GREAT SHAPES ALIVE!
You re probably familiar with the riddle, "When is a door
not a door? When it s ajar." How about this riddle? "When is a
cylinder a rectangle?" Give up?
From this lesson your students will find the answer to this riddle and
the relationship between three-dimensional objects and their
building blocks. Students will also view a video segment of an imaginary
world where the Flatys feel inferior to the Roundys, leading students to
construct familiar three-dimensional objects from their two- dimensional
shapes. A final activity will highlight students discoveries of the two-
and three- dimensional objects found within the physical and natural
of their school.
Math Works, #5: Exploring Geometric Shapes
Students will be able to:
- identify the difference between a two-dimensional shape and a three
- construct a simple model of a cone, cube, cylinder, rectangular
and triangular pyramid
- diagram and identify the two-dimensional shapes which make up a
cube, cylinder, rectangular prism and triangular pyramid
- describe in writing how each of these three-dimensional objects is
- locate two- and three-dimensional objects within the classroom and
the school building
SUGGESTED LIST: Select three containers from this list: oatmeal box,
box, raisin box, milk carton (any size), brown lunch bag, cereal box,
bag of potato chips or pretzels
- paper towel/toilet paper tube
- paper coffee filter (Mr. Coffee style)
- stick of butter/margarine-chilled, wrapped
- an orange
- Container Chart--Appendix A
For each student pair:
Whole class access to: crayons, markers, colored pencils, glue, scissors,
single hole punch, colored yarn, construction paper
- Shape Up sheet (Appendix B--Worksheets 1a, 1b, 2) one piece of
paper--12 x 15 inches
- glue or tape
In preparation for the video segment of this lesson, it will
be important for you to assess your students understanding of two- and
shapes and objects. It will also be important for your students to have
a basic understanding that three-dimensional objects are comprised of
two-dimensional shapes. By taking apart familiar objects such as a paper
towel tube, students will begin to see this relationship and relate it to
other examples in and out of the classroom.
In order to assess what your students know about two- and
shapes and objects and their construction relationship, gather three
containers from the Suggested Materials list along with the paper
paper tube, stick of butter/margarine, paper coffee filter and an
Review with the students the simple geometric shapes of a square,
rectangle and circle by drawing them on the chalkboard and by locating
of these shapes within your classroom. Explain to your students that
are two-dimensional shapes have only length and height. Identify and
the length and height of each shape.
Next, hold up the paper towel/toilet paper tube and ask: Is this a
shape? Students shouldn t recognize it as such, because it is not flat
the simple shapes previously discussed.
Ask: What makes this tube different from a two-dimensional shape like a
circle or a square? Students should suggest ideas leading to a
of a three-dimensional object which has length, height, and width
Identify the length, height and width of the tube and also identify the
tube as a cylinder.
Ask: What two-dimensional shape will we have if we cut the tube
Listen to the predictions of students, cut the tube vertically and
it out. Hold it up and again ask students what two-dimensional shape
a cylinder. They should respond by saying a rectangle.
On a Container Chart (Appendix A) poster, record your findings. Plan to
display the disassembled objects for students to refer to during the
Then hold up the paper coffee filter. Ask: What two-dimensional shape is
used to make this filter? Then hand the filter to a student volunteer and
ask her/him to flatten it out on top of a desk. Ask: What did you find
The student should recognize the flattened filter as a circle.
Repeat this with the stick of wrapped butter/margarine. Ask students to
identify and count the two-dimensional shapes that make up the stick (2
squares, 4 rectangles=6 shapes). Next, ask students to predict the
shape of the wrapper. Ask for a student volunteer to unwrap the
and discuss your findings. Record them on the chart.
Next, hand out the three containers to student volunteers and ask them to
take the objects apart in order to reveal their two-dimensional building
shapes. Once completed, have the students trace their disassembled
on the chalkboard revealing its actual two-dimensional shapes and then
To give students a specific responsibility while viewing, ask
them to give a thumbs up sign whenever they recognize a three-dimensional
object from the Previewing Activity during the video segment. In
ask them to be listening for any new classifying or descriptive
about an object which needs to be added to the Comments column on the
Note to Teacher: Prior to viewing, cover the television
with acetate, plastic wrap or other clear, markable material and have a
water soluble or overhead pen ready for use during the video segment. You
will also need a spray bottle containing water and paper toweling for
the screen in between pauses.
START video after the opening credits at the Math Works
PAUSE video on the close up of Jason ( younger boy) lying on the
floor with his building blocks after Nancy says . . .so please chill out.
Ask: Are these building blocks two or three dimensional? Once students
three dimensional, RESUME video.
PAUSE video on the close-up of Nancy s blender diagram, after she
says, I want to make sure I know how these pieces go back together. Ask:
Is a diagram two or three dimensional? Students should respond two
Ask a student who responds correctly to explain why. Her answer should
the ideas that it s flat and has no depth. RESUME video.
PAUSE video: After Roy (older boy) says to Nancy, Can you hear
A lot of shaping words coming out of your mouth. Ask: What are some of
shaping words Nancy just used? Replay a short segment prior to pausing if
the students have a difficult time remembering. The shaping words used by
Nancy include square, circular and cylindrical. Ask: What two-dimensional
shape does the word circular refer to? Answer: circle. Ask: What
shape does cylindrical refer to? Answer: cylinder. RESUME
PAUSE video after Nancy says, It s funny, one moment you re seeing
something in three dimensions all together and the next. . . Ask: What
object is Nancy now seeing in two dimensions? Answer: the blender she s
taken apart. RESUME video.
PAUSE video: On the photograph of a fire station ask: What
shapes do you see? Trace out each shape with the marking pen as the
identify them. Wipe screen clean. RESUME video.
PAUSE video when Roy says, There s a circular shape on the
photo of a child s face. Ask: "What circular shape is Roy referring
to? Have the student who correctly identifies the shape come up and trace
it with the marking pen. Wipe screen clean. RESUME video.
PAUSE video: After Nancy says, There s a triangular one. . . on a
photo of a door. Ask: What two-dimensional object does triangular refer
to? Students should respond triangle. RESUME video.
PAUSE video after Nancy says, There s a pyramid on the photo of a
building with a pyramidal top. Ask: Where is the pyramid? Have a student
volunteer trace out the pyramid on the video screen. Ask the student:
two-dimensional side can we see? Student should answer a triangle. To
prediction skills, say: Although we can t see all of the sides, how many
triangles do you think make up this pyramid? If the students doesn t
four ask the class to help out. Even if the students still don t guess
ask: What two-dimensional shape makes up the base of this pyramid? Once
students guess a square ask: Now how many triangles make up this pyramid?
Students should respond easily now with four. Wipe screen clean.
PAUSE video on the photo of the three smokestacks. As a review of
the Previewing Activity, ask: Is this a cylinder? Students should respond
yes. Ask: If we cut this cylinder vertically and flattened it out what
shape would we have? Students should recognize the comparison with the
towel/toilet paper tube and respond rectangle. RESUME video.
PAUSE video after host says, Here s a cube. Ask: How many sides
a cube have? Students should respond six. Ask: What two-dimensional shape
makes up those six sides? Students should respond squares. RESUME
PAUSE video after narrator of cartoon says, . . .where they all
a flat existence indeed on a close-up of the Flatys yawning. Ask: Are the
Flatys two or three dimensional? Students should answer two dimensional
and be able to explain why. RESUME video.
PAUSE video after narrator says, They were all real hunks on a
of the Roundys. Ask: Are the Roundys two or three dimensional? Why?
should respond three dimensional with additional information on
the object. RESUME video.
PAUSE video after narrator says, If only they could be good, solid
citizens instead of being skinny and wimpy. In order to make a
ask: What suggestions would you make to the Flatys about their feelings?
Allow students to share their ideas and RESUME video.
PAUSE video after the two circular Flatys say, We could make
into a cylinder. Ask: Do the predictions of these Flatys match any of our
observations from the Container Chart? Depending upon the containers you
chose, students should be able to recognize the correlation between your
class data and the Flatys predictions. RESUME video.
STOP video after the narrator says, Who were really nothing but a
lot of flat shapes stuck together when you came to think of
At the conclusion of the video segment ask: What did the Flat
Earthers learn about themselves that made them realize their similarities
to the Round Earthers? Students should answer with ideas about how the
Earthers two-dimensional shapes were responsible for the formation of the
Round Earthers three-dimensional design.
Refer back to the Previewing Activities and ask: How could we make a
of the containers we examined before the video like Nancy did? Students
should respond by suggesting to trace around the various sides of the
containers. In order to reinforce lesson objectives ask: Is a diagram two
dimensional or three dimensional? Why? Students' answers will lead
defining the term diagram. Record students ideas about this definition
style next to the term written on the chalkboard. Repeat this process for
the other terms on the chalkboard mentioned as a Focus for Viewing before
the video. Ask for two student volunteers to write up a completed version
of the definitions as an extra credit assignment. The completed
may be written on poster board and then displayed in the classroom.
Next, divide your class into pairs and hand out Shape Up sheets (Appendix
B--Worksheets 1a, 1b, 2) to each pair. Depending on your own style, hand
out or refer to the additional materials needed to complete this activity
(see Materials section--Part One). Explain to the whole class that this
activity will give them practice constructing their own Round Earthers
two- dimensional diagrams. Each students pair needs to cut out and
the three-dimensional objects from Worksheet 1a and 1b and complete the
data chart on Worksheet 2 as they work. Students may color and/or
the three-dimensional objects as they choose.
Once all of the objects are constructed, have student pairs arrange the
objects into a freestanding sculpture on the piece of construction paper.
Students will not need to secure the sculpture onto the paper until they
complete the next activity. Tell student pairs they are responsible for
writing a descriptive paragraph about their sculpture. Encourage students
to observe their sculpture from various positions, i.e., rotating it; and
points of view, i.e., while standing over it, at eye level, and decide as
a pair what perspective they most enjoy. Their paragraph needs to include
a name for the sculpture and must describe the sculpture from their
perspective. The writing will provide insight into the pairs
of the lesson objectives, as well as serve as an excellent opportunity to
explore and write from different points of view.
After the sculptures and descriptions are finished, spend some class time
allowing pairs to share their projects. Ask: How did you decide on the
of the sculpture? Did you make many changes while designing it? Does your
sculpture have a base or did you rely on all of the objects working
Now, as one student holds up the sculpture, have her/his partner read
description aloud. Ask: How did you name your sculpture? What various
did you try before deciding on one?
As a concluding activity, hold up an orange and say, Nature also provides
us with two- and three-dimensional examples. What three-dimensional shape
is this? Students need to identify this as a sphere.
Have students make predictions by asking: What two-dimensional shape can
make up a sphere? Allow students to respond with their ideas, but do not
tell them the correct answer.
Slice the orange in half horizontally and show students the exposed
shaped sections. Again ask: Now what two-dimensional shape to you think
makes up a sphere? Students should respond triangles. To reinforce this
concept, make a slice of orange 1/4 -1/2 thick. Carefully slice through
one side of one orange section (Figure 1). Gently pull the slice apart
should separate it into several triangles (Figure 2). Ask: How many
do you see? If we continue to cut this orange into slices and separate
like this, can you predict how many triangles would make up this orange?
Students predictions will vary.
FIGURE 1 FIGURE 2 cutting line
Continue discussing examples of two and three dimensional objects in
by asking students to share additional ideas they have. Stimulate
by asking: What two-dimensional shapes did the video mention? Can your
make two- or three-dimensional shapes or objects?
PART TWO As a whole class activity, plan to make a tour of your school
out the various two- and three-dimensional physical and natural features
it has. During the initial tour you take with your students, have them
their own observations of such features in a notebook or by using the
data chart from Appendix C. Because you re working towards a tour others
will share, emphasize to students the importance of writing their
in the order they observe them.
After the first tour, divide students into groups of 4 or 5 and have each
group compile a list of the collected observations composed of their
s favorite six to eight choices. From this listing, make a class list
of the top choices from all of the groups, probably numbering around 20
depending on your class size. Arrange these points of interest in a
tour order, consulting your students in the process.
If possible, have a parent volunteer make photos of each point of
If not, assign your students to the various points and have them make
own drawings, and then compile a tour portfolio of the photos or
If you are able to make a video, use your students as the tour guides
As you put the portfolio together, hole punch each sheet, use string for
the binding and include extra sheets at the end. Then share your tour
another class. Following their tour, perhaps they can add additional
which can be included on the extra sheets.
Once the class s Shapes Tour Portfolio is complete, present
it to another class and invite them to take your tour. Perhaps the other
class will make their own discoveries and add to the book. Include
blank pages to the end of the portfolio for additional ideas.
If a video tour is created, invite classroom parents in to view it and
the tour for themselves.
Have students create a Shapes Tour of their home (inside or out) or
Have students bring in empty containers from home (perhaps from the
Materials list), disassemble and camouflage them and create a riddle for
others to guess what the container was originally used for . Then place
their shape riddles and disassembled containers in a school display case
for a schoolwide contest. Perhaps a simple prize can be created for
Language Arts: Write a follow up episode to the Flat
Earth Society cartoon.
Read the Dr. Seuss favorite, The Sneeches, and have students compare and
contrast it to the Flat Earth Society cartoon.
Create a class dictionary including definitions for the terms from the
segment and all of the two- and three- dimensional shapes and objects
Encourage students to consider adding any original drawings or diagrams
that will enhance their definitions.
Social Studies: As a whole class, view the landscape architect
of the selected Math Works video. As a class, brainstorm other
that use geometric shapes and objects as part of their work.
Invite an architect into your class to share and discuss a portfolio of
Research into the life of Frank Lloyd Wright. (Access information through
CD-Rom programs such as Grolier s Encyclopedia.)
Science: Create Challenge Stations for further research into
and geometric shapes in nature. With a small portion of table salt and
and a magnifying glass, students can compare and contrast the two types
of crystals. Students should record their findings as well as draw a
diagram representing the two samples.
Access to other mineral/crystal collections (even pictures from books)
students to examine will reveal naturally occurring geometric shapes.
students to construct models of the crystals they examine using their new
knowledge about how three-dimensional objects are formed.
Create a challenge question posing the following predictions, How many
triangles would it take to cover an orange? How many three-inch triangles
would it take to cover a basketball?
Music: Select several musical segments for students to listen to
which represent a variety of rhythms and textures such as a polka,
waltz, rap and classical symphony. Allow students to draw the geometric
shapes and objects they hear in the music. Students should share and
Introduce the students to square-dancing. Point out the various shapes a
square dance forms, and ask students to explain how square-dancing
Encourage students to create a triangle or a circle dance.
Introduce the popular Country Western line dancing.
Master Teacher: Ollire Lane Dunn
Lesson Plan Database
Thirteen Ed Online