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Shapes and Poetry

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Students read the poem "Shapes" from A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein, and create their own illustration of the poem. In this lesson, students explore geometric figures and positional words.

Poem Summary  

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.

Distribute the geometric shapes (square, rectangle, triangle, and circle) to each student. Direct them to arrange their shapes according to what they hear in the poem. As necessary, re‑read the poem several times, giving students the opportunity to check their placements.

832 square   832 triangle   832 circle

Distribute copies of the Shapes Art activity sheet to each student.

pdficon Shapes Art Activity Sheet 

If students have already arranged the geometric shapes, direct them to copy their arrangement in the box (labeled My Illustration) onto the activity sheet. In place of using cut out geometric shapes, the students can be asked to draw a picture of what they think the illustration should look like in the box on the activity sheet.

After completing the drawing, 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 justifiable.)

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.

  • Book: A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein
  • Shapes Art Activity Sheet 
  • One cut-out figure of each geometric shape for each student: square, rectangle, triangle, and circle


Supply students with several other shapes. Encourage them to write a poem or story using the shapes. As the stories are shared, ask other class members to illustrate the stories. The collection of stories and poems (along with the illustrations) can be compiled into a class book for future reference.


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Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Recognize geometric figures
  • Draw and describe geometric figures
  • Interpret positional words

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.