Serious Shapes: What’s a Polygon?

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what's a polygon
Lots of different shapes can be referred to as Polygons. (Source: Quartl)

There is a multitude of shapes that your child will learn over the years. One group of shapes is known as a polygon. Knowing the answer to what’s a polygon is an important introduction to the idea of shapes. A polygon is a flat or two-dimensional shape. Learning shapes is an important factor in maths and allows for children to be able to visually understand their world. Not only that, but shapes like polygons can also be used to demonstrate complex mathematical concepts and operations with older children. With younger children, shapes are a creative way of introducing sequences and learning patterns in maths. Polygons open up a wealth of opportunities to teach children and help them absorb maths in a fun and dynamic way. Answering ‘What’s a polygon?’ has never been easier. 

What’s a Polygon?

Learning the answer to what’s a polygon has never been easier with the incredible content available online. Introducing your child to different shapes is one of the first things they will learn as toddlers, and it also serves as an introduction to more complex mathematical concepts. But what’s a polygon exactly? The definition of a polygon is a flat two-dimensional shape, otherwise known as a 2D shape with straight sides that are fully closed. What makes a polygon unique is that all the sides of a polygon must be joined up and the sides of it must always be straight. Even though they have to be fully joined up, polygons can have any number of sides. There doesn’t have to be a set number or even a set shape. This means there are some fantastic looking polygons available. 

Not only do polygons have this incredible array of properties, but there are also two types of polygons: the regular polygon and the irregular polygon. These have slightly different properties and are fascinating in their own right. The regular polygon is a shape where all of its sides are the same length and also have the same angle. It’s a shape that seems to follow all the rules: everything is the same measurements. Irregular polygons are a little trickier. The irregular polygon is a bit funkier as they have sides that are all different lengths and a variety of different angles. What unites the two is that they are all straight and joined up.

While polygons may sound slightly abstract and not anything we’ve ever heard of before, they’re very common shapes. Typical polygons include things like quadrilaterals with four sides, triangles with three sides, pentagons which have five sides, hexagons which have six sides, heptagons with seven sides, octagons which have eight sides, nonagons with nine sides, and decagons which have a whopping ten sides. These are all shapes that play an active role in objects we have in daily life. Polygons are some of the first shapes toddlers are introduced to through tactile play, learning how to fit shapes into shapes as well. Learning the answer to what’s a polygon allows children to equate these things that they’ve learned in early childhood and apply them to other mathematical concepts and operations as they grow older.

Teaching children the answer to what’s a polygon can be a creative and fun process and there is plenty of content online, be it video or written, to help you convey these processes to your children. There are some facts that make teaching your children these things easier. Things like a regular quadrilateral is actually a fancy name for a square. There are also a variety of triangles to learn from. Things like an equilateral triangle is a traditional or regular triangle that we would be used to seeing. A right-angle triangle or an isosceles triangle is, however, lovely examples of not only irregular triangles but also irregular polygons. Children will never be bored as there is a wide variety of shapes to learn from and to enjoy.

2D Shape Properties: What’s a Polygon?

When talking about regular polygons, one of their major features is that they are all the same length. This also translates into their internal angles. All the internal angles of a regular polygon are equal. The size of each interior angle of a regular polygon can be calculated through an equation that is important to remember: (N-2) x 180 ÷ N. N stands for the number of sides on the shape. A great example you could use to demonstrate this could be: (5-2) x 180 ÷ 5. This will then lead you to multiple 3 by 180 and get 540. To achieve your final answer, divide 540 by 5 and your final answer will work out as 108. Using this equation makes working with polygons even easier to explain to children.

There are also important details surrounding polygons that are vital for children to learn about. Teaching children tasks like what is a perimeter or other three-dimensional shapes and their properties can also help them make sense of geometric shapes as a whole. Using creative content to delicately instruct and inspire your children is a great way of helping them engage with mathematical concepts and operations. There are plenty of fascinating ways to help your children get to grips with shapes that are polygons and engage them in the material. Knowing that polygons are two-dimensional is a starting point for them to engage with. Another suggestion is to gently ease them into polygons by beginning with regular polygons and slowly introducing them to irregular polygons. Mathematics doesn’t have to be boring and showing them the incredible ways that math and the different topics that surround it all interlink is a great way of demonstrating its importance.

What’s a polygon can be a complex question but with the variety of materials available for educators, parents, and guardians, helping your children learn about these shapes can be an entertaining experience. Polygons are a useful educational tool as well as they can be used as a math resource for people teaching basic math concepts to complex mathematical formulas. Teaching children to spot patterns and teaching them how to utilise them can allow them to understand future math issues. What’s a polygon is more than just learning about shapes, but learning how to deal with complex math operations.

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