' Dr Ell's Math Blog: The Inside of the Inside: a Cut and Paste Project

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Inside of the Inside: a Cut and Paste Project

     This is an activity for children who have enough dexterity to use scissors and enjoy craft projects. The objective is to take a page or part of a page from an old magazine and cut out a piece then cut out a second piece from the new piece. (Pictures follow.) The child can then create a collage with the pieces. The project can be either abstract– just a colored piece of paper or a page with an abstract design, or it can be fairly concrete– an object within an object.
     The point of the exercise may not be obvious, but it helps a young person learn about wholes and parts, relative locations, and that the pieces are smaller than the original whole– ‘the inside is smaller than the outside’ idea. It’s a project that blends math and art and also lends itself to further elaboration for little people that enjoy the activity. For instance, the number of insides can increase or the cut-out shapes can take on more complexity.
Step 1: Collect a piece of a magazine page, a sheet of plain paper, scissors and glue.

Step 2: Cut a piece from the magazine page. The page can be creased to make it easier to start the cutting process.

Step 3: Cut a smaller piece from the first cut-out.

Last Step: Paste the pieces on the paper sheet.

Here are a couple of examples of more 'concrete' designs: 

A note on the conservation of matter: Your little person can re-assemble the pieces before the glue-down step to begin to understand that cutting and taking out pieces doesn’t result in ‘more’ or ‘bigger’ except in the sense of ’spread apart’. This idea is much less obvious than you might think.
     More pieces, more complex design:  


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