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Learning About 3D Shapes

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This post is sponsored by Spielgaben, creators of heirloom quality manipulatives. Get your set here.

Understanding shapes is often the first step students take when learning about geometry. Luckily, most young students are fascinated with shapes- first learning to recognize (and love) balls as babies, and quickly being able to separate two dimensional shapes into groups as they get older.

For this lesson, we explored some more complicated two dimensional shapes, and learned more about three dimensional shapes. Most of the ideas in this lesson came from our Spielgaben Play Guide curriculum that came along with the manipulative set.

Learning about two dimensional shapes

Name 2D shapes: I started by tracing one face of each of the Spielgaben 3D shapes onto foam paper, and cut them out. Little Miss and I worked together to name the shapes I had drawn, and we wrote the names onto the foam paper.

Match 2D shapes with the faces of 3D shapes: Next, Little Miss matched the 2D shapes we cut out to their corresponding faces on the 3D shapes. We practiced naming the 2D shapes as we worked.

Count the edges and angles: As we worked, we counted the edges of each shape, and I quizzed her on the names and number of edges on each shape.

Learning about three dimensional shapes:

Have your child be the teacher: Little Miss took the time to name each of the 3D shapes for her baby brother as she worked. (Homeschool tip: older siblings make fantastic “teachers” for little ones — they get to build their skills with a captive audience, and the little ones get to feel important!) 

Match the faces of different 3D shapes: After matching the 2D shapes and 3D faces, Little Miss explored the stack of 3D shapes to see if any of their faces matched. As we matched faces, we talked about how 3D shapes have Faces, Edges, and and Corners.

Explore what makes shapes similar, and what makes them different: We learned that some shapes may have faces that are the same shape, but if they have different numbers of edges and corners, they are different shapes.

Build your shapes: To take this activity a step further, we built 3D shapes with toothpicks and marshmallows.

First, she named the shapes that made up the faces of the 3D object. Then, she counted the edges and the corners and collected her supplies. If the shape had 5 corners, she needed 5 marshmallows. If it had 7 edges, she needed 7 toothpicks. Once she had her supplies together, she built her shapes!

Match your built shapes to their 3D counterpart: As she built, she placed the corresponding 3D shape within her marshmallow and toothpick structure.

See the lesson in action here:

Need manipulatives for your home? Consider investing in a Spielgaben set! These heirloom quality manipulatives will last for years to come. The set comes with guides to use the manipulates across your curriculum in the elementary grades. Fill out the form on their website for a discount.

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