Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Fabulous Flexagon

I love introducing students to FLEXAGONS!

Flexagons are Fabulous!

Flexagons are flexible hexagons.

Flexagons can be successfully made and flexed by almost any middle schooler if they want to give it a try. I've seen an entire class of 5th graders get caught up in Flexagon Fury!

A Flexagon in a seemingly flat piece of cut and folded paper that has hidden surfaces. When you pinch and flex, you can get the hidden sides to show up.

The easiest one is called the Trihexaflexagon. It has three surfaces, made of triangles (Tri) that fold to form a hexagon shape.

Click here for the simplest blank TriHexaFlexagon I could find. You can play with this yourself and by making one and color coding or number coding each face, you can backtrack to where you have numbers 1, 2, 3 on the sides that make each individual hexagon and then your students can color them.

Or click here to see a colored one and add the numbers in this order.

Click here to see an animation of the flexing of one of these Fabulous Flexagons!

This is one thing I would recommend: making and learning yourself first. Once you are comfortable making Flexagons, you can convey that confidence to your students.

The other really simple Flexagon in the Tetraflexagon. This series is made of squares, not triangles. There is a Tritetraflexagon (three surfaces) and a Tetratetraflexagon (four surfaces).

Click here to see the Tritetraflexagon and click here for a pattern. I had trouble finding a good blank pattern. Here's a image. Use the image to make your own pattern (or buy a book of them!). Put the "back side" letters on the front in parentheses. The students put those numbers on the back after cutting out the pattern.

Click here to see the Tetratetraflexagon and click here for a pattern. I had trouble finding a good blank pattern on the Internet. Make your own pattern. When I've made them, I put the "other side numbers" on the front in parentheses. The kids knew to put them on the back after they cut it out.

Flexagons are one of those secrets that good teachers understand. It is when we give kids difficult things to accomplish and show them the tools for success, that kids gain the self-confidence they need to face the world.

In other words, give a kid a really hard thing to do! Show him/her how to do it. Then watch them smile!

CONSIDER THIS: Add Flexagons to your BONUS BAG!

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