Posted by: jwhiff | May 1, 2016

How to Make Shape Shifters

IMG_0037What are Shape Shifters?  They are twelve little right-angle triangles, designed for the purpose of engaging in transformational geometry.  And they are designed to bring story and culture into mathematics.

IMG_4287At the start, they were made by cutting and colouring triangle graph paper mounted onto card.  Although students were able to discover a surprising number of shapes through transformation, the pieces lacked substance.  They needed something.

This past year, however, I was struck with an idea.  My little set of right angle triangles would find a perfect home in Northwest Coast Aboriginal art. I could picture 4-right angle triangles nested together to form a rhombus on which characters would be drawn and coloured.  Each set would then consist of 3 such characters who would dance and transform into all kinds of delightful creatures.  And perhaps each dance could have a storyline.  What a wonderful thought…story in mathematics!

I also discovered that if you glued the pieces onto a combination of craft foam and felt, they were thicker and more of a pleasure to use.  The felt helps them slide and the pieces come together nicely without overlapping.

If you are interested in making your own Shape Shifters, check out this short powerpoint: Making Shape Shifters

You are also welcome to print out and use my designs.  Or if you wish, challenge your students to draw their own rhombi (using triangle graph paper) and then create their own designs on the plain side.

shape shifter character sheets


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