Stack, Slide, & Roll!

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SWBAT describe 3D shape names and properties.

Big Idea

This lively, engaging activity gets students focusing on not only correct 3D shape names but attributes, as well.

Attention Grabber/Introduction

10 minutes

As students walk into the room, I say, “Today, friends, we are going to see how our 3D shapes work together!”

I ask students to identify 3D shapes, (and am silently "wowed" that we are really picking up our 3D shape names)!

Next, I explain that, since we are learning so much about 3D shapes, today we will see how 3D shapes can be moved.

I ask our student of the day, and a second helper who is sitting really quietly, (after, as you can imagine, the entire class practices sitting like statues in hopes of being chosen!). We use a white board for our flat surface, and some large foam 3D shapes.

I ask our helpers in the front of the class to see if it is possible to stack a cylinder. One helper holds our white board, and our student of the day stacks a cylinder on top of a cube and even stacks 2 cylinders on top of each other (MP.5). (Our buddy with the white board is challenged to balance them, but we all can clearly see that cylinders can be stacked!)

Next, I have the partners switch roles, with the board holder passing the white board to the student of the day, and I ask, “Can you slide a cylinder?”

The helper looks at me as if to say, “Huh?” and I ask if it is possible to slide the cylinder on the board. I give a hint and mention that you usually need a flat side to slide. This little guy is sharp as can be, (partly why I selected him to help, to be honest!), and he immediately figures out that I’m talking about one of the flat, circular ends.

As our helper holds the flat surface (the white board), our sliding tester sets the cylinder on the flat, circular end to demonstrate to the class how the cylinder can slide. Several “Oh”s can be heard from the class.

Ever fond of illuminating the obvious, I ask, “Can you slide a cylinder?” and students confirm, “Yes!”

Finally, we talk about roll. The demonstrating students switch jobs again, and the whole class laughs as the cylinder rolls off the white board—even faster than I can photograph it!

With a giggle, I ask, “Hmm, can you roll a cylinder?” and students confirm, “Yes!”

Guided Practice

15 minutes

I show our recording sheet on “the big screen,” noting that the cylinder is really special—we can stack it, we can slide it, and we can roll it.

We talk about our other 3D shapes, and how we are only going to glue them to a section of our recording sheet if we can actually stack, slide, or roll the 3D shape

My helper passes out recording sheets to all the students, and kids carefully begin cutting out all the 3D shapes. I use Airserver to take a picture of students gathering their shapes into small piles and project the picture on “the big screen” to show they are organized and ready to work with the shapes. The picture is projected up on “big screen,” and our organized buddies smile with pride at their work (MP.4).

I wait just a moment as students finish cutting and carefully piling their 3D shapes. As a class, we look carefully at our recording sheets, and we decide what we would do with cylinder, which was just demonstrated for us.

I ask the questions we just answered again—Can we stack cylinders? Can we slide cylinders? And, “Can we roll cylinders?”

Each time students affirm, “Yes,” I show my “Just a dot—not a lot—a little dab of glue will do,” to stick the cylinder pictures in each of the 3 sections. Students do the same at their seats (MP.4).

To stay all together, we stop a few times to put our hands up on our heads. As we practice the different types of movement the students actually practice the moves, stacking hands, hand-over-hand, sliding—holding one hand up over our heads and sliding a second hand down from the raised hand, and then rolling our hands to show rolling. This actual kid-movement helps us focus and have fun.

Independent Practice

15 minutes

After we practice recording the moves the cylinder can make, the students work independently to record the other shapes. I take a moment to make sure we have scrap cans on every table, and we talk about how only certain shapes will be able to do each action. I ask one of my super-obvious (but necessary) questions: “Can we glue a shape in a section if the shape can’t move that way?””

Students announce, “No!”

As students work independently, I make sure to circulate constantly, monitoring the students and asking clarifying questions or cueing students who seem to need a little support. The majority of students have the big idea of this activity, so when I stop by and see their work, I ask them to talk to me about what they’re doing, getting them to explain their thinking with precise language (MP.6).


10 minutes

Students share their favorite parts of the lesson today, especially noting the fun of showing the 3D shapes moving. We note the whole group movement fun, where everyone got to roll like a sphere rolling, and one student says he loves the scrap cans. Oh boy—only in kindergarten! (I do note that it’s important to take care of our tools, (MP.5) and scrap cans help us manage our materials.)