My kids love 3-D shapes even more than they love 2-D shapes! They are super excited to learn everything they can about them, so that makes my job very easy. As always, hands-on exploration is essential in order for students to develop a solid understanding of 3-D shapes. So we play and explore a lot!
I let the kids explore 3-D shapes by building, stacking, rolling, etc. Then, together, we create an achor chart. We describe the shapes using both formal and informal language (so the kids can build on their schema) and record the information on the chart. In the beginning, the kids will call spheres "circles" and cubes "squares," but they learn the correct names very quickly. Although I introduce the vocabulary--face, base, point, edge--I do not require my kids to memorize it. We're just building that foundation. We compare the 3-D shapes to their 2-D counterparts and talk a lot about the 2-D shapes we see in the 3-D versions.
Then we think of examples in real life--and this is where the real fun begins! I challenge the kids to go home and find as many examples of 3-D shapes as they can and bring them into school. We create a Kindergarten Shape Museum! We find a very special place in the room and add to the museum as the week progresses. We talk about the objects the kids bring in--What shape is it? How do you know? What do you see?
Here are just a few examples of objects that make their way into the museum...
After a couple of weeks, all the shapes go back home. But the kids never stop looking for 3-D shapes. They point them out all year long!
We also do 3-D shape recording sheets for our math journals. First, the kids write about the shapes. Some kids use formal mathematical language, and other kids use everyday language. It just depends on where they are in their understanding.
You can download these pages here: Download 3-D Shapes
And like so many other things, we compare and contrast different shapes--2D and 3D. Not only does this reinforce concepts and vocabulary, it really promotes critical thinking.
So check back soon to see what we do!