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!
Hide & Seek
Play a simple game where one shape is missing and hiding in the classroom. Can the children find it?
Give students a sticker with a picture of a shape to wear for the day. That is their new name for the day!
Guess My Shape
Pair students together. One student has a label of a shape on their back and they can ask yes or no questions about the shape in order to guess what shape it is!
4 Corners – 3D Figure Edition
Post the 3D figures around the room. One student has their head down and the other students have 10 seconds to stand at a 3D figure. The student keeps their head down and calls out a 3D figure. 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 3D figure. The game is over when either one student is left or a small number. I love the following freebie for this game:
Touch & Feel in a Mystery Bag
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!
What Do I Have?
In this whole group game, you need enough figures so each child and yourself has one and place them in the center of the carpet. The teacher goes and takes one first and then the students do.
The teacher is the “fantastic figure” 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., they both stack, they both roll, they both have two flat faces, it is a cylinder etc.)
What 3D figures can you make using building straws? Can you put multiple together to make something new?
Create a chart with students, looking and documenting the different attributes. This can be done as a whole group, small group or left out as a provocation to see who is interested.
Students bring in empty, used containers from home to create a grocery store using a variety of 3D figures.
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 3D figures under a blanket.
We sing the following poem as the bird goes under the blanket to hide a 3D figure 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!
Environmental Shape Hunt
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 or use a hands on activity like this one!
Figure Face Match
Trace the faces of the shapes onto a large sheet of paper. Have students match the face to all the figures they can find!
3D Figure Puzzles
My students absolutely love puzzles. I have a variety of different puzzles of 3D figures 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:
Play Dough Stamping
Explore 3D figures by stamping, comparing sizes, shapes and see if the students extend this activity into patterning!
Play Dough Moulds
Have 3D figures provided for students to see if they can copy them with play dough or to see if they can make a mold of it!
Can you make a tower, bridge or a castle using the 3D shapes?
Beautiful Junk Community
Have students bring 3D objects of beautiful junk from home and make a community together with these items! Challenge students about how many community helper locations they can create.
Use recycled objects to build a community (cereal boxes, tin cans etc). See if you can get an aerial photo of your community and see if students can replicate it!
Use recycled objects to build a robot. Host an art gallery when parents come to the classroom to show off their work. Share with learning buddies!
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?
Straws & Pipe Cleaners
Add these to a provocation to see which shape the children can make on their own.
Toothpicks & Marshmallows
Make 3D figures using toothpicks and small marshmallows. These can topple easily so I often take pictures of what the kids have created and then let them eat it afterward!
Cut up fresh fruit to make shapes. Let students be creative using fruit like bananas, apples, and grapes!
Plasticine & Straws
Make 3D figures with plasticine and straws!
Sugar Cube Building
Use sugar cubes and glue to build a structure! It usually takes overnight to dry properly. Make sure they are glued onto a piece of paper with each child’s name so they don’t get mixed up the next day!
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?
Have students test the various 3D figures provided on the table. Can the stack? Roll? Slide? Use a clipboard and a checklist to record answers or have students sort by what they are testing for.
Ramp Building – Does It Roll?
Provide an opportunity for students to create a variety of ramps, with a variety of lengths and angles, to test the shapes.
If you have access to an overhead projector, place a 3D figure on it and have students predict which figure it is only knowing the shadow!
Show & Share
After learning the shapes for a long time, host a special 3D shape day for each shape you have learned! Students can bring something from home for each “special” day. For instance, on the sphere day students may bring in a ball, globe or marble! Then sort and compare objects.
This is a What Game
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 cube!”
Student one: “A what?”
Teacher: “A cube!”
Student one: “Oh! A cube!”
Student one: “*Name,* this is a cube!”
Student two to student one: “A what?”
Student one to the teacher: “A what?”
Teacher: “A cube!”
Student one: “A cube!”
Student two: “Oh, a cube!”
Continue around the circle until everyone is participating in the round. The teacher can vary their voice each time and students copy. It can be a lot of fun!
Can you build it? A Barrier Game
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!
Explore 3D figures with building blocks or as a small building provocation. What can you build?
Use old recyclables or random objects to build and create in the snow (e.g., yogurt containers, apple sauce containers, funnels etc.).