Knight Foundation Summer Institute

Jeffrey Tecosky-Feldmen, Haverford College

Jennifer Fisher, Bryn Mawr College


Patty Papers are squares that are waxed on one side and are used to separate hamburgers before they are cooked. Since these squares crease easily and leave a white mark on the area that is folded, they are ideal for studying geometry. The pieces of Patty Paper can be used to form many different two-dimensional shapes.

There are many things that are nice about the use of Patty Papers. For one, they use no markers or other writing utensils that tend to get messy. It is also much easier to fold a straight line then to draw one. Patty Paper can show students true shapes and that are hard to draw free hand. Patty Paper is also very easy and cheap to obtain. For all of these reasons, Patty Paper is a great way to teach geometry.

In general many students have trouble learning geometry. It can be difficult to picture and imagine the different shapes that can be made and the way that these shapes interact. Patty Paper gives the students a hands-on way of experimenting with geometry and allows the students the gain control of their learning.

Pre Skills:

  1. Basic knowledge of shapes


  1. To help the students learn basic geometry
  2. To have the students take control of their learning
  3. To let the students have fun
  4. To let the students experiment with different kinds of geometry


Patty Paper



Adjacent Angles

Acute Triangle

Obtuse Triangle

Right Triangle

Scalene Triangle

Isosceles Triangle








  1. Divide the class into groups
  2. Give every student a packet and give each group a pile of Patty Paper
  3. Have the students read through the lesson and then try them as a group
  4. Give the students time to compare their results with each other and with the entire class


Since each student will have a packet, the teacher could collect them with the used Patty Paper and mark the answers on the sheets

The teacher could go over all of the shapes with the entire class and the students could compare their results

A test could be given to the students where they have to reproduce similar shapes using the Patty Paper or not


There are many lessons here and after each one is completed, the teacher could bring the class together and talk about the shapes that were discovered. The students could be asked to try and draw the shapes without the Patty Paper. Each group could have to then make a poster with the Patty Paper glued onto poster board and describe the different shapes that they found and give an example of where this shape is found in public.

Cross References:

The lesson emphases group work, which proves to be important in student learning. While is uses mostly math, there are verbal skills and communication skills that are needed to work in the group and to participate in the final discussion. The students have to be able to verbalize their results and communicate with the others in their group and to the whole class.