I love exploring math through a wide variety of activities. Here is a sampling of many activities I have done throughout the years and a collection of other ideas from teachers I work with. Feel free to add any additional activities in the comments below!
Explore 2D shapes by comparing sizes of shapes, cutting them out with utensils and even try to see if the students extend this activity into patterning!
Have 2D shapes provided for students to see if they can copy them with play dough or to see if they can make a mould of it!
Can you make a picture representation using a variety of different shapes?
In a circle, the shape is passed one child at a time. The teacher passes the shape to child one and says,
Teacher: “*Name,* this is a square!”
Student one: “A what?”
Teacher: “A square!”
Student one: “Oh! A square!”
Student one: “*Name,* this is a square!”
Student two to student one: “A what?”
Student one to the teacher: “A what?”
Teacher: “A square!”
Student one: “A square!”
Student two: “Oh, a square!”
Continue around the circle until everyone participates in the round. The teacher can vary their voice each time and students copy. It can be a lot of fun!
Post images of 2D figures around the room. One student has their head down and the other students have 10 seconds to stand at a 2D shape. The student keeps their head down and calls out a 2D shape. All the students under the shape are out of the game and sit on the carpet. Then we have 10 seconds to rotate to a new shape. The game is over when either one student is left or a small number. I use the following activity to play:
One student picks a shape from a bag. Using their senses, they can either describe the shape with what they know about it or the other students can ask them questions to try to guess what figure it is!
In this whole group game, you need enough figures so each child and yourself has one and place them in the centre of the carpet. The teacher goes and takes one first and then the students do. The teachers is the “super shape” and students answer questions you pose for them. For instance, you may ask them, “How is your figure the same/different than mine?” Show your figure. Take turns, one student at a time, sharing how they are similar to your figure. (e.g., how many edges, points, is it curved, etc.)
What 2D shape can you make using building straws? Can you put multiple together to make something new?
I love using poems to reinforce knowledge of concepts. It makes learning fun! This is the link to the poem I use:
We have a bird puppet who hides 2D shapes under a blanket. We sing the following poem as the bird goes under the blanket to hide 2D shapes on the children.
After the poem is sung, the children have a chance to guess which object is missing! Add multiple shapes of different colours or sizes to change up the difficulty! We often have students who can easily figure out which shape is missing from a selection of 15 objects presented to them!
Look around the school with your classroom iPad and take pictures of objects around your school made up with different shapes. You can compare manmade vs nature outside. Print these images afterward and have a sorting activity with the images! You could even create a book with the images the students found.
My students absolutely love puzzles. I have a variety of different puzzles of 2D shapes with images of everyday objects. Students match the shapes of the objects and then create the puzzles. These can be out as a provocation or provided as an art activity for them to glue and take home. Click on the images below to view:
Students can bring in a mystery item from home and the other students need to guess what the item is based upon simple questions about the shapes. For example, does it roll? Does it slide? Does it have six faces?
Add these to a provocation to see which shape the children can make on their own.
Create 2D shapes with plasticine. Add toothpicks as a provocation to see what shapes they can create by drawing int he plasticine.
Print out a variety of different photographs of various objects and buildings. Ask students what they see. Do you see 2D shapes or 3D figures? Which ones do you see?
If you have access to an overhead projector, place a 2D shape based on the shadow. Use multiple shapes to make another shape or an image and have students guess which shapes are used.
After learning the shapes for a long time, host a special 2D shape day for each of the shapes you have learned! Students can bring something from home for each “special” day. For instance, on the “circle day” students may bring in a can lid, craft face or a sign! Then sort and compare objects that are brought in.
Provide a station for two students with a divider in the middle. Each child needs the same shapes. One student creates a picture/structure with their figure and then they instruct the second child how to build it. See if they can use the correct names or have them describe the shapes without showing the figures and only using verbal directions!
Use old recyclables or random objects to build and create in the snow (e.g., yogurt containers, applesauce containers, funnels etc.).