Let's Face It: How Plane Shapes Compose 3D Shapes

8 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


Students will be able to describe the plane shapes that compose 3D shapes.

Big Idea

The students have a strong understanding of plane shapes. Now they get to use this information to better understand 3D shapes in this hands-on activity.


10 minutes

For this lesson, I use my Magformer magnet blocks.  These blocks come in a variety of plane shapes and they are ideal for students to use to make 3D shapes.  Although they are a bit expensive, they have been a wonderful addition to my classroom and are played with all the time.  I would recommend adding them to your classroom if you have the resources to purchase some.  If you do not have these blocks, there is an alternate opening activity included with the lesson.  You would also need some 3D manipulatives. 

I place some of the magnetic blocks on each of the tables.  I say to the students, I want everyone to find a square and hold it up in the air.  Now, I want you to work as a table to make a cube (I hold up the shape for them to see).  The students work together and create the cube.  I ask them some questions.  How many squares did you use?  Are they all the same size?  I have them disassemble the cube and then I ask them to work as a table to make a pyramid.  I again question the students as to what shapes they used to make a pyramid and how many of those shapes they used.    I tell the students, Today, we are going to really look at 3D shapes.  We are going to figure out what plane shapes make up 3D shapes.  Let’s clean up our blocks and move over to the SMARTBoard.

***Alternative activity.  Take a cube and press it into an ink pad or paint on one face.  Put the impression on a piece of paper.  Put all the shapes on a table and then give the students the paper.  Have the students sort the shapes by which ones could have made the impression and which ones could not.

Direct Instruction

15 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, I use my SMARTBoard.  If you have a SMARTBoard, the file Plane Shapes into 3D Shapes can easily be downloaded and opened.  If you have a different type of interactive whiteboard, you can still use this lesson by opening the file in Smart Notebook Express.  There is also a pdf of the slides so you can recreate this part of the lesson.  

I gather my students in front of the SMARTBoard.  I have cards with each student's name printed on.  These cards are used for selecting who will come up to the SMARTBoard.

I open the first slide (SMARTBoard Slide 1) with the lesson objective written in "student friendly" terms.  There is a content objective and a language objective to help focus on vocabulary expansion for my English Learners (ELs) to be congruent with SIOP instructional techniques. I read these objectives aloud for my students.

Content Objective

I can identify what plane shapes make up the faces of 3D shapes.


Language Objective

I can tell a friend what plane shapes make up a 3D shape.


Slide 2:  We know that most 3D shapes are made up of the plane shapes we know.  Circle the shapes that make up this rectangular prism.  I invite two students to come up to the board and circle the shapes they see.  I have them point to the shape on the 3D shape. 


Slides 3-5:  Continue as above.


Slide 6:  It is now Turn and Talk time.  During Turn and Talk, my students work with a partner to practice their academic language.  This is especially valuable for my English Language Learners.  The students hold hands with their designated Turn and Talk partner and raise them in the air so I know everyone has a partner. 

I ask them the question, What is one shape that makes up this cone?  I give the students time to talk, but it doesn’t take long.  I remind them to put their answer in sentence form.    I call on a student and the student says the cone has a circle.  I restate the student’s answer for the class saying, A cone has a face that is a circle.  I have them repeat the sentence to build on their language skills.  This modeling and practice of language is essential for the students’ mastery of English.

Guided Instruction

15 minutes

For this part of the lesson, you will need 3D shapes and clay for each child.  I ordered individual 3D shapes from Oriental Trading.   These shapes are inexpensive and perfect for geometry lessons.  Each child gets a set of these shapes.  I put them in small bags.  There are enough colors so each student at my tables can have a different color and I don’t have issues with them getting mixed up.  I also give each child a party-favor size can of Playdough.  You can make your own clay for use in this lesson too - there's loads of online sites that provide recipes and walk you through it.

I have the students flatten the clay into a pancake.  I ask them to find the cube in their bag of and hold it up for me to see.  I then ask them to press the cube into the clay and to raise their hand and tell me what shape they see.  We discuss whether there are different shapes or all the same kind of shapes.  We continue on with the other shapes discussing the types of plane shapes they are seeing and the number of these shapes.   The students enjoy exploring the 3D shapes in this matter.  See video

After we have pressed several shapes into the clay, we clean up the clay and prepare for independent practice.  The students will need the 3D shapes for the next part of the lesson. 

Independent Practice and Informal Assessment

10 minutes

For this section of the lesson, you will need Identify the Plane Shapes on the 3D Shapes included with this lesson.  I distribute copies of the activity sheet to the students and have them put their names on the top. 

I tell the students, You are going to be looking for the plane shapes that make up 3D shapes.  Look at the 3D shape on your paper, then look at the other shapes in the rectangle.  Color in the shapes that make up the 3D shapes.  Sometimes there will be one, sometimes there will be more.  Color in every plane shape that you find on the 3D shape in the rectangle. 

The students begin working.  They look at their 3D shapes as needed for reference.  When they are done, I check their work.  The mistakes I most often see is that students have missed a shape.  Today, no one circles an incorrect shape.  The students put their work in their mailbox and clean up their area.