A square is minding its own business when a triangle comes down and
strikes the square in the back. A circle comes to the square's rescue.
Structuring the Investigation
Read the poem, "Shapes", to the student. This poem can be found in the book, A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein. As you read the poem, direct students to pay attention to the shapes mentioned in the poem. As necessary, re‑read the poem
several times. Discuss the poem and ask students to imagine what the scene looked like.
Shapes Art Activity Sheet
Distribute copies of the Shapes Art Activity Sheet to each student and ask them to illustrate the poem.
Alternatively, you may choose to distribute geometric shapes (square, rectangle, triangle,
and circle) to each student. Direct them to arrange their shapes
according to what they hear in the poem. Distributing pre-cut shapes may limit students' interpretations of each of the shapes and limit the opportunity for you to assess whether they recognize triangles, squares, rectangles, and circles in all sizes, and for triangles and rectangles, different shapes. If students have already arranged the geometric shapes, direct them to copy their arrangement on the page labeled My Illustration
onto the activity sheet.
After completing the illustration, direct students to justify their
illustrations and then to share them with each other. Encourage them to
"argue" their case. (Remind the students that it is possible that a
wide variety of illustrations will be drawn that are all entirely
Students should complete the remainder of the activity sheet. They will need access to the book, A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein, to answer questions 2, 3, and 4 on the activity sheet.
- Hopkins, Martha. "Ideas: Mathematics and Children’s Literature." The Arithmetic Teacher. May, 1993. pp 512 - 520.
- Silverstein, Shel, A Light in the Attic. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1981.