This radian arts and crafts activity is designed to help students conceptually understand what a radian is. As a bonus, it creates a beautiful, mathematical art display for your classroom. This is one of my most popular tweets of all time. People come to my blog searching for it frequently, but until today it has only lived on my twitter account.
One of my goals in teaching Pre-Calculus is that students will truly understand what a “radian” is. I don’t think I ever fully grasped this concept as a high school student, and as a result I had to spend a lot time memorizing things that I should have been able to reason through with a full understanding of the concept of a radian.
This activity is just the first of many designed to get students “thinking in radians” instead of constantly having to convert back and forth between radians and degrees.
I created an arts and crafts project for my students to complete that hopefully helped set the stage for really understanding what a radian is. When students entered my classroom, they saw trays of yarn and the agenda read “Radian Arts and Crafts.”
I typed up a sign that read “What does 1 radian look like?” I hung it on my SmartBoard since that’s all it is really good for. My school is transitioning from Smartboards to 65″ flat screen televisions. Since my classroom was one of the first to get a television, the projector hooked to my Smartboard was removed to use in another classroom whose projector had died.
The night before, I had googled for free circular mandala coloring pages. I printed off a bunch of different ones for students to choose from.
We walked through an example in our notes of how to construct a radian using yarn and scissors. We practice cutting three pieces of yarn the length of the radius of our circle. We glued one piece of yarn down as the radius.
We glued the next piece of yarn around the circumference of the circle (touching the original piece of yarn at one end). Then, we glued the third piece of yarn down as a second radius.
After doing this example together as a class in our notes, I wanted students to really internalize what a radian was by constructing a second radian by themselves. That’s where this arts and crafts project comes in.
Each student selected a circular mandala of their choice. They were various sizes, so students had to make sure they were using the measurement of their radius to cut the three pieces of yarn.
After students had cut their three radii, they had to glue down the yearn to construct their radian.
We used a mix of stick glue and liquid glue. Both worked. Results varied depending on how patient students were to get everything glued down properly.
Once the radian was constructed, their job was to color in their radian.
We lined our completed radians/circles along the dry erase board tray to dry.
Some students were very careful to line up their radian yarn pieces with the part of their mandala they wanted to color. Check out the bird below!
Some students wanted to spend quite a bit of time on the decorating stage. Others rushed through it.
At the end of the day after all of the radians had dried, I taped them to my non-working SmartBoard around the poster that reads “What does 1 radian look like?”
Students loved coming in the next day and finding theirs. They also had to ooh and ahh over all the other cool designs from other classes.
My Algebra 2 students were very sad that my other classes were getting to do arts and crafts while they had to learn about set notation.
I printed my circular mandalas on a mix of white and gray cardstock. You definitely want to pick something neutral.
Some of my students wanted to color all of the circle minus a radian. I didn’t let them…
This made a super easy and colorful room decoration that I was able to leave hanging up in my classroom for quite awhile.
Eventually, the humidity did start getting to the tape I had used to tape the mandalas to the SmartBoard. Every day, I would pick one or two circles up off the ground. Eventually, I just had to take them all down.
Stapling them to a bulletin board would make for a much more long-lasting display.
Free Download of What Does 1 Radian Look Like? Poster
Inspiration from Other Teachers
I’ve loved all of the pictures teachers have shared with me via twitter after trying this activity with their own students!