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Fractal Math Activities for Kids

Instructor: Tawnya Eash

Tawnya has a master's degree in early childhood education and teaches all subjects at an elementary school.

Are your students learning about fractals in math? Check out this lesson plan, which is packed with fun and engaging ways to teach your students about fractals or repeating patterns in math.

Fractals in Math

Fractals, or repeating patterns, are everywhere in nature, science, and math. The activities described in this lesson are specifically geared toward fractals in math and deal mostly with geometry; they can be adapted to meet the needs of your students as well as your own preferences.

Fractal Activities for Kids

What is a Fractal?

Working in groups of 2-3, students will learn and share what they know about fractals in math with this activity.

Materials

  • Computers for research
  • Texts on fractals
  • Notebooks
  • Pencils
  • Poster paper
  • Markers, crayons, colored pencils
  • Pictures of fractals

Procedure

  • Explain to students that fractals can be found in a variety of places. Show students examples and have them discuss what elements the fractals have in common.
  • Have students research some fractals that are found in geometry. Ask them to find pictures and information about the following types of fractals:
    • Koch curve fractals
    • Mandelbrot fractals
    • Sierpinski triangle fractals
  • Allow students time to complete their research and note taking.
  • When students have compiled all of their information, they can write/type their reports. The reports should include hand-drawn or downloaded pictures of fractals shown on a poster or in a PowerPoint or Google slide presentation.
  • Have the groups present their findings to the class: one or two each day can help to avoid redundancy.

Fractal Search

Use this nature search to demonstrate how math and science are intertwined.

Materials

  • Observation sheets or notebooks
  • Pencils
  • Access to a wooded area outside of school or a collection and/or pictures of items from nature, such as seashells, fern leaves, and pinecones.

Procedure

  • Ask students what types of things they see outdoors on their way to school, and discuss fractals in nature.
  • Explain how the repetition of patterns they see in fractals in math can also appear in nature and science.
  • Depending on your surroundings, take students outside to search and observe fractals in nature. As an alternative, display some items and/or pictures around the classroom for students to examine.
  • Students must record the following information during their search:
    • What is the object?
    • What is the repeating pattern?
    • Where else might this object be found?
  • When the search is complete, discuss the findings as a class, with an emphasis on the repeating geometric patterns found in nature.

Fractals and Geometry

Students get to explore fractions and geometry with this fraction tree activity.

Materials

  • Rulers
  • Pencils
  • Drawing paper
  • Colored pencils, markers, crayons

Procedure

  • Model how to draw fraction trees to show students how geometry and fractions can go together:
    • Begin by drawing a ''Y'' shape on the board, as shown in the image.
    • Create more ''Y'' branches on your ''tree'' by dividing or splitting the ''branches'' or diagonal lines until you have at least eight or 16 small branches.
    • Finally, draw a leaf at the end of each branch.
  • When students are familiar with the process, give them time to draw their own fraction trees, individually or in pairs.
  • Discuss the various fractions that could be shown with the trees.
  • Finally, discuss how trees may not be exactly symmetrical in nature, like the fraction trees drawn in class.


Fraction Tree Example: One of Four Main Branches Equals 1/4
Fraction Tree

Multiplying Fractals

Students will construct their own triangular pyramids to explore the powers of 4.

Materials

  • Box of toothpicks
  • Bag of gumdrops or mini marshmallows
  • Notebook
  • Pencils

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