We begin by going over our old 2D shapes from the beginning of the year. For most of us, this is easy review. The kids are really the stars of the introduction, taking turns discussing the 2D shapes and real-world examples of each. Confidence is high as we begin the lesson!
I show the poem, 3D Shapes, and we read it a second time, with students joining in. I tell students in my anticipating, whisper voice that we will be as good at knowing our 3D shapes as we are with our 2D shapes! Some students don’t believe it’s possible, I can tell from the looks on their faces, and of course, a couple turkeys insist that they are already experts on all shapes!
I hold up a snack-sized baggie that I have carefully stuffed with shaped crackers—everything from a basic, round Ritz cracker to a couple cone-shaped Bugle crackers (which took some time to find in a grocery store, but was definitely worth the search!)
Next, I show my 2D/3D shape-sorting mat, and I explain that before I can eat my shape snacks, I must sort them on my mat into the proper category. My sorting mat is my tool to help me keep track of my shape snacks (MP.5).
“Let’s try to sort a few things together!” I suggest with enthusiasm. (I never ask them if they want to do anything… of course they want to! This also helps avoid the kid who might say “No,” simply for the sake of saying “No.”)
My helper of the day distributes the sorting mats, and I distribute hand-sanitizer squirts to the kids before any food items are passed out. I remind them that since we will be eating some or all of our shaped snacks, we must begin with clean hands and keep our hands clean.
I ask some kids to help explain what is and is not okay to do during math today, and some of my buddies raise their hands to not such wonderful tips as, “Don’t pick your nose,” and “Don’t wiggle your wiggly tooth in math today!” (I personally love the inclusion of “in math today,” as we know that the pursuit of tooth fairy income is an ongoing endeavor in kindergarten!)
When students show me they are ready to be mathematicians, I pass them a snack baggie filled with snacks. Even our most distractible students are surprisingly ready today!
Once snack baggies are distributed, I ask the students to take out a circle-shaped cracker, and we all pull out at Ritz. My sorting mat is projected on “the big screen,” and we talk about how we are using our sorting tool to keep track of our math objects (MP.5).
“What is the shape we have here?” I ask again, just to keep the focus on the shapes and not the snacks.
“Circle!” students declare.
I ask them where to place the circle shapes, and they all place the circle on the 2D side.
We continue with a cool, store-brand cheese & chipotle-flavored cracker that is happily shaped like a hexagon, and sort the hexagon cracker on the 2D side, as well.
Next, the new vocabulary gets practiced right away. I know that while my class is “language limited” to a large extent, a handful of kids have at least some exposure to this new 3D shape vocabulary.
We practice the new vocabulary right away—cylinders, spheres, cubes, cones—and we practice often (MP.6). (The kids get a feeling that once our snacks are sorted, they will get to eat them, so we are all trying our best with our new vocabulary!)
After going over cylinder and sphere together as we sort mini marshmallows and cereal, I tell the students that they must sort their snacks.
“Can we eat them as we sort?” I ask, to clarify. Students proclaim, “No!”
Students sort away with their shapes, and I am circulating around the room, asking 3D shape names, asking about shape attributes, and complimenting the focused work.
Before I know it, the once over-stuffed baggies are empty, and kids are announcing with pride that they are finished.
As slower workers are finishing up, I move around to “finished” kids, asking them to tell me 2 shape names of 2D shapes, and 3 shape names of 3D shapes. As our work groups are heterogeneously mixed, I can sneak a peek at the slower finishers and ask prompting questions, if needed.
When it seems like we’re almost entirely finished, and the kiddos are just dying to eat their math, I bring on my teacher fun-factor, with a devilish smile. “Girls and boys, you have all sorted your 2D and your 3D shapes so beautifully… you have worked hard and used new vocabulary…” The kids just know that I am going to let them loose to chow down on their snacks. Poor turkeys.
“I am worried about your families, though, friends, “ I say with my hand over my heart. “How will they know the excellent math we did today if we simply bring home empty sorting mats?” I say with mock concern.
Kids announce emphatically that they will tell them what we sorted. One turkey whom I absolutely adore announces with customary candor, “She never looks through my folder anyways—she won’t ask!”
I say we should probably use our tools (MP.5) real quickly in one last way to draw a couple of shapes on each side—as notes for when we get home and we are talking about our learning that evening—so we can remember some of the things we sorted. I explain that I take notes in college, and they will, too when they go to college. (I am forever talking about college with them, as you know if you read through my lessons. Particularly at a Title I school though, these long-term expectations and opportunities need to be repeated frequently!)
A couple of my turkeys try to insist that they don’t need notes to remember, but I am persistent. Before we can snack, we must document, and I tell them that their “ticket” to snack is two 2D pictures on the 2D side, and three 3D pictures on the 3D side. I tell them I will be circulating to check their “notes” and clearing them for “snack-off.”
Oh boy, do the kiddos work quickly and with focus! As they raise their hands when they are finished, I ask them to name a couple shapes, and as they say the shape names, I provide specific feedback, like “Exactly!” or “Yes, cylinder,” with a smile, when I hear the attempt at cylinder is something like “sill-in-er.” Precision is important (MP.6), but encouragement is critical, as well.
Even during the much-awaited snacking time, I keep asking about shape names, particularly the new 3D names. The kids don’t mind stating shape names while they snack.
Some kiddos devour the entire contents of their snack baggies, while others put their leftovers in their backpacks.
The kids seem to know that I will be asking about their favorite part of math, and I get a variety of answers, from “snacking on the shapes,” to particular shape names, “cylinders!” in appreciation of the mini marshmallows. It’s great to get the students’ input, and the excitement for 3D shapes is contagious!