Building with Shapes

 After the students created the shape gazelle, shapes have become an integral part of many of our daily lessons.  The students take many opportunities to continue their work with shapes.  Some use an acrylic peg board created by one of our parents to practice making shapes.

But they are not just creating them, they also identify the shapes that they are creating.

One of our students has become particularly interested in shapes, so much so that he has pulled many of his classmates into his excitement.  He became more aware of all the shapes while building in the construction area of our classroom.  As he discussed his castle with his friends, the teacher began to notice how he was including the various names of the shapes in his conversations.

The teacher wanted to build on his knowledge and excitement, so she began to give him assignments that allowed him to utilize what he already knew.  Sean reviewed the shapes by identifying them through various assignments.

But he didn’t stop there.  He and Bishop worked together to draw pictures of each of the shapes and labeled them.

They created a circle,

a square,

a hexagon, and…

after a few cuts here and there, a pentagon.  There was much discussion as they problem-solved on how to create a pentagon.  Each of the students understood that a pentagon had five sides, but no matter how they cut it they still ended up with six sides.  They counted and recounted and began to become confused about which sides they had already counted.  They then settled on the idea of counting the “points” and realized that if they cut off one of the points they would get five sides.

They went on to create a triangle and

finally a semi-circle.  The fact that the students choose to produce the shapes instead of copying them or just labeling demonstrates a deeper understanding of shapes.  The students were no longer just identifying them; they were comprehending the shapes and applying that knowledge.  They were CREATING the shapes, which is much more difficult than identifying or drawing them.

 Sean’s excitement was so powerful, that others continued to join in.  Preston made his own series of shapes by adhering craft sticks together.

 The following day, Sean wanted to continue working with shapes. So he began to create them in the building area, but this time he added a few additional shapes.

He created a rhombus

and a rectangle in addition to the other shapes.

The teacher offered him the challenge of matching the names with the appropriate shapes.

He finished this task with no problems.  He was so proud of his work that he wanted to take pictures of his creations.  So the previous photos were all taken by Sean.  He also uploaded all of the pictures to the computer, resized them, and printed a copy so that they may be displayed in the classroom.  We take pride in allowing the children in using the camera and the computer for activities that the teacher would normally do.  We believe that with the proper guidance they are capable of much more than they are normally provided opportunities with.

The project did not stop there.  Sean and the teacher discussed his interest in both castles and shapes.  “How can we incorporate your knowledge of shapes with your love of castles?” the teacher pushed.

 He devised a floor plan of what his castle would look like.  His castle included a number of different shapes.  As he continued to work on his castle, the plan began to grow.  He added shapes and omitted others.  Everyone wanted to be involved.  He learned how to explain his vision and manage the other students so that they would create what he had envisioned.  Once the project was complete he beamed with pride.

Our philosophy is centered around creativity, observations, and problem solving.  The following graph shows the levels of intelligence and knowledge.  Evaluation which is creativity is at the highest level, while memorization is at the bottom.

In every opportunity that is possible, we provide the children with an opportunity to evaluate what they are learning, and CREATE using materials in order to reinforce their knowledge.

Our student did not simply draw a bunch of shapes. He applied his knowledge of the shapes by creating them on paper.  He synthesized the material by taking his knowledge of shapes and creating something with them.  They were able to think, problem solve, and have a such a rich learning experience with shapes, that they will be able to recall and continue to use this new knowledge.

This activity focused on the following learning goals:

(6)Geometry and measurement. The student applies mathematical process standards to analyze attributes of two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional solids to develop generalizations about their properties. The student is expected to:

(A) classify and sort regular and irregular two-dimensional shapes based on attributes using informal geometric language;

(B) distinguish between attributes that define a two-dimensional or three-dimensional figure and attributes that do not define the shape;

(C) create two-dimensional figures, including circles, triangles, rectangles, and squares, as special rectangles, rhombuses, and hexagons;

(D) identify two-dimensional shapes, including circles, triangles, rectangles, and squares, as special rectangles, rhombuses, and hexagons and describe their attributes using formal geometric language;

(E) identify three-dimensional solids, including spheres, cones, cylinders, rectangular prisms (including cubes), and triangular prisms, and describe their attributes using formal geometric language;

(F) compose two-dimensional shapes by joining two, three, or four figures to produce a target shape in more than one way if possible;



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