The emergence of rhythmic patterns as a way of embodied mathematical knowing

Alfredo BAUTISTA ARELLANO, Jennifer S. THOM, Wolff-Michael ROTH

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This qualitative study is part of a 2-year longitudinal research focused on theorizing the role of the body in elementary students’ mathematical learning and understanding. More specifically, we are interested in exploring how children’s transactions with geometric objects give rise to ways of embodied knowing. Drawing on an exemplary episode in which a group of 3rd-graders were classifying three-dimensional objects, our purpose is to illustrate a way of embodiment not addressed in previous investigations, namely “embodied rhythm”. A rhythmic choreography emerged during the transaction between one of the students with a cream carton. The rhythm of that choreography was especially clear in the beats the student performed on the object’s faces. Other two embodied dimensions produced the same rhythmic pattern: object orientation and body position. Based on a detailed micro-analysis, embodied rhythm is conceptualized as a way of mathematical knowing, as well as a means of objectification of mathematical understanding. Copyright © 2010 BSRLM.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-253
JournalProceedings of the British Congress for Mathematics Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010




Bautista, A., Thom, J. S., & Roth, W.-M. (2010). The emergence of rhythmic patterns as a way of embodied mathematical knowing. Proceedings of the British Congress for Mathematics Education, 30(1), 248-253.


  • Embodied mathematics
  • Geometry
  • Rhythm
  • Elementary students
  • Ethnography