What’s Your Angle?

by Laurie Laurendeau on February 22, 2011

Thinking back to your own school days, you may not have many warm and fuzzy feelings about geometry class. One way you can help your own children have a better experience is to start introducing the basics of geometry as you go about your everyday lives. If you’re wondering if this isn’t a bit early to be tackling the Pythagorean Theorem, read on.

What Is It?

It may surprise you to know that students actually begin learning about geometric angles as early as 2nd or 3rd grade. They often begin by exploring angles inside shapes, such as rectangles or triangles.  At this beginning stage of angles, students will learn about the 3 main types of angles:  right, acute and obtuse.  The skill of measuring angles with a protractor will come in later grades.


•                Right Angles:  Show your child that a right angle looks like a perfect corner, or an “L.”  Be sure to mention that the “L” is sometimes backwards or even upside down!

•                Try looking around the room for examples of right angles.  Your child will likely find several examples such as the corner of a book, the corner of a room or the corner of a tissue box.

•                Try making a right angle with your two hands. Or, make a right angle with objects such as 2 pencils or 2 rulers.

•                Explain to your child that angles are measured in something called degrees.  Be sure to point out that these are not the same kind of degrees that we use to measure temperature.  Point out that a right angle measures 90 degrees.

•                Acute Angles: Draw an acute angle on a piece of paper (an angle less than 90 degrees).  Draw the angle in the corner to show where the angle is located.  Ask if this angle is larger or smaller than the right angles you have investigated.  He should see that it is smaller.  Tell him this type of angle is called an acute angle.

•                Say the word acute in a baby voice, so your child associates the word acute with something that’s little or “cute.”

•                Have your child make acute angles with his 2 pencils or 2 rulers.

•                Tell your child that acute angles are smaller than 90 degrees, or smaller than right angles.

•                Obtuse Angles: Draw an obtuse angle (angle larger than 90 degrees but less than 180 degrees) on a piece of paper.  Draw the angle in the corner to show your child where it is located.  Ask him to compare the obtuse angle to the right and acute angles.  He should say something like “The obtuse angle is bigger than the acute angle and the right angle.” Tell him this large angle’s name is an obtuse angle.

•                Say the word obtuse in a deep monster voice, so your child associates obtuse with something very big.

•                Have your child make obtuse angles with his 2 pencils or 2 rulers.

•                Tell your child that obtuse angles are angles that are larger than 90 degrees (or larger than right angles), but smaller than a straight line.

What to Watch For

•                Children sometimes get confused when they see angles that are “upside down”… angles whose openings point downwards instead of upwards.  Be sure to present all 3 types of angles in various positions on the paper so that they get used to seeing them in a variety of ways.

•                Be sure your child is looking at the smaller side of the angle, and not the reflex angle (the angle that is larger than 180 degrees).

As you begin pointing out angles and making them a normal part of life, they will become a familiar, comfortable concept to your child—one that he will carry with him into his further studies.

Want More?

•                Have questions or ideas about this story? Want to share something that has worked for you?

•                Need help or advice about your child’s learning?

•                Have ideas for future Parent Homework Help stories?

Go to “Leave a Reply” at the bottom of this page.  I’d love to help!

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