“Let’s sing our Shape Song!” I announce. We sing the familiar Shape Song with energy.
Singing is a fun attention grabber, but more than that, this little tune helps so many people with the jingle, “Two sides are short—two sides are long” which helps them differentiate rectangles from triangles. (The “angle”s at the end of each shape is very confusing for many if not most young children.)
“So what’s special about rectangles?,” I ask, selecting a student who didn’t have his hand raised. We work together to help him get the “two sides are short—two sides are long” part.
Let’s all practice that!,” I say. “Again, we repeat the “two sides are short…” jingle
We work on building rectangles out of colorful paper. Some students whizz through this, and others clearly struggle with even concepts like “short” and “long.” This is one of those times when I make a mental note to self: practice rectangle like crazy!!! The strips are either 3 inches long or 6 inches long, (the shorter is the folded version of the 6 inch strip), and the strips are just glued on the corners. Corners are tricky, though! (Many of us don’t understand the concept of “corner” at this point!)
We move on to our rectangle pages and trace the rectangle. Drawing real world rectangles is fun, and the good news about making a rectangle and then tracing a rectangle before we attempt a real world rectangle is that we have had enough immediate practice that we’re not confused and trying to make triangles (at this point)!
As we write the 4 for the number of sides, my helpful yellow marker comes in handy for students who know that we have 4 sides but don’t know how to write a 4! (It’s early in the year, of course!) I only write one 4 with the yellow marker, and then I see what the children do for their second 4. Some of them will wait for that yellow marker without even considering to attempt to write a 4! Other students will make the funniest square-like shapes, but I appreciate their efforts!
Students complete the bottom portion of the rectangle page independently, coloring the items that are shaped like rectangles. During this time, I help students who are struggling… including a few little kiddos who are still struggling with the concept of “corner” from our make a rectangle activity.
On a separate table, rectangle play dough mats and play dough are available for fast finishers. Students know to roll the play dough into “snakes” to form rectangles. I like to use the small party size containers of play dough because it limits the amount of play dough a student can use at any given time, and because it allows for the opportunity to switch colors if a student completes a hexagon with one color of play dough.
The closing is really an opportunity to focus on 2 things: the shape, rectangle, and the kids! I love to make students the stars of their learning. We display a lot of different real-world rectangles on the document camera, and it’s still early enough in the year that the kiddos get excited about seeing their work displayed.
We sing the rectangle part of the Shape Song, including, “It has 2 short sides, and it has 2 long sides. It’s a rectangle. It’s a rectangle.”