Sorting 3D Shapes

7 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT sort and classify 3D shapes that are seen in our every day lives.

Big Idea

Shapes, shapes, everywhere! In this lesson, students will sort and classify 3D shapes by their defining attributes of a sphere, cube or cylinder.

Activating Strategy

10 minutes

I begin this lesson by playing the game "Ship Shapes" on the SmartBoard.  In this game, students match 3D shapes to real life objects.  I like to use this game because it gets the students engaged and thinking about 3D shapes and how they are seen and used in our daily lives.  This brings in real-world examples to the students and they begin to understand that a cone is not just seen as an "ice cream cone" in our everyday lives, but in other forms as well.

During the game, I like to have students sit on the carpet, and I pull sticks or call up random students to the board to take a turn at the game.  

Teaching Strategies

15 minutes

After playing the game, I review the names of the 3D shapes and hold up examples of each.  In the standard G.A.1, I have found that many students tend to confuse the solid, or 3D shapes, with flat or 2D shapes. For example, they may call the sphere a circle, or the cube a square.  To help with this misconception, I like to hold up a cube and a square to demonstrate the differences in a concrete way.

After reviewing the 3D shapes, I instruct the students to turn to their shoulder partner and explain how a 3D shape and a 2D shape are different.  By allowing them to explain to their shoulder partner, they are practicing communicating precisely about the shapes and using specific terms related to geometry (MP6).  This allows the students to explain and rationalize the difference between the two verbally, which helps them internalize their understanding.

I then draw a picture of a cube, sphere, and a cylinder on the board or chart paper.  I draw it in the form of a tree map.  I then have students name real life objects that represent each 3D shape to further support solid connections.

Independent Practice

30 minutes

After reviewing the real life 3D shapes, I hand out the Sorting 3D Shapes_worksheet.docx to students.  They are to sort the objects by their defining attributes (number of sides, vertices, curved surfaces, flat surfaces, etc.) and determine if it is a sphere, cube or cylinder.

In this video, a student is explaining how he sorted his objects.  At the end of the video, he refers to the last column as spheres instead of cylinders.  I addressed this by reminding him that a cylinder has 2 flat surfaces and a sphere has all curved surfaces.  


5 minutes

To close out this lesson, I have students draw a picture of another real life 3D object in their journal.  One for each item on the tree map - cube, cylinder and sphere.