Look Up! Numbers, Colours and Shapes in Architecture
Little Hare, 2018
48pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99
For the most part, our children are surrounded by buildings – manmade structures that are carefully designed and constructed to be as aesthetically pleasing as they are functional. In this book, with the help of a little snail who carries is building on his back, young readers are encouraged to take a closer look at the features of these buildings and discover numbers, colours and shapes.
Using 18 well-known buildings from around the world such as the Tate Modern in London, St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow and the Seattle Central Library, the various features are pointed out using a minimum of words – those that have been used are explained using colour or shape or numbers – as the visual elements of each are the most important. Very young readers can use these clues to find the parts of the building that matches them while starting to build the basic maths concepts.
In the late 1980s maths trails were a much-loved phenomenon to help students understand the concepts of number and shape as they were encouraged to find examples of each in their environment as they followed a set of clues. They loved the investigative nature of the quest, being in the outdoors and the challenge of completing their task before another team. Students from Kindy to Year 6 could be found exploring their environment, eagerly talking numbers, shapes, measurement and other maths concepts So this book would be the ideal precursor to revitalising that activity. Older students could use it as a model for developing their own maths trail around the school or local area.
For those who have an emphasis on STEM its application is broad – creating models of the buildings featured or being challenged to construct buildings that feature four red towers that are pyramids (for example). A double-page spread at the end identifies all the featured buildings so others might like to map the locations of the buildings and plan a journey to visit them, costing it for future reference.
Sometimes the seemingly simplest of books offer the greatest wealth of ideas – and this is up there. If nothing else, the book demonstrates that we are surrounded by mathematics – it’s not just something confined to a slot in the school timetable.