Math = Love: Celebration of Mind Day (aka Hexaflexagon Day)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Celebration of Mind Day (aka Hexaflexagon Day)

October 21st was Celebration of Mind Day.  Celebration of Mind Day is a holiday that honors Martin Gardner and his contribution to recreational mathematics.  This was the first day my students came back from Fall Break.  So, they had been out of school for five entire days.  I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to expand their horizons and show them a side of mathematics that they maybe hadn't seen before.

We talked about who Martin Gardner was.  He did not invent the hexaflexagon, but he did tell the world about it.  I first learned about hexaflexagons when I was in the tenth grade.  My sister was in the seventh grade at the time, and she got to make one in her math class.  I was a tad jealous, and I was also extremely frustrated.  I couldn't figure out how to make it work!  And, she made it look so easy.

Last year, I made my first hexaflexagon with my Algebra 1 students, and I instantly fell in love.  I could probably sit for hours and play with a hexaflexagon!

If you want to host your own hexaflexagon party, there are all the resources you could ever need here.  And, here is a link to PDF templates to make your own trihexaflexagon or hexahexaflexagon.  

We started our discussion of hexaflexagons by watching a Vi Hart video.

My students were amazed.  Of course, they instantly wanted to make one.  I printed off templates for a trihexaflexagon.  I have found that the best way to ensure success is to tell students to cut out their template and to double crease (once each way) each fold.  If students do this, they will be MUCH less frustrated.  And, their teacher is, therefore, much less frustrated!

After showing students how to assemble their hexaflexagons, I got the amazing opportunity to show students how to make their hexaflexagons work.  I always let students try to figure out how to work them on their own.  After all, they have seen a video of how it works.  But, most students need someone to show them where to pinch and how to open up the center of their hexaflexagon.  My favorite thing to do is to watch students' faces the first time they are able to open up the center of their hexaflexagon.  Their expression is PRICELESS.  I want to find a way to see that expression more on a day-to-day basis as we are learning algebra.

After creating their hexaflexagons, we watched the Hexaflexagon Safety Guide because it shows a lot of cool ways to decorate your hexaflexagon.  Plus, who wouldn't want to see a hexaflexagon made out of a tortilla?

The day after we made our hexaflexagons, one of my students came back to tell me that she had stayed up late watching all of Vi Hart's videos.  Her words: "Math is fun!"  

To those of you who will say that I wasted a day of instruction with my Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 students, I would beg to differ.  I wasn't hired just to teach math.  I was hired to change lives, to inspire students.  I have a group of Algebra 1 students from last year who come to visit me multiple times a week.  When they realized it was Hexaflexagon Day, they almost all told me that they still had their hexaflexagon from last year.  This is something they will remember for a long time.  I can't say the same about worksheet or a quiz.  

My Hexa-Hexaflexagon and My Tri-Hexaflexagon

One of my Statistics students is an amazing artist.  This was her creation.  I am inspired by it, and I just had to share!  Isn't this just gorgeous?  She puts my hexaflexagon to shame.


  1. You are an amazing teacher! I love your blog and all your fantastic ideas. Thanks for taking the time to write about what you are doing. I look forward to your new entries.

    1. Thank you for your oh so kind words!

    2. I have a tough time getting through to my Geometry class sometimes, they tend to resist engaging activities; they loved hexaflexagons! Thank you so much for your blog!

    3. That is awesome to hear! (By the way, you e-mailed me a while back, and my reply keeps bouncing back. If you still are interested in the file you requested, please send me a different e-mail address._