Working with Shapes: Hands on with 2 and 3-d Shapes

We've been working on shapes.  And I spent tons of time planning lots of fun, engaging learning activities to help them practice identifying shapes, finding shapes in the environment, and making things with shapes.  Well, this year, I threw caution to the wind and did two things I've never done before:  I let my kids build flat shapes with geoboards, using geoboard task cards.  Usually we build shapes on the geoboard while I model the shape or tell them what to build.  This year, I actually let them build shapes.  I also did something I've never done at all before: I let my kids build 3-d shapes with marshmallows and toothpicks!

First, we practiced building shapes with the geoboards.  I got these geoboard cards from my friend Susan from My Happy Place!  They worked out great- I pulled out the cards I wanted to use, and I laminated them and put them out on the table.  The kids really loved being able to use the geoboards to make different shapes.  I was really impressed at how focused they stayed.  Believe it or not, there weren't any rubber bands flying around the classroom!  We had practiced making different shapes as a guided whole group lesson before, so they had some experience with the rubber bands and geoboards before I set them loose.

I like these geoboard cards because they allow them to make different objects using shapes.  For example, this umbrella is a trapezoid.

And this butterfly is made of triangles!  

You can find these Geoblock cards here.

Then, we practiced making both flat and solid shapes with marshmallows and toothpicks.  I've never done this in the past, because I've always imagined toothpick sword fights and kids building things they aren't supposed to!  But this year, I went ahead and tried it.  And I'm so glad I did!

I created both flat and solid Shape Building cards.  I laminated them and cut them out.  I had 2 of each card at the table, so multiple kids could build the same shape at the same time.  I color coded the cards:  red for flat shapes, and blue for solid shapes.

I modeled how to create the different shapes with the toothpicks and marshmallows.  I showed them how to build the flat shapes first, before graduating to the solid shapes once they felt comfortable building the flat shapes.

Then, I just let them build!

I love how this little sweetie is studying that card, trying to figure out how to make this 3-d shape.

They took different approaches. 

I put plates on the tables to help contain any stickiness, but clearly the kids didn't even bother to use them!

The best part is, they were all successful!
I was so surprised and impressed with how well they did.  Even with the solid shapes, which I expected they would have some trouble with.


 I like how she created 2 shapes and put them together to make a house.

I will definitely be doing this again next year!   I was so impressed with how well they did with the shapes, and they had a great time!

What is your favorite way to teach shapes?