Parent Prompt: Can you find a right angle?

• PRESCHOOLERS/EARLY ELEMENTARY
• EARLY MATH
• CRITICAL THINKING

WHAT: Look around… there are right angles everywhere. That table, book, sidewalk all have right angles. See if your child can find them. And then talk about how they figured out what was a right angle or not. You can have them test their answers by putting their hands into an “L” shape or by taking the corner of a piece of paper to see if it is truly a right angle. Sometimes an angle might look like it’s ‘right’ but then when you test it, you see that the edges are rounded or it’s not truly 90 degrees. If that happens, talk about why it isn’t really a right angle.

Make this a hunt: how many can you find? With more than one child, see who can find the most. Point out angles that are obviously not right angles (if you remember your geometry, they’re acute or obtuse angles) and ask them to check and see if they are right angles – and maybe even what would it take to make them right.

WHERE: Pretty much anywhere! In a store, on a walk, in your kitchen. Every where you look you are likely to find a right angle – and that’s what makes this a particularly fun activity.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

WHO: You can do this with children as young as preschool age, in fact it might be the most fun with younger kids. With younger kids, you don’t have to talk about concepts like “90 degrees” but can instead use a word like ‘corner.’ With older children you can take the conversation to the next level by asking them to talk about the shapes they see with or without right angles. For example, if they point out a right angle in a rectangle, ask them to count how many angles they see in the shape, and then ask them to name the shape.

WHY: You may think right angles are something that kids can’t comprehend until they’re much older, but actually, these early years are a great time to get them engaged in mathematical thinking. By playing a game like this, you are getting your child to notice that geometry and math are all around us. When math becomes fun and part of our daily lives at an early age, it can seem less intimidating as they grow older and learn more complex concepts. And when you are engaging in questions about the properties of something, like what makes a right angle a right angle, you are helping to refine their critical thinking skills.