Week 7: Cartesian Coordinates

This week learners can get hands on with plotting. I encourage learners to investigate the history behind the Cartesian Coordinates (it’s interesting – I was just reading about it in Infinite Powers by Steven Strogatz).

The idea is to plot with D&D figures, chalk, legos, or watercolors. Make art out of plots! This is a great activity for pre-algebra and algebra students. Younger students can learn as well but can focus more on finding ordered pairs (x,y). Below are four activities for plotting:

Activity 1: Hit the monster (game it up!)

  • Use a gridded mat (like what is used in D&D), large graph paper or overhead projector
  • Draw Axes on the grid and define the quadrants and scale
  • Place or Draw monsters throughout the plane
  • Have students devise functions that can hit/intersect monsters
    • This can be timed or not timed
    • Students can work in teams
    • This can be a D&D math mission if you are gamifying your lessons
  • If there is only one or two learners then smaller graph paper can be used

Activity 2: Cartesian Lego

  • Decapitate as many minifigures as possible for this activity (other round 1×1 pieces will work as well.
  • My students used a large gray sheet and black flats for the cartesian coordinates
  • Make plots of various functions and then see if others can “name that function”

Activity 3: Watercolors (or other art media)

Create plot families using watercolor flash cards

  • add characters, color, and comics
  • label the backs with the family the plot belongs to.

Activity 4: Plotting in a large room

  • With masking tape in a large room you can make a grid
  • Have students plot functions with beanbags or rope
  • Students can toss a beanbag and then try to figure out the coordinates
  • This can work at an outdoor park if you can grid off an area without creating a tripping hazard

Week 6: Randomness using pi

Pi with Lux Blox

This week learners will create a work of art using pi. The goal here is not to understand pi, but to play with randomness. We will dive into the ratio of circumference and diameter on another week. Pi’s decimals go on forever and without pattern. Here are some ideas to play with that randomness:

  • Build a skyline with your favorite building toy using the digits of pi
  • Use graph paper and shade a skyline of pi
  • Assign a note from 0-9 on instruments or bells and have the learners play the digits in order to hear the randomness
    • Example: C = 0, D = 1, E = 2, F = 3, G =4, A = 5, B = 6, C = 7, D = 8, E = 9 (where you use more than an octave. You can also use sharps, flats, or skip notes)
    • You can also assign chords to each digit rather than notes
  • String or circle art with pi (you can do a circle with 10 points)
Pi using a circle with a point every 36 degrees
Students’ pieces


Welcome to Fractal Kitty! This website is under construction, so please bear with me as I get everything organized to post!

My children, an angora rabbit, and Ashland, OR trails

This website is meant to provide parents and teachers with resources, ideas for exploring, and ways to have fun with mathematics. I have found through the years that I get a lot of parents and students needing various forms of help in math. I started this website to share what has worked in my practice. Growth mindset is a core belief for me. I truly believe that mathematics is a field of study that anyone can grow in. It takes time, but that time can be fun, full of passion, and integrated with projects and application.