Celebrating our Geometric Earth Through Dance
Earth is the canvas and nature a geometric masterpiece.
Imagine the arch of a rainbow as it reflects a spectrum of light across a rain kissed sky or the crest of a wave before it crashes upon a shore of sand and shells.
Have you ever looked closely at the honeycomb of a honey bee and noticed the waxy grid of hexagonal prisms? Perhaps you've been mesmerized by the bilateral symmetry of a butterfly where the colour and design of their wings mirrors the other in perfect harmony?
Our beautiful earth is a collection of angles, lines, curves, and twists that is constantly transforming before our eyes. Over the course of day and night, and through the cycling of the four seasons, the land is never in a state of permanence.
How we experience our world often depends on our perspective. From a geometrical stance, being up close or far away from an object can change our relationship with it. Seeing a peaked mountain from a distance is very different from climbing the rugged terrain to its snowy summit. From far away it may look very small when in fact it could be thousands of feet tall. Moreover, a mountain range may look like a succession of triangles from afar while up close it is an assortment of lines, shapes, forms, and textures.
Developing a loving connection to the earth requires looking with curiosity and awe. Young children seem to do this innately by taking delight in the world around them. Yet, this tends to change as we age and accumulate distractions in our lives. We often need to be reminded to “stop and smell the roses” (and even witness their long thorny stems and delicate oval petals) rather than walk blindly by them.
One way to celebrate the earth is by providing students with a geometrical lens to look through and inviting them to demonstrate their findings through dance. In essence, they will become physical storytellers about the land they live on.
- Select a number of photographs to show students how nature is geometrical (e.g., rainbow, honeycomb, mountain range, tree rings, spider’s web, leaf, blade of grass).
- Have them describe the images using mathematical language.
- Ask them for other suggestions of geometry in nature such as what they see around their home, the school, at a park where they play, or a place they have visited.
- Divide students into small groups with approximately four students per group.
- Invite the groups to go on a scavenger hunt to discover their geometrical world. You will need to create an age-appropriate worksheet so they will know what to look for based on what they have been learning in math and what is in the area outdoors.
- Make sure that students are not just ticking off a box once they find something. They must also note what they found in nature (e.g., the spiral of a snail’s shell, the acute angle of tree branches) by using descriptive words or even drawing pictures.
- Invite the groups to create a short dance to celebrate the geometric earth they live on based on their scavenger hunt findings.
- They will only choose between four to six geometrical examples that they found. Encourage the students to choose ones that are contrasting (e.g., line and circle).
- Give the students time in their groups to create the dance. It does not need to be an exact replication of what they found on their scavenger hunt but rather a flowing representation of geometry in nature.
- Students can perform for each other and guess the geometry in the dance.
Imagine that a group of students discovered the straight lines of blades of grass, a round sun, acute angles of tree branches, and the spiral of a snail’s shell.
The students begin their dance by standing spaced apart in stillness with their arms held straight above their heads. They are blades of grass. Next, they bend slightly to the left and to the right as they respond to the wind. From there the students float into a circle and hold hands. They move the circle clockwise as they skip together as a group. They are the round yellow sun. Next, they let go of each other’s hands and twirl away to their own personal space where they stop moving. Each student performs an action to show they are growing deep roots into the ground and tall branches to the sky. The tree branches have acute angles. The students hold their shape in stillness. One student lets go of the tree shape and dances freely. A second student lets go of the tree shape and joins the dance. This continues until all students are dancing. To conclude the dance, they join hands and make a line. The student at the front of the line is the leader. They move through the space as if walking along a spiral pathway drawn on the ground. They are walking on the shell of the snail. They walk until they are in the centre of the spiral in a tight coil. The dance ends.
Traci L. Scheepstra, Ph.D., is the CEO/Founder of Embodied Learnings. Want to know more about her work in education? Read here!