# Author Archives: Richard Thiessen

### What Does Twice as Big Mean?

I’m often puzzled by the way we use phrases like twice as big. What does that mean? For example, I understand that if my debt 5 years ago was $10,000 and today it’s $20,000, then my debt is twice as big today as it was 5 years ago. I also understand that if one two-by-four… Continue Reading

### Taking Apart and Putting Together Cubes

In earlier posts I’ve mentioned Friedrich Froebel and his geometric gifts. The third of his geometric gifts was a box containing eight cubes. Instead of the students simply opening the lid and dumping the cubes on the table, he would have the students place the box with the lid down on the table, slide the… Continue Reading

### Five Squares, One Square: Some Hints and an Extension

In an earlier blog post I proposed a puzzle made of five 2 by 2 squares, each of which had been cut along a line from a corner to the midpoint of an opposite side so as to form a right triangle and a trapezoid with two right angles. The challenge of the puzzle was… Continue Reading

### One Object Three Shapes: The Solution

In an earlier post, One Object Three Shapes, we posed the problem of finding an object that would appear to be a triangle when viewed in one way, a square when viewed in another way, and a circle when viewed in yet a third way. The challenge was to create an object that would fit… Continue Reading

### Five Squares, One Square

A while back I posted a five triangle puzzle that involved putting together five 30-60-90 triangles to form a single triangle. Of all of the dozens of puzzles that I own and have made over the years, that is one of my favorites because of the opportunities it provides for students to think about important… Continue Reading

### The Five Triangle Puzzle: Solutions

The Five Triangle Puzzle was the subject of a post back on February 11. I’m hopeful that some of you will have downloaded the pieces and solved the puzzle. The challenge was to put all five pieces together to form a triangle and then to determine if there were other triangles that could be formed… Continue Reading

### One Object Three Shapes: Circle Square Triangle

Front and back, top and bottom, and left and right are ideas that we use to describe objects in our three-dimensional world. Young children learn these positional words in Kindergarten. In fact, learning the meaning of these words is one of the Common Core Kindergarten geometry standards. In reality these are big ideas that are… Continue Reading

### Month, Day, Year: A Number Sequence

Daily journaling is one of the constants in my life. Over many years, I don’t believe there has been a single day when I did not make at least half a dozen entries in my journal. Each entry is dated, so on any given day I will write the date at least half a dozen… Continue Reading

### The Five Triangle Puzzle: Composing and Decomposing

Beginning in first grade and continuing through the grades, the Common Core Math Standards emphasize composing and decomposing shapes. One way to give students experience with composing shapes is through put-together puzzles. Actually, working at put-together puzzles involves lots of composing and decomposing. Sometimes what we compose is a solution; sometimes it’s not. While the… Continue Reading

### Frank Lloyd Wright, Froebel Geometric Gifts, and Hands-On Learning

This post is a continuation of the story of Froebel’s geometric gifts that was introduced in my previous post. I ended with a promise to tell a story about the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1876, when Wright was eight or nine years old, his mother attended the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. Wright describes in… Continue Reading