Is it just me or do you think of ALL the hands on activities for shapes too? Busting out the pattern blocks, tangrams, and of course popsicle sticks with Play Doh! I am SUPER excited to show you ALL the ways to not only making learning about shapes engaging and fun, but also how to help students make connections, compose new shapes, and explain their thinking about the creative ways we interact with both 2D and 3D shapes! And of course give you ten awesome activities to let students practice and have fun!!
Shapes are literally all around us. From stop signs to car wheels, we interact with many different 2D and 3D shapes in our world everyday. Like many other math skills, shapes are the beginning building blocks to many other important geometry skills students will learn later on.
Did you know there is also a connection between early shape knowledge and literacy skills? Think about the different shapes of letters and how they can be recognized by other shapes we already know. While this can oftentimes be neglected (I know I’m guilty of it), this skill is a crucial one to help students be successful as they grow and learn. It’s important to build a solid foundation for students so that they can continue to be successful as the concepts and skills become more difficult for them.
Composing and decomposing shapes helps students work on problem solving skills and spatial relationships. It also supports critical thinking when students work through how shapes fit together and how combining them can make new shapes. This is an important skill that can at times be really challenging for students, especially when it comes to having students justify their answer but if kids have fun with this, mastery will follow.
Setting the Stage
To help provide some background for students on shapes, I LOVE using Brainpop Jr. They have some wonderful quick videos to teach students about 2D, 3D, and manipulating shapes!
After watching the videos, we create an anchor chart together with different 2D (plane) shapes and their attributes. We focus on squares, rectangles, triangles, and circles. We spend a few days focusing on how we identify, compare, and compose them with our engaging activities mentioned below.
Once we’ve spent some time digging into 2D shapes, we’re ready to dive into 3D and how they are different from 3D shapes. We also spend time composing 3D shapes to create new shapes. Setting the stage for both is key to getting your students excited to practice these skills. Take a look at some of the traceable anchor charts below that can be created with students!
Literature in Math
I love connecting literature to math in as many ways as possible. Below you’ll find a list of SO many wonderful books that teach students about shapes! This list contains affiliate links. If you purchase one of these books after clicking, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you!
The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns
Skippyjon Jones Shape Up by Judith Schachner
City Shapes by Diana Murray
Round is a Tortilla by Roseanne Thong
Shape by Shape by Suse MacDonald
Circle by Mac Barnett
Perfect Square by Michael Hall
Love, Triangle by Marcie Colleen
Mouse Shapes by Ellen Walsh
Captain Invincible and the Space Shapes by Stuart Murphy
Make it Concrete
After students have a solid understanding of 2D and 3D shapes, it’s time to bring on ALL the fun! Making it concrete is not only SUPER helpful for helping students master a skill, but it’s also way more entertaining. While some shape skills may come easily, there are others like spatial reasoning that are more complex. When it comes to these super tricky math skills, I have a secret tool I love to use that has been a MAJOR game changer in our classroom. It’s called the CRA Model and it has got to be one of the best differentiation tools for teaching. Learn more about it HERE!
So let’s get to the activities!! It’s time to bust out ALL the manipulatives and teach students about how shapes are apart of our world.
#1: Have A Scavenger Hunt!
Finding treasures is always enjoyable! Send your students on some 2D and 3D scavenger hunts around your classroom, playground, or scavenge as much of the school you’d like! They will be sure to find all kinds of examples of each shape and it’ll be a fun discussion for later when you talk about the things that were found.
#2: Spin a Shape Pizza
Spinners, dice, and pizza? Count me in! Your students will get really excited, and maybe a bit hungry, with this hands-on activity that adds a little competition to the mix. This shape game allows students to race against each other to top their pizza. Students will spin to see what type of shaped topping they get to put on their pizza. They’ll roll the dice to see the amount of that topping they get to add and the first one to fill up their pizza with these scrumptious shapes is the winner!! Talk about practice made fun!
Shape Race Freebie
#3: Construction Site Shapes
This interactive sorting activity is definitely a HIT with the kiddos. Build these super simple construction signs with a tissue box to have students practice sorting 2D and 3D shapes. They’ll love tossing in the correct shapes into each corresponding sign!
#4: Interactive Task Cards
Task cards are so versatile and there’s no limit to the fun you can have with them! These print and go cards can be used to play scoot, four corners, or trashketball! You can use them as a center activity, for test prep, or make a board game with them. Get creative and have fun!
#5: Let’s Get Building
Sensory play is always a rocking good time and these shape mats get students down and dirty with their building skills. Insert these cards in a bin of dirt, rocks, or anything else you can think of that resembles a construction site and let students get to building! Add some brown or black playdoh and challenge your students to build the shape on the card they pull.
Who doesn’t love piecing together puzzles?! Not only will students have a great time with this activity, but it encompasses practice for identifying shapes, their number of sides and vertices, and committing the shape name into sight word memory. Great skills and fun!
#7: Pattern Block Activities
Composing shapes takes a lot of practice and these pattern block or tangram activities are perfect for that! They are already differentiated for difficulty and there are so many fun shapes that are sure to challenge your little learners. These are easy and quick to prep and you’re good to go!
#8: Shape Bump Games
Bump is an engaging game that always brings excitement. These super easy print and go bump sheets come with 2D, 3D & mixed practice options so your students can practice just what they need! This is perfect for whole group practice, test prep, or review after a unit. Grab this FREE by subscribing!
Grab this free resource now!
Headbands is such a fun game that can be played during so many times of the day. Have a few extra minutes before dismissal? Play headbands! Finished a lesson early and need to kill some time? Play headbands! Kids can play together during centers, you can play during small group sessions, or you can play as a review game with the whole class. All you need are some elastic hair bands, these shape cards, and you’re ready to have some challenging fun. Throw the headband over your forehead to hold your card where you can’t see it and ask questions that will help you guess what shape you are. Do I have four sides? Am I 3D? Take turns and have a great time!
#10: Get Crafty!
Wrap up all that wonderful learning with this adorable math craft that will look perfect on the bulletin board! This Guess My Shape craft let’s kids surprise others with a little peekaboo lift and reveal element. Students will talk about sides, corners, and what real world object their shape resembles for others to guess their shape. Lift the craft to see if your guess was right!
Want other activities such as a bingo, race to compose, and more?! Check out ALL the fun with THIS shape activity pack!
Below you’ll see the jam packed math centers bundle that includes ALL these engaging activities and more… with a FREEBIE of course! This bundle will help you have engaging, fun, and hands on math activities for the ENTIRE YEAR. Make math a time your students are sure to love and remember! This is also a GROWING bundle because as I come up with more hands on ideas, I continue to add them to the bundle! So each new resource that gets included, you get for FREE!
I hope you enjoyed learning some fun ways to help students totally rock shapes. This is a CRUCIAL life skill for students and the deeper the understanding of these skills, the better! Let’s help students not only be successful but have FUN doing it! Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list! Not only will you get the most up to date tips, tricks, and classroom projects… and of course more fun FREEBIES including the Shapes Bump FREEBIE! You will also have exclusive access to tons of digital how to videos! If you would like to learn about this and other things happening in my classroom follow me @sweetnsauerfirsties on Instagram.
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