Geometry Modeling Set From the Thrift Store

A couple of weeks ago, I had some time to kill between dropping my daughter off at a friend's home and picking up my son from musical rehearsal. So I decided to visit the local thrift store. I've made out well there over the years, picking up toys for the kids, a record player for my parents, and a variety of other items for the home. But on this day, I found myself drawn to the toy section. This is funny because my own children are (sadly) of an age where they have outgrown toys.

Scanning the shelves, there were a number of jigsaw puzzles, "well-loved" toys, and many games. Among the many boxes, I found this:

Over the past few months, I have spent many hours constructing polyhedra structures using straws and wire. Here are a few of my creations:

So when I came across the Discovery Kids 77-Piece Build & Play Construction Fort for the low-low price of $3.99, I just had to have it. Little did I know, it would quickly become a favorite source of mathematical play and discovery for both myself and my students.

I made the purchase on a Friday afternoon. While most people my age are spending a Friday afternoon at happy hour or sitting on the couch watching TV, I got right to building. This was my first creation:

... a "Pseudo-Rhombicuboctahedron". I didn't set out with this in mind as my first build, but it came as the result of play. Of course, my wife and kids think I'm crazy, but I spent a good part of the rest of the weekend exploring and playing more:

I enjoyed working with this set so much that I decided to purchase a second set:

Again, my wife and kids think I'm crazy, and they are probably right. But I also realized that these could become great resources for my geometry classes.

I got these sets right as our school was heading into mid-term review, a time of year that I find particularly frustrating because we are just reviewing for exams. But I am always trying to find different engaging activities that will hook the students.

So I put together a review and exploration TASK-LIST that uses the set:



Here are images of the shapes from the "Segments", "Angles", and "Plane Figures" tasks:

I'm excited to make this set one of my favorite manipulatives. And I am glad that I made that stop at the thrift shop!

As always, thanks for reading and thanks for your support!


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