making colorful art (itself an intrinsic payoff), and at the same time will be immensely impressed by the revelations of this most fascinating subject.


These Web pages are meant to be a resource for educators and learners alike, providing useful, ready-made worksheets that will give students access to authentic geometric experiences. Vocabulary is organized in a continuum of grade levels, and scenarios and hands-on activities give lesson plan outlines as models for use in the classroom.

Most specifically, Geometry Through Art offers a heuristic approach for engaging learners at levels of visualization and analysis. It provides activities for developing a keener spatial sense, and offers empirical procedures that promote creativity and rigor in logic.


heuristic - heu-ris-tic, adj. [of a teaching method]: encouraging a student to discover for him or herself.

Geometry is an ideal subject area for the heuristic methodology. Teaching Geometry Through Art is a program that invites students to investigate informally the elements of linear and plane geometry. They investigate polygons and their intrinsic grids in order to create beautiful visual works of art. They play with new tools and media in a geometrically structured context, constructing in two and three dimensions. Grade level vocabulary and holistic concepts of structure and ordinality are developed by raising students' perceptual horizons. Perception and concepts are deliberately matched to heighten awareness and fix retention.

Teaching Geometry Through Art works best when teachers are given in-service preparation in conjunction with classroom presentations. The methods and activities demonstrated require a minimum of special tools and equipment: pencils, straight edge, compass, paper. Added materials such as scissors, construction paper, colored markers or pencils, glue, etc., are easily attainable. No specialized room facilities are necessary.

A continuum of concepts and activities has been designed by grade level, K through 12. Teacher kits include grade level vocabulary and activities. Grids and prototypical designs are provided as models for use in the classroom. All teachers, whether of common branch subjects, special education, math, or art, will find that Geometry Through Art provides a rich variety of learner-friendly materials.


On to Family Math Day

Copyright 1995 Norman Shapiro

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Norman Shapiro
P.O. Box 205
Long Beach, NY 11561

Web page design by Sarah Seastone
4 November 1995