Thinking Thursday: Pixel Graphics

“Prompt #65 Pixel Graphics” is an excerpt from 312 Things To Do with a Math Journal, available as an ebook at my bookstore (Thank you for cutting out the middleman!) and in ebook or paperback through many online retailers. Read more about my playful math books here.

Do you want your children to develop the ability to reason creatively and figure out things on their own?

Help kids practice slowing down and taking the time to fully comprehend a math topic or problem-solving situation with these classic tools of learning: See. Wonder. Create.

See: Look carefully at the details of the numbers, shapes, or patterns you see. What are their attributes? How do they relate to each other? Also notice the details of your own mathematical thinking. How do you respond to a tough problem? Which responses are most helpful? Where did you get confused, or what makes you feel discouraged?

Wonder: Ask the journalist’s questions: who, what, where, when, why, and how? Who might need to know about this topic? Where might we see it in the real world? When would things happen this way? What other way might they happen? Why? What if we changed the situation? How might we change it? What would happen then? How might we figure it out?

Create: Create a description, summary, or explanation of what you learned. Make your own related math puzzle, problem, art, poetry, story, game, etc. Or create something totally unrelated, whatever idea may have sparked in your mind.

Math journaling may seem to focus on this third tool, creation. But even with artistic design prompts, we need the first two tools because they lay a solid groundwork to support the child’s imagination.

How To Use a Math Art Prompt

When students learn to visualize shapes, designs, and patterns, it makes them better at math. Even topics like algebra can be surprisingly visual.

Art lets children experiment with geometric shapes and symmetries. They can feel their way into math ideas through informal play. As they draw, students explore a wide range of mathematical structures and relationships.

Math doodles allow a student’s mind to relax, wander, and come back to its work refreshed. And though it goes against intuition, doodling helps people remember more of what they learn.

And art is one of the most replayable of all types of journal prompts. Have you noticed how professional artists love to tinker with their creations? Even a slight change produces delightful new variations. Come back to each math art prompt and enjoy the adventure of exploring possibilities.

Journaling Prompt #65 Pixel Graphics

On graph paper, outline a square that is 8 × 8 grid spaces or larger. Make a black-and-white design by shading the grid squares. Each grid square represents one pixel, which must be totally filled or completely blank.
Or make a colored pixel design, with each square being one color.
Extra challenge: Use only two or three colors. What pictures can you make with such a limited palette?

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