Architecture with Shapes

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SWBAT create architectural shapes with squares, rhombi, and parallelograms.

Big Idea

Determining the differences between similar shapes in geometry is more meaningful when the students create architectural structures using the different shapes.


5 minutes

To begin this lesson I review the differences between the shapes of square, rhombus, and parallelogram by questioning the students. I want to assess their prior knowledge of shapes to begin this lesson.  The slight differences between these shapes requires students to think analytically and precisely (MP6) to determine the name of each shape.  It can also be confusing to students because a shape can also be classified with multiple names (e.g. all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares). 

The use of these shapes will be the basis for creating different building structures in this lesson connected to the social studies unit. 


5 minutes

During this section of the lesson, students will use pattern blocks to design architectural buildings from Ancient Rome.  This is the current topic of our social studies unit, and it is provides a cross-curricular connection between math and social studies.  

Using the pattern blocks, I show the students how to create the outline of the intricate structures including temples to ancient gods and goddesses.  

I want the students to link the shapes and patterns to represent the buildings and look for smaller structural details.  I also challenge the students to create any of the geographical components using the pattern blocks including hills, rivers, and mountains.  I model building one of the critical pieces found in temple buildings, known as a lararium.  This household shrine was to honor the gods and its shape is common to many official national buildings including the Supreme Court.  It is characterized with columns and a pediment (triangular) roof structure.  Using square tiles and parallelograms, I demonstrate for the students how to create the main elements of this building.

I demonstrate building the outline first with the shapes and tracing around each one with a pencil. This allows the students to see that they would only need a few of each of the shapes to create their structure rather than having many shapes for each group of students. I chose to have the students work in partners, and allow some of my students chose to work independently. 

In this lesson I want the students to understand the complexity of the architecture and structures built during Ancient Rome without the use of modern technology.  The strength of these buildings, structures, and reliance on geographical features allowed people to thrive.  Their understanding of shapes and geometry supported their successes. Having my students create two-dimensional structures and geographical features with these shapes provides them with some insight into the perseverance of the Romans.

Create Shapes

35 minutes

Each group of students gets to choose their own structure or geographical feature.  Because our class is studying Ancient Rome in social studies, the students are asked to choose structures or geographical features from this unit.  They create these structures using manipulatives including square, rhombus, and parallelogram. I am looking for their use of patterns in design in the way the students create straight lines, but also staggering pieces that would indicate strength in a structure.  This would be similar to the offset pattern of a brick wall for strength. Once the students build and trace their shapes, I have them color and label each of the different pieces with the name of the shape.