Pin it!
Google Plus

Getting to Know the Shapes

  • Lesson
Jennifer Suh
Location: unknown

In this lesson, students discover the uses of geometry and measurement in the world of architecture as they are introduced to the clubhouse project.

Begin the lesson by reading the books How a House is Built by Gail Gibbons and Building a House by Byron Barton as a "hook" to interest students in the project. As you read the stories, point out the variety of buildings in the text and discuss their purposes.

After reading, you can review the pages of the books to give students an opportunity to identify different geometric shapes used in the buildings. (In the main part of the lesson, students will be sorting and identifying geometric shapes, and this can serve as a good warm‑up.)

You can also invite a guest architect to talk about his job and how mathematics is related to his work. Students can see how the architect uses various measuring tools when drawing blueprints.

The first major activity of the lesson is sorting plane and solid figures. Provide students with an assortment of two‑ and three‑dimensional objects as well as a copy of the Sort ‘Em activity sheet.

pdficon  Sort 'Em Activity Sheet 

Upon completion, review the Sort ‘Em activity sheet with students. [All items in the top row of the word bank, from Square to Octagon, are plane figures; all items in the bottom row, from Cube to Pyramid, are solid figures.] During this review, be sure to elicit from students what distinguishes a plane figure from a solid figure. [Plane figures "lie flat," whereas solid figures take up space.]

Following the sorting activity, students should attempt to find all the geometric shapes in the architectural drawings on the Shape Search activity sheet. Students should recognize that a variety of shapes are used in architecture, but more importantly, they should learn the names and attributes of plane and solid figures.

pdficon  Shape Search Activity Sheet  

To conclude the lesson, connect these activities with the math that students will be learning in the rest of the unit. Introduce how they will become junior architects who will design their dream clubhouse. Have students, in small teams of two or three, decide on a theme for their clubhouse and to make a list of all the items they believe are essential to include. Some of the themes the students select may be Sports, Animal Lovers, Art, or Dance. The students’ task for the next three lessons will be to learn the mathematical skills required for designing an architectural structure and then to build their own clubhouses.


  1. Observe students while they work on the shape sorting activity to see if they can differentiate between plane and solid figures. Have students record the names of the figures so that the activity sheet can serve as an assessment tool.
  2. Require students to begin a design log that they will use throughout this project. Each day, give them five minutes at the end of the lesson to write a paragraph about the math that they learned and how it will help them in designing their clubhouse.


  1. Have students go on a shape hunt on their way home (or at home) for homework. Students can record the items they identify on the Shapes on the Way Home activity sheet.
  2. Take a digital camera during recess and have different students take pictures of geometric shapes in and around the school.

Questions for Students 

1. How are plane figures and solids different?
[Plane figures "lie flat." On the other hand, solids take up space.]
2. What are some plane and solid figures in and around your classroom?
3. What shapes are harder to find in buildings and around you? Why do you think that is so?
[Shapes with right angles are easier to construct and therefore more common in buildings. Circular shapes and shapes without right angles (pentagons, hexagons, heptagons, etc.) are less common.]
4. In how many different ways can we describe a toy wagon using geometric words?
What are your favorite plane and solid figures? Why?

Teacher Reflection 

  • Were students able to differentiate between plane and solid figures?
  • Did they make connections between geometric shapes and the real world?
  • Did you challenge the achievers? How?
  • Was your lesson appropriately adapted for the diverse learner?
  • Was your lesson developmentally appropriate? If not, what was inappropriate? What would you do to change it?

Finding Perimeter and Area

In this lesson, students develop strategies for finding the perimeter and area for rectangles and triangles using geoboards and graph paper. Students learn to appreciate how measurement is a critical component to planning their clubhouse design.

Creating a Two-Dimensional Blueprint

In this lesson, students draw a two-dimensional blueprint of their clubhouse using graph paper.

Constructing a Three-Dimensional Model

In this lesson, students build a three‑dimensional model from their two‑dimensional blueprint. In addition, they solve problems related to constructing and decorating their clubhouse.

Learning Objectives


Students will:


  • Classify two- and three-dimensional shapes according to their properties and develop definitions of classes of shapes such as triangles and pyramids by sorting pictures or solids into two categories.
  • Identify two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes in real life architectures.
  • Identify, compare, and analyze attributes of two- and three-dimensional shapes and develop vocabulary.

Common Core State Standards – Mathematics

Grade 5, Geometry

  • CCSS.Math.Content.5.G.B.4
    Classify two-dimensional figures in a hierarchy based on properties.