Geoboard Art on Natural Wood

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This post is part of a blog series Amazing Math Art Project for Kids, hosted by Karyn Tripp at Teach Beside Me. The blog series is in conjunction with the launch of the book Math Art & Drawing Games for Kids.

Ever since a preschool conference I attended this past summer, I’ve been inspired to bring more natural elements into my home and classroom. A few weeks ago, a fellow preschool teacher brought some “tree cookies” to school for the kids to use to play and build. In case you’re only familiar with the edible kind of tree cookie, let me explain a little further. A tree cookie is a tree stump or limb cut into this slices. At preschool, my students enjoyed building, imagining, and experimenting with them. As I watching my class play with the natural wood, I also realized the tree cookies would be a great way for my own kids to enhance their math skills by making a geoboard!

The conference I attended also drew my attention to some life skills kids are missing today. Due to many factors (safety concerns, modern comforts, and lack of access), our kids are growing up not gaining skills that were part of everyday life two generations ago. Building something we need is one of those skill. Most items can be picked up from a store, instead of us needing to take time to make them on our own. So while my mom and dad grew up using a hammer and nails, my own kids could be lacking in this once common skill. I thought making our own geoboard was a perfect way for them to practice this skill, and have something to play with after!

DIY Natural Wood Geoboard! My sons and I built our own geoboard using natural wood and nails. Then we used our geoboard to create beautiful artwork.

Building our Geoboard

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1 tree cookie
1 pencil
1 ruler
1 packet of upholstery tacks

STEP 1: Make a 1 inch grid on the face of the tree cookie.

  • Draw a horizontal line on the face of the tree cookie.
  • Starting at the left end, dot the line every 1 inch.
  • At the first dot, draw a line perpendicular to the first line, all the way down the tree cookie.
  • Draw another horizontal line 1 inch below the previous line, making sure it is parallel to the line above it.
  • Draw a dot where the perpendicular and second horizontal line intersect, and every inch down the horizontal line from there.
  • Continue to draw and dot lines 1 inch apart, all the way down the tree cookie.
Make a grid first to create a geoboard.

STEP 2: Add nails. Hammer a nail into the tree cookie at each dot from STEP 1. All my sons joined in hammering the nails in. They used their pincer grasp to hold onto the tiny nails, then carefully hammered each nail into the wood.

My kids using a hammer and nails. Great fine and gross motor practice!

STEP 3: With all the nails in, our natural wood geoboard was complete!

Our finished geoboard!

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Creating art on our Geoboard

With our geoboard complete, my 3 year old wanted to play with it first. So I gave him this bag of colorful rubber bands, and he started creating.

3 year old working on the geoboard.

He also practiced naming the shapes, each time he made one. Here’s his creation!

3 year old artwork!

Then my oldest son joined in on the fun and created his own design. When he was finished, we calculated the area of different parts of his creation.

Oldest boy's geoboard artwork.

And I even created my own art piece later that day!

Mom's geoboard design.

We’ve all had fun playing with our natural wood geoboard (the kids are even fighting over it!). Everyone in the family has created their own beautiful designs, while practicing shapes and exploring geometry!

For more ideas to using math and art together, be sure to try Karyn Tripp’s new book “Math Art & Drawing Games for Kids“. Also be sure to visit some of the other bloggers involved in this blog series here!