I used to dread teaching conics but introducing these fun conic sections activities into my math classroom has made all of the difference. Read on to find hands-on and engaging ways to teach conic sections to your students.
My first experience teaching conic sections was during my first year of teaching. I was teaching Algebra 2, and I can vividly remember arranging my units during the school year so that conics came last because I was not looking forward to teaching conic sections.
I was always an excellent math student in high school. Usually, math came pretty easily to me, but the first time I ever remember having to study and work hard at math was Algebra 2. Matrices and Conic Sections were the topics that really taught me how to study and practice math.
As a first-year teacher, I was not looking forward to teaching this topic that I had found so difficult to understand and master as a student. Then, I discovered Cindy Johnson’s amazing Conic Cards.
I did exactly what she said to do every day for eight days, and by the end of our conics unit my students were declaring that conic sections were their favorite topic of the entire school year.
Over the years, I have taught conic sections to hundreds of other students in Algebra 2 and now Pre-Calculus since Oklahoma removed conics from the Algebra 2 curriculum. I still love and use Conic Cards, but I have added a number of other fun activities for teaching conic sections to my teaching toolbox.
Hopefully you can find an activity that will make your students love circles, hyperbolas, ellipses, and parabolas as much as my students do!
Teaching Students About Conic Sections
I love teaching conic sections, so I was super-excited to discover a set of instructions online for building a cone to help students visualize the four different types of conic sections. This made the perfect addition to our last unit of the year in Pre-Calculus – conics!
If you teach conic sections as part of Algebra 2 or Pre-Calculus, I am about to share a life-changing teaching method for you called Conic Cards. Conic Cards are the creation of Cindy Johnson, a National Board Certified Teacher in Oklahoma.
Your students will be classifying the equations of conic sections in no time with this fun and easy to use flow chart from Rebecka Peterson.
Download an entire unit’s worth of graphic organizers and foldables to use with your students in their interactive notebook while learning about the various conic sections.
Help your students to summarize and retain important information about each different conic section with this helpful conic sections foldable.
Conic Sections Practice Activities
Hyperbolas are always the hardest conic section for my students to master the skill of graphing. If the weather is suitable, this sidewalk chalk hyperbolas activity will have students graphing perfect hyperbolas in no time!
Paper Folding the Conic Sections
I decided to use this folding conic sections project to kick off our conics unit in Pre-Calculus. Over the last few years, I have learned how to create parabolas, ellipses, circles, and hyperbolas using paper folding.
I’m excited to introduce you to wax paper parabolas! Students loved making the parabolas, labeling them with the appropriate vocabulary, and gluing the result in their interactive notebooks.
Learn how to use paper folding to create an ellipse.
Learn how to use paper folding to create a hyperbola.
Once your students have created all of the conic sections by paper folding, have them turn it into a conics poster project!
More Activities for Teaching Conic Sections
- Fun Conic Sections Activities
- Conics Patty Paper Poster Project
- Folding Conic Sections Project
- Building a Cone to Visualize Conic Sections
- Paper Folding a Hyperbola
- Paper Folding an Ellipse
- Hands-On Archaeology Geometry Activity
- Conic Sections Foldable
- Sidewalk Chalk Hyperbolas Activity
- Conic Sections Foldables and Graphic Organizers
- Classifying Conic Sections Flow Chart
- Wax Paper Parabolas
- Using Conic Cards to Teach Conic Sections in 8 Days
- Hands-On Circumference Activity