Serious Secrets of the Circle

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Travis was bit young for the lesson on Pi that accompanied his Jack-O’-Pot Pie recipe from Raddish Kids, but there were plenty of suggested activities for younger kids. Without the advanced math, you can still explore circles and their properties with those in Pre-k or kindergarten.

First, check out a copy of Lois Ehlert’s Color Zoo from the library. Go to the first page with a circle, and cover behind it with a piece of paper.

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Ask your child what animal it might be, then remove the white paper for the reveal of a tiger face. We went through the rest of the book, each animal’s face featuring a different shape.

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I reminded Travis how everything in the world is made up of shapes, but today we’d be focusing on circles… Circle detectives!

I set out a plate (itself a circle!) with other circular items on it, including a ring, coin, cucumber slice, and bottle cap. Other easy ideas would be a button, slice of orange, or wheel.

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I invited Travis to investigate the items. What did he notice? He noted how they all had no corners, they were round, they were flat (don’t use spheres like balls!) and they could spin or roll. He had helped define a circle!

With the detective work complete, it was time for circle art. I had pre-cut lots of different sizes and color circles from construction paper. His challenge was to make a picture or shape of something, but only using circles!

At first he seemed stumped. I showed him an animal face and we quickly decided it was a mouse.

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Once he had the idea, he began gluing down circles as a Star Wars space craft.

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But then when he saw there were more than just black circles to work with, he became excited and began piling them up. It turned out to be a building!

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You can use other materials like tin foil circles, wrapping paper, or tissue paper for embellishment. Have fun with this part!

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For extra circular art, I cut the bottom from a paper plate. The challenge was to cover this plate with red circles using only the end of a toilet paper tube as his paint brush, stamping only circles over it!

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He decided he liked his with some plate still showing through, but your kids might enjoy seeing how long it takes to completely cover the circle with, well, circles.

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Now we became detectives again. He selected two favorite books and we had a competition. Whose book had more circles in it? We marked each page with circles with a post-it note, then tallied them up. Mommy’s book won, with 21 pages of circles!

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(Note: you could also tally up every circle in the images, but this would have taken us into the 100s).

For some final fun, we extended the lesson into story time, reading the following:

  • So Many Circles, So Many Squares by Tana Hoban
  • Around the Park: A Book About Circles by Christianne Jones



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