I hold up a picture of a rhombus and ask, “What’s this shape?”
Now, it sounds mean, but I call on someone who called the rhombus a “diamond” when I did his entry assessment. I’m picky about who I ask—not a timid kiddo or someone who isn’t secure in their learning. I pick a kid who is comfortable with me and with our class, because for once, I’m drawing attention to the difference between preschool and kindergarten, between being partially right and actually accurate.
So I call on my little turkey who says, “Diamond!” loudly.
I ask, “Did you say ‘diamond’ at Head Start?” (At my Title I school, students either go to Head Start next door or NO preschool, so I can make that assumption.)
“Yes!” the student in question and a few friends respond.
“It is a diamond!” I agree, but I continue. “There’s a big kid word that means “diamond”—a word you will use in 1st grade, 2nd grade, middle school, high school, and even college! Oh—by the way—who here can go to college?” I ask, taking every opportunity to water the seed that we can ALL attend college and that we are working today to get ready.
We love to plan for college, so I really have their interest. “RHOMBUS!” I announce triumphantly. “Say that with me, friends: RHOMBUS!”
We repeat it a few times, and I say, “So the ‘big kid’” mathematically accurate way to say ‘diamond’ is…” and I call on students to repeatedly state, “Rhombus!”
“Everyone, let’s say the big kid name of this shape!” I say. “Rhombus!” students declare.
Let’s make some rhombuses!” I say.
We move to our work groups at the tables, and using the document camera, I mention that one student has shared with me that she is collecting our shapes that we’re making at home. I state that this shape will be super cool and show the students how I can use 4 craft sticks to and angle the corners to make the shape of a kite, or rhombus. Since it’s still early in the year, we say our glue reminder, “Just a dot—not a lot—a little dab of glue will do!” over and over. We practice the glue reminder as I demonstrate how to glue the corners of my craft stick rhombus together.
As the students begin to build rhombuses, I make sure to circulate quickly, being certain that students have written their names on their rhombuses—and that we’re not accidentally building squares.
We move on to our All About Rhombuses page that I created, which provides opportunity to trace the rhombus.
I love the “real world example” part of this activity, but I need to be honest: it’s harder to find examples of rhombuses than say, triangles or squares. I begin to feel like I’m scrambling to find examples of rhombuses. Kids come up with a kite, and I lead them to an actual diamond gemstone, and then I get creative in our brainstorm conversation. I lead our conversation to eventually mention road signs, rhombus-shaped earrings, and even I hesitate a little to mention baseball diamond. It’s just forever been a “baseball diamond!” If a student suggests baseball diamond as an example of a rhombus, I would happily accept it.
We count and write the sides of the rhombus. Of course, my trusty yellow marker is in my pocket in case students need something to trace when they write 4.
As I did with square, I may write one yellow “4” and see what the student does when we get to the “number of corners” part. It is always fun to see students stretch themselves and try to independently write a number that they traced.
Students look forward to finding and coloring the rhombuses on the bottom of the page. This is their time to show what they know, and I encourage them to work hard to find the rhombuses and color them carefully. They love the challenge, and happily get working.
Meanwhile, I can work with students who are struggling. Some students may be having a hard time holding their pencils or their crayons, some students may need a little support recognizing rhombuses, and with many students working independently, I am freed up to offer needed support. It’s a win-win situation!
The closing is all about student understanding. I display a variety of the student’s real-world drawings on “the big screen,” especially when someone draws something other than a kite. When displaying kites, I try to find examples of quality work, like using more than 1 color or taking one’s time coloring, to really exemplify qualities of “big kid” work. I throw in some fun ones, too, and keeping in mind that sometimes little girls can have more developed fine motor skills, I make sure to have balance between boys and girls when displaying work.
I do my pep rally thing again, asking to wrap up, “What did we make today?!” with a bit more enthusiasm than necessary.
“Rhombuses!” students cheer.
Then, to make sure that we’re all super excited about learning, I ask kids who tend to get sleepy or zone out a bit, “What’s the shape we made?” to one student, then having the whole group repeat “Rhombus,” followed by, “How many sides does a rhombus have?” quickly to another student who answers, “4!” which I again make everyone repeat.
“That shape that you used to call a ‘diamond’ is actually what?” I ask. The kids yell, “Rhombus!” Mission accomplished!