3D shapes: they get boring and then you play Snap

We scoured the web and our colleagues brains for ways to interact with 2D and 3D shapes that both let the kids inquire into their properties and connections and reinforced basic skills.  It is a fine line that PYP teachers walk to meet the knowledge component needs and to increase students’ conceptual understandings.


We investigated the names of shapes in all of our home languages and made connections between languages when we saw similiar words. We used the book Animal Zoo as a model for making pictures out of 2D shapes.  We looked at the use of shapes in famous art and created a new visible Thinking Routine called “Artist Talk” where they had to name a picture they had painted and tell what they wanted the viewer to feel when they saw it.  We went on shape hunts and made shape finders to look for shapes in the everyday world.blog 2


We built structures and inclines with blocks and our now infamous pirate ship.  We blindfolded ourselves and tried to talk about shape attributes based on our feeling of touch. We stuck shapes in paint and then rolled them in a drawer to be able to see visible evidence of how they move. (Which is a brilliant inquiry, don’t get me wrong.)  Yet, it happened.  We still got bored of shapes.  None of our games, were helping that final hurdle of the knowledge of names and attributes to stick in their heads.  They could talk about the shapes but, they couldn’t seem to remember their names or important facts like how many sides (edges) or vertices that they had.

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The kids thought we needed a new game to play that wasn’t a board game and wasn’t just about names.  So we made a snap game.  When the kids play it, they have a set of shapes beside them to test and see if their shape rolls, slides, or spins.  They love that they get to hit the cards and oddly they love negotiating and testing their thinking.  After seeing a slap, we often heard statements like. “Yes!  I knew a cube could roll”  or  the more likely, “Slap! Does a cylinder have a square? Oh, no slap.”  They played it for hours and used a simple card game to not just memorize, but inquire into basic facts about shapes.  It always helps to listen to what they want. The FREE 2D Shape Snap is available in both my Tpt and Teacher’s Notebook stores now.  The full 3D Unit with 100 pages of activities (including everything in this post) and games is availain both stores as well.  web cover

Freebie Idea: Try the art project below.  We gave them free reign to make tape shapes and they later had to classify their shapes into groups and count how many quadrilaterals and polygons they had made.

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Freebie Idea #2:  Blindfold a child and put a 3D shape in box/bag.  Let them use their feeling of touch to decribe the shape to the rest of the class.  Have them try to determine how many edges, vertices, and faces the shape.  Based on this information,  have the class guess what shape is hidden in the box.  Unveil to see if they were right.

Here’s to more happy shape inquiries.

//JennyJenny (banner)

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