To help kids understand measuring angles, we start with quarter turns. Since I teach it after a unit on time measurement, I make the connection to starting at 12:00, and the minute hand stopping at 15, 30, 45, and back to 1. I explain that one difference between the angles and the clock is the hour hand moves slightly, while the angles stay at multiples of 90 degrees.
The first art project happens once we make the connection that two right angles, each 90 degrees, add up to 180. And the result is a straight line. We use drawing triangles to draw right angles and straight lines. But to get a feel for the movement and amount of space from one position to the next, we trace circles. Teaching tip: use yellow paper and at least half your students will be psyched to be making Pac Man during math class.
Measuring Angles Art
For our second art project, I give students two "lines" (strips of paper) and we practice rotating one of them around in a clockwise direction. Once they are glued we trace the the arcs again, and this time we label the degrees after measuring angles.
By introducing these 4 angle sizes, students were able to make pretty good initial estimates about angles that were "near 90," "near 180," "near 270" and "near 360." Before I even started teaching them how to line up and read a protractor, they were getting a sense of reasonable measurements of angles.
Measuring Angles Task Cards for Additional Practice
These art activities get kids excited before the hard work of using protractors for measuring angles to the nearest 5 degrees. My class used to struggle with this skill for one silly reason: laying a protractor across the spine of the workbook. It just didn't work! And since tearing out pages was another fine motor challenge they weren't prepared for, I realized in needed an alternative. So I made my own task cards!
These cards are great for measuring angles in isolation as well as within polygons. I even threw in a bonus for students to "discover" when it comes to adding up all the angles of like colors (hint: each set of like colored angles form a complete circle). I've had great success with these task cards since there are lots of examples for kids who need repeated practice, and adding up to 360 degrees is engaging enrichment for students who need more stimulation.
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