Exploring the Protractor – Wild Math Style

This week we started our Angles unit. Inspired by Wild Math Curriculum, I wanted to be able to teach how to read a protractor as well as be able to understand the angles well enough to measure items outside. I’ve found in prior years, students may know what an acute angle is or a 90 degree angle, but forget how to read or measure angles on an actual protractor.

With a goal of wanting them to use their hand outside, we made hand prints in the morning before our writing lesson to allow them to dry before math.

Next, I wanted them to practice the previous lesson of creating a vertex on their palm, then drawing out points at the end of each finger. They drew line segments or rays using a ruler and then measured the angles. Depending on how their fingers naturally laid flat, changed the angle, no two hands were the same.

We worked indoors observing the protractor. I asked the students share what the could see. One student said it was kind of like a number line – and then asked if this was why we have been spending so much time learning how to read number lines. 🙂 Another noticed that a protractor is round, and we are measuring lines of angles. This led to noticing that it was a half circle, and a child saying it was ‘like a 180’, which got them to look at the numbers. One noticed that the numbers jumped by 10’s and we skip counted the line to 180.

I asked a volunteer to choose a point on the number line that would create an acute angle. 44 was chosen and created. Another student noticed that if we had gone the other way her angle would be obtuse and be 136. What made me smile is their surprise when we added 44 and 136 and the answer was and exclaimed, “It would be 180!!”

We brought out our hand paintings and compared them to the protractor on the board.

Our next lesson was to be able to name angles, and see the letters. After working on our book lesson fora moment we labeled our hands – Palm V for vertex, then Thumb, Index, Middle, Ring and Pinky.

In just 45 minutes, the entire class was talking in vocabulary that let me know that they really understood the protractor and how to use it to measure angles. We were able to take that knowledge outside. Stay tuned for the next post!

Thank you Wild Math Curriculum for inspiring our outdoor geometry lessons!

Disclaimer – I am writing these post as a volunteer to share with teachers. I purchased this 4th grade curriculum. If you want to be inspired, check out Wild Math, Wild Schooling, Forest Schooling, Nature Schooling, or Outdoor Learning tags on Instagram – or me, Pebblekeeper!

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