Friday, March 11, 2011

Jump St(art) in Math

I’ve written a lot about art books that inspire me, but I am fortunate to have some real people around me for inspiration as well!  Stephanie Jünemann  is a professional artist who some years ago turned her attention to teaching art.  We got to know each other through our sons, who were in the same kindergarten and now the same school together. I love tossing around ideas with her and seeing what she will come up with next. Today, I’d like to share one of her projects with you, and at the same time give you an example of some of the amazing creativity in art education going on in Germany.

The elementary school that our boys attend here in Berlin specializes in early childhood mathematics.  Mathematical concepts permeate every subject the children learn.  Accordingly, when asked to teach an after-school art class, Stephanie came up with an idea called “Mathematischen Phänomenen auf der Spur” (Tracking down Mathematical Phenomena”).  In this class, math and art came alive to the children as they crafted geometric bodies and drew pictures illustrating the cool things one can do with a little mathematical knowledge.

Here are just a few of the things the children made and learned:

 Geometry: They learned all about triangles and how to make them into three-dimensional objects such tetrahedons, pyramids, and other geometric bodies.

Two dimensional triangles make a star of David, but that's not all . . . 

add a few more and they become a 3-D polyhedron.

These children are happily cutting and pasting triangles . . . 

to make an icosahedron!

Exponential growth: They drew number trees to visually explore this concept.  The trunk of the tree is a one. The child then draws two branches that are marked with a two. Then each branch gets two more smaller branches that are marked with four and each of them get two more until you end up with  . . . Voila!

An impressive number tree!

Examples of student work.

And number flowers, too: The middle is one, then you add five petals, and then two more to each of the five and so on.

The little artist here working on his number flower just happens to belong to me!

Perspective, horizons and vanishing points: They explored these concepts by drawing pictures with vanishing lines and placing objects such as streets, trains and trees within the vanishing lines. (My son’s perspective skills improved immensely after doing this exercise a few times with Steffi.) 

And this is only the tip of the iceberg!  If you would like to know more or use some of Stephanie’s curriculum ideas, please feel free to contact her.

Remember "art" is the root word of "start"!


  1. Hi Sheila, I just wrote a post listing blogs with great ideas for observing Lent and I was happy to feature you! You can see the post here:

  2. I am incredibly poor at math..I always have been. I was even tested for learning disabilities when I was in college (for math.) I have struggled my entire life, and missed a passing mark on my state wide standardized teacher exams by 3 points. 3 points!
    I think if I was presented math in a way such as what you are so beautifully doing, my success would have been greater. There are so many different learning styles---not every student grasps such complicated information in the same way another does. :):)

  3. Rebecca, I was really terrible at math, too, and feel that it had mostly to do with the limited teaching methods at the time. That's probably why I get so excited now about educational methods that speak to all the learning styles.: )

  4. Thanks, Leslie! Can't wait to see your Atrium posts this month!