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I've Seen That Shape Before

  • Lesson
Pre-K-2
1
Geometry
Carol Midgett
Location: unknown

Students learn the names of solid geometric shapes and explore their properties. At various centers, they use physical models of simple solid shapes, including cubes, cones, spheres, rectangular prisms, and triangular prisms.

The following activities are designed for use in centers, with small groups of students. It would be helpful to spread out the activities over a 4-day period, during which each group could visit a different center, in order. Or, you may use the activities as 4 separate lessons, to be taught over a 4-day period.

Center 1: Exploring Physical Models 

Objective: To examine, recognize, name, and explore the properties of simple geometric solids.

Materials:

  • Physical models of a cube, cone, sphere, cylinder, rectangular prism, and triangular prism

Let students handle, examine, and talk about physical models of geometric solids. Lead the class in generating a list of characteristics for each shape. Record the information in a chart and post it in the room for reference during extension activities, other pre-activities, and the main activity of the lesson. As students list characteristics, guide them with questions such as:

  • Which of the shapes roll?
    [sphere, cylinder, cone]
     
  • Which ones don't roll?
    [cube, rectangular prism, triangular prism]
     
  • How would you describe this triangular prism?
    [It has two triangles that look the same and they are connected by 3 rectangles.]
     
  • How are the cube and rectangular prism alike?
    [They each have 6 faces, 8 corners, and 12 edges. Neither one has any round parts. etc.]
     
  • How are they different?
    [The cube has square faces, the rectangular prism has rectangular faces. The cube is a type of rectangular prism, but the rectangular prism we're referring to is not a cube.]
     
  • Can you point to the corners, sides, and faces of each solid figure?
  • What can you tell me about this shape? What else do you notice?
    [Sample response for cone: It's round at one end and comes to a point at the other. It has only one corner and one edge.]
     

Center 2: Representing Space Figures 

Objective: To match physical models of 3-dimensional shapes with their names and illustrations.

Materials:

  • Physical models of a cube, cone, sphere, cylinder, rectangular prism, and triangular prism
  • Shape Cards Sheet cut into shape cards with pictures of geometric solids
  • Name Cards Sheet cut into name cards with the names of geometric solids

Matching Illustrations and Solids  

Give each group of students a set of physical models of the geometric solids and a set of pictures of geometric solids cut from Shape Cards Sheet.

Have the students match each solid with its illustration.

As you circulate, observe students' actions and listen to their conversation for ongoing assessment.

As you move among the students ask helpful questions, such as:

  • What do you notice about the shape shown on this card?
  • Which of the solids is like that?
  • What shape are the faces of the figure in the picture?
  • Which of the solids has faces in that shape?

Matching Names and Solids  

Work with the group to pronounce the names of the 6 solids and match them to the physical models and to the illustrations on the shape cards. Explain that having names for shapes makes it easier to talk about them and makes it easier to describe objects. For example, you can describe a soup can just by saying it has the shape of a cylinder.

 


Center 3: Faces, Corners, And Edges 

Objectives: To recognize and name the shapes of the faces of space figures. To count faces on space figures. To count corners and edges on plane and space figures.

Materials:

  • Physical models of a cube, cone, sphere, cylinder, rectangular prism, and triangular prism
  • Physical models of a triangle, square, rectangle, and circle
  • Name Cards Sheet cut into name cards with the names of geometric solids
  • Face Cards Sheet cut up into cards with illustrations and names of plane, 2-dimensional figures
  • (Optional) Number Cards Sheet cut up into number cards

Have students work in pairs to match each plane figure with the solids that have faces in that shape.

[Note that students will need to match some plane figures with more than one solid.] 

Have students create a chart like the one below to show the number and type of faces, as well as the number of corners and edges, on each solid. They can fill in their chart by gluing shape, name, and face cards to the chart, and by either gluing number cards or writing numerals.

picture  name faces  corners
[ART - corner]  
edges
[ART - edge]  
622 sphere     
622 cone   622 circle 1   
622 cylinder   622 circle 2   
622 cube   622 square 6 812
622 rectangle   622 rectangle 4

622 square 2 

812
622 triangular prism   622 triangle 2

622 rectangle 3 

69

Instead of numbers in the middle column, children can use multiple shape cards. For example:

622 square622 square622 square622 square622 square622 square instead of 622 square 6 

Encourage students to write or draw any additional ideas they have about the shapes.

As you move among the students, ask questions and give suggestions. For example:

  • This is one corner (or edge or face); can you show me another?
  • What can you do so you don't count a face (or corner or edge) more than one time?
    [Mark it with a piece of tape, keep a finger on it.]
     
  • To see the shape of a face, try holding the solid directly in front of your eyes.
    [Demonstrate this for the students.]
     
  • Why do you think these two shapes are both called prisms?

Center 4: Shape Spotting - Classroom and Beyond 

Objective: To recognize 3-dimensional shapes in the real world.

Materials:

  • Physical models of a triangle, square, rectangle, and circle
  • Shape Cards Sheet cut into shape cards with pictures of geometric solids
  • Name Cards Sheet cut into name cards with the names of geometric solids
  • Digital camera(s), if available

Solid Shapes in the Classroom 

Ask students to look around the classroom to find examples of the 3-dimensional shapes they have been studying. Have the students label each object to show its geometric shape. They can make labels on index cards by drawing a simple outline of the shape, writing the name of the solid on the card, or pasting the matching name and shape cards from Shape Cards Sheet and Name Cards Sheet.

Solid Shapes Outside the Classroom  

Take the class on a walk around the school to identify space figures in the environment. For each one they find, have them say whether it's man-made or natural. If they have a camera, students can take photographs to record the location of each figure and later use these photos to make a bulletin board display or a book for the class library.

During the walk and after, ask questions such as:

  • Is this figure exactly like the model in the classroom?
  • How is it alike? How is it different?

    [Help students understand that they can recognize shapes even when the objects they see are not exactly like the shapes they can imagine.]

     
 
  • 4 sets of physical models of a cube, cone, sphere, cylinder, rectangular prism, and triangular prism
  • 2 sets of physical models of a triangle, square, rectangle, and circle
  • Shape Cards Sheet cut into shape cards with pictures of geometric solids
  • Name Cards Sheet cut into name cards with the names of geometric solids
  • Face Cards Sheet cut up into cards with illustrations and names of plane, 2-dimensional figures
  • (Optional) Number Cards Sheet cut up into number cards
  • Digital camera(s), if available
 

Extensions 

  1. Face Patterns

    Have students explore patterns by counting faces on a group of cubes. First help them develop a chart like this:

    Number of Cubes

    Number of Faces

    Sketch

     

    1

    6

    622 row of 6 squares 

     

    2

    12

    622 row of 6 squares 

    622 row of 6 squares 

     

    3

    18

    622 row of 6 squares 

    622 row of 6 squares 

    622 row of 6 squares 

     
  2. Shape Hunt Game

    Students pick cards from a collection of shape cards from the Shape Cards Sheet and try to find an example of each shape. The hunt can take place within the classroom, throughout the school, at home, etc. Players can try to be the first to find all their shapes. Or they can try to find the most shapes in a given time.

  3. Shapes on the Web

    Have students identify shapes they find as they explore web pages that contain photos of items for sale, sports activities, works of art, etc.

  4. Put one of each solid in a pillow case or bag. One student is blindfolded and picks a solid from the pillow case. The child holds the solid with both hands while the teacher holds the pillow case so the rest of the class can't see the solid. Prompted by your questions like the ones above, the blindfolded child describes how the solid feels. As the other children listen, challenge them to choose from the set of solids in front of them the solid being described. This activity helps children build their vocabulary of words associated with solid figures, such as pointy, flat, rounded, smooth, edges, and corners.
 

Questions for Students 

1. What things in your home have you seen that have the shape of a cylinder?

[Cans of food, rolls of paper towels.]

2. What cylinders have you seen outside your home?

[Trash barrels, smokestacks.]

3. Which solid figure have you found most often? Why?

[Rectangular prism, because it's easy to build.]

Teacher Reflection 

  • Did students achieve the objectives for this lesson? If yes, how can I tell? If not, how should I change the lesson so that it is more effective?
  • What additional experiences do students need to be successful with this activity?
  • What additional experiences do students need before moving to the next activity?
  • Are students able to explain their reasoning? Are their reasons logical?
  • What are the indicators that students are able to work together?
  • How do students decide upon shared responsibilities?
  • Were directions clear and usable by students? If not what adjustments would be appropriate for me to make?
  • What new vocabulary did students use that might need to be reinforced in the next lesson?
  • What additional extensions would be appropriate?
 

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Learn the names and explore the characteristics of simple solid shapes
  • Recognize 3-dimensional geometric shapes in the real world
  • See that a real object may have a recognizable geometric shape even though it's not a perfect representation of that shape
  • Recognize shapes when they are combined with other shapes

NCTM Standards and Expectations

  • Describe attributes and parts of two- and three-dimensional shapes.
  • Investigate and predict the results of putting together and taking apart two- and three-dimensional shapes.
  • Recognize geometric shapes and structures in the environment and specify their location.