Geoboards are great for hands-on geometry fun. I wanted to geoboard activities at home, but I knew that simply placing a geoboard and a handful of rubber bands out on the table might not elicit the most exciting response from my kids. It would be more fun, not to mention more mathy, if we made our own board.
Of course, you can always buy a geoboard, and there are some great tutorials available for adults who want to build their own using wood and power tools, but I wanted something simpler, with materials easily available, that the kids could create on their own.
I had a small, unused corkboard lying around, so I chose that as my geoboard base. I gave my son a bowl full of pushpins and a small rubber mallet (hammering!) and instructed him to pound the pushpin into the corkboard in whatever design he wanted.
If you want a more traditional geoboard, like the one pictured, you can measure out a traditional grid on the corkboard and have the kids pound the pins in at the grid points. Or you can do it both ways! That’s the beauty of this DIY geoboard – you can change it up as you like! If you have younger children and find pushpins too small and sharp, you can make a simple geoboard using Styrofoam and golf tees.
Have lots of rubber bands available (the colored ones are especially fun), and set the kids free. They will naturally explore with the rubber bands and create shapes – some that they’re familiar with and some that might be new to them (or you!).
Name the shapes they create. You can provide guidance along the way. Can they make a shape with 3 corners? Can they make a square? Can they make two different triangles? How about a shape with more than 4 sides?
Older kids can explore perimeter and area on the geoboards. Give them dimensions and let them come up with the shape, or vice versa. Younger kids will be more interested in the process of stringing the rubber bands across the pins, and that’s okay! They’re working on fine motor skills as they create. If you have a car or truck-loving kid in your house, challenge them to make a road or a maze on the geoboard for their vehicles to drive through.
While most kids will start out exploring shapes, it’s fun to see them move into more abstract designs or other artful creations. Math is an art, after all, and what better way for kids to experience this concept than to turn their own geometrical creations into art?
When you’re done with your geoboard, be sure to stretch your mind with this rubber band daily math problem!
Photo courtesy of Angie Six