Monday, March 7, 2016

The Shape of Things

When it comes time to teach shapes in first grade, there are always students who struggle. Some students think all shapes with four sides are rectangles while others fail to realize that no matter how you rotate a triangle, if it has 3 sides, it’s a triangle! To help our students develop a firm grasp on shape identification we made this book.

Each student gets a book with a cover and four pages divided in half (one for each basic shape). On one side, students draw examples of each shape and on the other they draw non-examples. For instance, one page says, “These are rectangles.” and “These are not rectangles.”

Once students have polished their shape identification skills it’s time to discuss the different attributes of shapes (i.e. how many sides, vertices, and right angles each shape has). Sides are simple. They learn those in Kindergarten so we simply remind them it’s a straight line on the shape. Vertex and vertices are a little tougher since they generally use the word corners in kindergarten. Our content word wall helps us a lot here! If students are having difficulty, we put the words “corner,” “vertex” and “vertices” on one line to show students they are synonyms.
After a few days, most students have mastered this new vocabulary. Finally we introduce right angles. Our brilliant math interventionist has students physically make a right angle using their arms. They put up one arm and say, “right” and then the other and say, “angle.” It’s a great multisensory approach to this math lesson. After students are able to describe the traits of various shapes, I use two SMARTBoard lessons I created to have students sort shapes and determine which shape does not belong in a group of shapes. When students select their answer they have to explain which attribute makes it so that the shape does not belong. It’s a fun challenge that makes students use their knowledge of shape attributes. **Note- to open the file I've attached, you must be on a computer that has SMART Notebook software installed on it.

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