Don't Be Such a Square, Be a Cube Instead!

Print Lesson


SWBAT identify and describe a cube by it's attributes.

Big Idea

Kindergarteners love to identify shapes in their environment. In order effectively do that, they must be able to recognize different shapes by their specific attributes. In this lesson kindergartners learn about the attributes of a cube.

Daily Calendar & Counting Review

20 minutes

Each day we begin our math block with an interactive online calendar followed by counting songs and videos.

Calendar Time:

We do calendar on Starfall every afternoon.  This website has free reading and math resources for primary teachers. It also has a  “more” option that requires paying a yearly fee. The calendar use is free. A detailed description of Daily Calendar math is included in the resources.

Counting with online sources: Today we did counting practice to reinforce the counting skills. We watched two to three number recognition 0-10 videos (one to two minutes each) because some of my students students were still struggling with identifying numbers correctly in random order. We watched "Shawn the Train" and counted objects with him to refresh our memories on how to count objects to ten and to reinforce one to one counting. Since we have started the second quarter of the school year, we added to today's counting practice: counting to 20 forward and back, counting by tens to 100 and counting to 100 by ones to get a jump on our end of the year goals.

Direct Instruction

20 minutes

I begin the lesson by reviewing our shapes chart. We review the names and attributes of all the shapes already listed. Then I introduce the next 3D shapes, the cube.

Me (holding up a plastic cube): Does anyone know what we call this shape?

Students: Several kids yelled out, "Cube!" (This is a strong example of why we sing along to the 3D shapes video during calendar time even though the kids hadn't been formally introduced to them yet.) Note: A couple of students yelled out, "Square!" I deliberately continued with the lesson because it should eliminate the confusion by the closure.

Me: Awesome! Using your eyes (linking to the five senses in science), I want you to think about what a cube looks like. I give approximately 20 seconds wait time. "If I call on you, I would like you to tell me what notice about this cube in a complete sentence using the words, 'The cube has...'" (This supports English language development.)

Students (names randomly picked one at a time from Popsicle sticks in a jar).

Student 1: The cube has squares.

Me: Can you explain how it has squares? (probing questions)

Student 1: It has a square on the front of it. (students actual words).

Me: Good observation. The "squares" on the cube are called faces. Everyone say "A cube has square faces." Students repeat. Let's count how many square faces a cube has (We count six faces together and start our cube poster). I draw a cube and write 6 square faces under it.

Me: I draw another name stick. "What else can you tell me about this shape?"

Student 2: It's has corners.

Me: Can you say that again, but start your sentence with, "The cube has..." (This supports English language development)

Student 2: The  cube has corners.

Me: Yes, the cube does have corners. When they come together like this in a point we call them vertices. Let's count how many vertices this cube has (we all count together). How many vertices does a cube have?

All students: 8!

Me: Let's say that in a sentence.

All: The cube has 8 vertices. (I write 8 vertices on the poster)

Me: Is there anything else you can say about this cube? (I don't pick a stick this time because the most obvious attributes have already been stated. I pick a raised hand)

Student 3: The cube has sides.

Me: Another good observation! On a 3 dimensional shape like this cube, we call the sides edges. Let's say that in a sentence.

All: The cube has edges.

Me: Let's count the edges (we count 12 edges together and I write it on the poster and we say, "The cube has 12 edges).

Once the kids have provided enough information on the cube, we add it to our shapes poster.

Management Tip: To call on students, I pull names on popsicle sticks that are housed in a plastic jar. This prevents me from sub-consciously choosing the same students repeatedly or calling on too many girls versus boys and vice versa.

Building Cubes

15 minutes

I get a tub of attribute blocks and take out some squares. I slowly stack the squares on top of each other until someone notices that I've constructed a cube (someone, or several, usually get excited and yell out, "You made a cube!"

I give each table a tub of attribute blocks. I challenge them to build cubes out of the shapes. They are invited to explore with the blocks and share what they discover.

The kids get excited and call me over to see their small cubes built out of the small squares and their large cubes built out of the large squares. Once every student has successfully built at least one cube out of the attribute blocks, I give every student a sandwich baggy with mini marshmallows and blunted skewer sticks (cut in half) and a paper plate. I challenge them to build a cube out of the supplies. It usually takes a few minutes for the kids to catch on, but they quickly pick it up by watching each other and in about five minutes, most or all of the students have a cube made out of marshmallows and sticks.

Once everyone has built a marshmallow/stick cube, we clean up and gather on the carpet. We have a counter at the back of the room where we let projects dry or keep them until it's time to go home.

The kids really enjoy this activity and it directly links to our lesson on comparing 2D and 3D shapes (Fat or Flat?)

If you have time, have the kids cut and paste the Cube Pattern.


5 minutes

We gather on the floor and discuss anything that the kids may have learned. One student says she can "really see the corners" when she built the cube out of marshmallows and sticks.

Another student says that he could see the squares in the cube.

A third says the activity with building cubes out of squares makes her think about cutting butter. How cool is that?! These activities really got their brain juices going!