Comparing & Sorting Shapes

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Students will be compare and sort two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes.

Big Idea

Two-dimensional shape and three-dimensional shapes are related! Students will use play dough to see how the two kinds of shapes are related. Students will also be able to differentiate between two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes.

Problem of the Day

5 minutes

I start the lesson with a problem of the day to help students review skills and concepts from prior lessons and develop their ability to problem solve.  I call the students up to the carpet. The students find their spots while saying this chant with me.

Criss cross, applesauce, hands in your lap, eyes on the teacher, you've got to show me that.

I project the Problem of the Day on the SMART Board and say to students, "This is our Problem of the Day for today.  This says 'What shape is this object?  Does it stack?  Does it roll?  Does it slide?  Use balls to justify your answer.'  This problem has several parts.  What does it want us to do first?"  Name the shape.  "What is the shape?" A sphere  "What does it want us to do next?"  Tell if it stacks.  "We also need to justify our answer by showing it with balls."  I call up students to tell if the sphere can stack and show how they know.  We repeat this with roll and slide.

I tell students, "Today we are going to look at both two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes and how they are related."

Presentation of Lesson

25 minutes

I have the students sit in a circle around the edge of the circle and place the wooden three-dimensional shapes, one attribute block for each two-dimensional shape, and some play dough in the middle of the circle.  I hold up each shape and have the students name it.  I then tell the students that two- and three-dimensional shapes are related.  I show the cylinder.  I remind the students that the flat parts of three-dimensional shapes are called faces.  I show one of the faces and and ask, "What do you see?"  A circle  I show the students how we can push the face down into the play dough and it leaves an imprint of the two-dimensional shape.  I repeat this with each of the three-dimensional shapes.  See example here.

I tell students that we are going to sort two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional shapes on a Sorting 2D and 3D Shapes worksheet (available for free on  I show students the paper and say, "You are going to be doing this paper on your own, but we are going to go over the directions together.  You need to get out a pencil and put your name on your paper.  When your name is on your paper hold your pencil in the air, that will let me know that you are ready to start."  

I like to have students hold up their pencils or put their hands on their heads when they are finished with a task.  It makes it easy for me to see who is ready and also keeps the students from writing all over their papers while they wait for other students to finish.  I hand each student a paper for them to take back to their seats and while the students are writing their names, I turn on the projector and document camera and display the worksheet on the SMARTBoard.  When all students have their pencils up, I say, "At the top of the paper there is a chart.  Above one side it says '2D Shapes' and on the other side it says 3D Shapes.'  Your job is to cut out the shapes at the bottom and decide which group they belong in." 

I model with the square and sphere to get the students started.  I leave my paper up for students to see the first two as examples.  I say, "You are going to cut out the rest and glue them in the correct group.  You may do this now.  When you are finished, you can put your paper in the tray and get your center."  I circulate and help students who are having trouble sorting the shapes.  I also ask the students to name the shapes as I come to their tables.  When the students finish, they put their paper in the basket and go their center.


20 minutes

The centers for this week are:

Play dough Shapes (
Solid Shape Sort ( and Sorting Math)
Dramatic Play Shape Sort (
Roll and Cover Reindeer (
SMART Board Shapes Shoot (

I quickly circulate to make sure students are engaged and do not have any questions about how to complete the centers, and then pull three groups.  I pull the first group for 10 minutes and the other two groups for 5 minutes each. 

The first group is comprised of the students who were having trouble identifying numbers and matching the numbers to objects.  Even though we are working on shapes, I start with identifying and matching numbers to objects for this group since they need to master this skill.  I have a basic idea of who I want in each group based on recent assessments, but I also take into account how the students do in the whole group lesson. 

I pull the students back to my small group table to do a reteach activity using flash cards and manipulatives (for this lesson I used pompoms).  I show the flash cards and have students practice identifying the numbers.  Students are given a pile of counters (1-10) and are asked to pick the number card that matches their group.  I then put the wooden 3-dimensional shapes out on the table and some attribute blocks.  I lay down two index cards.  One says 2D and one says 3D.  I have each student pick a shape, name it, and put it in the correct group.  We continue until all of the shapes are sorted.  The next two groups of students only do the shape activity.

Prior to clean up, I check in with each table to see how the centers are going.  I turn on Tidy Up by Dr. Jean.  Students clean up and return to their seats.


5 minutes

I close the lesson by reviewing all of the two- and three-dimensional shapes.  I hold up each shape and have the students name them and say if they are two- or three-dimensional. 

I mention positive things that I notice during centers and include something that needs to be better next time.  I review what we did during our whole group lesson.  "Today we compared and sorted two- and three-dimensional shapes.  Tomorrow, we are going to take a short assessment so that you can show me what you learned about shapes in this unit!"