Using a Geoboard in Math

Activities with the Geoboard

Child in front of a chalkboard
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A geoboard is a math manipulative used to support early geometric, measurement, and numeracy concepts. A geoboard is a square board with pegs to which students attach rubber bands. If geoboards aren't handy, you can also use dot paper, although it doesn't make learning quite as enjoyable for the students. Geo-boards come in 5 by 5 pin arrays and in 10 by 10 pin arrays. Initially, a conversation needs to occur about the appropriate use of rubber bands when using geoboards. Those students who can't use rubber bands appropriately will use the dot paper instead. Once this is known, students tend to make good use of the geoboard rubber bands.

Here are some questions for the 5th grade that has students representing figures while also developing concepts about measurement, specifically area. In order to determine if students have understanding, have them hold up their geo-boards each time they've completed the question.

15 Questions for the Geo-board

1. Show a triangle that has an area of one square unit.

2. Show a triangle with an area of 3 square units.

3. Show a triangle with an area of 5 square units.

4. Show an equilateral triangle.

5. Show an isosceles triangle.

6. Show a scalene triangle.

7. Show a right triangle with an area of more than 2 square units.

8. Show 2 triangles that have the same shape but that are different sizes. What is the area of each?

9. Show a rectangle with a perimeter of 10 units.

10. Show the smallest square on your geoboard.

11. What is the largest square you can make on your geoboard?

12. Show a square with 5 square units.

13. Show a square with 10 square units.

14. Make a rectangle with an area of 6 and state what the perimeter is.

15. Make a hexagon and determine the perimeter.

These questions can be modified to meet learners at various grades. When introducing the geoboard, begin with an exploring type of activity. As the comfort level increases when working with geoboards, it is useful to have students begin transferring their figures/shapes to dot paper. To extend some of the questions above, you can also include concepts like which figures are congruent, which figures have 1 or more lines of symmetry. Questions like this should be followed up with, 'How do you know?' which requires students to explain their thinking.

The geoboard is just one of many math manipulatives that can be used in math to support understanding of a concept. Math manipulatives help teach concepts in a concrete method which is preferred before attempting the symbolic format.