Three Dimensional Shapes

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SWBAT identify and describe three-dimensional shapes according to defining attributes.

Big Idea

Put on your 3D glasses, sit back and enjoy the show! In this lesson, children will look at, touch, and arrange shapes, and discover that though the positions of shapes may change, their attributes do not change.

Activating Strategy

10 minutes

I begin this lesson by watching the video, “Leap Frog: Adventures in Shapeville Park”.  I like this video because it not only shows the Leap Frog animals building a park, but it also shows how shapes are seen and used in the real world. 

For this standard 1.G.A.1, some students may not know the names of 3D shapes or they may confuse them with the names of 2D (flat) shapes (square, rectangle, circle, etc.).  To help those students overcome this misconception, I like to use direct instruction to compare a square to a cube, circle to a sphere, etc. showing students that 2D shapes are flat, and 3D shapes are three dimensional.  I then relate the 3D shapes to real world objects.  By relating to real world objects, students can more easily conceptualize the difference between 2D (flat) and 3D shapes.  It is important for first graders to discern the difference between 2D and 3D shapes and be able to relate them to real world objects (MP7). 

Teaching Strategies

15 minutes

After the video, I start by discussing the types of toys found at the toy store.  We then make a class list and describe the shapes of the toys.  I then present riddles, like the following:

  • I am a round toy. I can bounce. You can roll me. What am I? (a basketball; or soccer ball; etc.)
  • I am flat all over. You can stack me to build a tower. What am I? (building blocks)

I then display a sphere and a cube.  And discuss its attributes, and explain that these are called 3Dimensional shapes.  I then distribute sets of spheres and cubes to pairs or small groups. I like to give children time to explore the shapes. 

I then display the first slide of the Three dimensional shapes.ppt, and ask questions to guide children to sort the shapes based on their attributes.

  • Look at the shapes on the slide. What shapes do you see? (cubes and spheres)
  • Can you sort the shapes into groups of big shapes and small shapes? (yes) 
  • If you sort by size, will you always get groups of shapes that are the same shape? (no)
  • Can you sort the shapes into groups that are the same color? (yes)
  • If you sort by color, will you always get groups of shapes that are the same shape? (no)
  • How can you sort the shapes so that each group has only one kind of shape? (I can sort by shapes that roll and shapes that stack.)
  • How is the sphere different from the cube? (one has flat surfaces, the other doesn’t; one can roll, the other doesn’t)

I ask volunteers to share the two groups they made, and I point out that there is more than one way to sort the shapes.

Then, viewing the second slide, I hold up each shape shown on the slide and say its name as children point to its picture. I have students discuss with a partner whether each shape has flat surfaces or curved surfaces, or both.

  • How is the sphere different from all the other shapes?  (It is curved and does not have any flat surfaces.)
  • Why is a cube a special kind of rectangular prism? (A cube is a rectangular prism where each flat surface is a square. A square is a special kind of rectangle.)
  • How are the cone and cylinder alike? How are they different? (Both shapes have curved and flat surfaces; a cone has one flat surface and a cylinder has two.)

Independent Practice

30 minutes

Then I hand out the Three dimensional shapes_worksheets.docx and have children sort three-dimensional shapes shown in the model into three groups based on curved and flat surfaces.  Once students have successfully sorted their shapes, I turn them loose to continue the remainder of the worksheet independently.


5 minutes

To close out the lesson, I have students work with a shoulder partner and name an everyday object for each 3D object in this lesson (cube, sphere, rectangular prism, cone and cylinder).