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  • Writer's pictureLouise Worner

Geometry and Valentine’s Day

I’m always after sneaky ways to encourage my daughters to practice mathematics. My youngest daughter has been studying geometry at school and needed some help understanding different kinds of angles (acute, obtuse, right) and their gradients.

I have avoided teaching Kakei (the basic arrangements in the Sogetsu Ikebana curriculum) to my daughters. However, last week I was reminded that my ikebana teacher Ilse Beunen refers to Sogetsu Ikebana’s Variation 1 Upright as “the lovers”. With Valentine’s Day approaching, it was the perfect opportunity to teach one of the many Kakei to my daughter, while sneaking in a bit of maths revision.

The equipment- including a heart shaped vase for St Valentine's Day

Our choice of flowers isn’t typical of Valentine’s Day. Instead of roses, we chose Ranunculus and pussy willow, as both are easy for children to cut. She did, however, choose a heart shaped vase.

Cutting the pussy willow

To make the arrangement, my daughter cut the materials according to their specified lengths.

Measuring and drawing the three main angles.

To help her understand the gradients of the main branches and flower (Shin, Soe, and Hikae), we used a protractor to measure 15 degrees, 45 degrees and 75 degrees so that she could visualise the different sizes of the angles. We discussed how these are acute angles, and as she placed the pussy willow and Ranunculus in their appropriate positions on the kenzan, she was able to transfer the idea of two-dimensional angles into three-dimensional space.

Placing Shin and Soe

After placing the main stems, she added the support material, a small depth branch and some material to cover the kenzan.

Cutting flowers under water helps them to remain fresh for longer.

Placing Hikae and the support flowers- we used 5 as the Ranunculus were small.

Using Ranunculus leaves to hide the kenzan.

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