Geometry Ideas
Linda Longpre
Pre Cam Elementary School
La Ronge, Saskatchewan

   The geometry strand helps children to describe, compare, classify, represent and relate to objects in their environment. Experiences with real objects that are both two-dimensional (plane) and three-dimensional (space) provide children with opportunities to discover attributes and relationships among the geometric shapes. Geometry can very easily be integrated with the visual art strand of the arts curriculum.
  Following is a collection (from a variety of sources) of geometry ideas that could be adapted for use in elementary classrooms.
  • Precut construction paper rectangles, squares, circles, trapezoids, etc. Pretend you are a spider sitting on the ceiling. Create a map of your classroom using the precut shapes. Add details.

  • Cut one side off a cardboard shoe box. Cut two hand-holes on the opposite side. Place an assortment of shapes inside the box. Person A inserts his hands into the box and tries to find two matching shapes. Person B verifies his choice, etc.

  • Children can classify and sort three-dimensional shapes according to various attributes. Test to see which roll, slide or both.

  • Place several familiar objects (e. g., ball, pencil, etc.) on a table. Have children view the objects for a limited time. Cover. Have children recall the cylinder shapes, spheres, etc.
    Variation: Play "20 Questions", Teacher chooses an object and the student must ask geometry questions to identify the object.
    Teacher answers „yesš or „noš to questions. How many questions does it take?

  • In groups of two, three or four and using 6-8 m of yarn, work together to make a square, rectangle, triangle, hexagon, pentagon, etc. How many corners will your shape have? How many sides? Will the sides be different sizes? Will the edges be straight or curved. Can you find similar shape objects in the room, school-yard, etc.?

  • Using geometric shape models, reproduce these using toothpicks and marshmallows (or carrot slices, frozen peas, plasticine, etc.)
    Variation: Create your own structures.
  • Make two equilateral triangles using five toothpicks. Make five triangles, using nine toothpicks, then take away three toothpicks to leave one triangle. Make four squares using twelve toothpicks.

  • Go on a shape walk. Record the shapes you observe and where you find them.
    Variation: Divide the class into groups. Give each group one shape and have them record things that have the shapes they are carrying.

  • Children can create a geometry shape such as a square (Shape A) on the geoboard, then change Shape A into Shape B (a triangle shape) noting necessary movements and changes.

  • Children can illustrate real-life shapes on the geoboard (e. g., a box, arrow, traffic signs, etc.)

  • Person A mentally chooses a shape displayed amidst a collection of shapes on a table. He gives Person B a clue describing his shape. Person B tries to guess what the shape is each time a new clue is given. How many clues were needed to identify the secret shape?

  • Using attribute blocks, make a one-way change train. Each shape differs from the previous one in only one attribute.
    Variation: Make two-way or three-way change trains.

  • Use a tracer shape set and draw the various shapes. Fold the paper shapes to determine the various lines of symmetry. How many lines of symmetry does each shape have?

  • Giving specific directions, children create shapes on the geoboard. Make a square and a parallelogram. Touch eleven pins all together. Touch three pins twice.
    Variation: make a pentagon that touches eight pins.

  • Give each child a half-sheet of clean paper. Challenge children to cover complete area using pattern blocks.
    Variation: match congruent (same size, same shape) two-dimensional figures using pattern blocks.

  • Using pattern blocks, find out what you can do in one minute. How many triangles can you join together? How many squares, hexagons, etc.? What design did you make?

  • Using geoshapes, build a free-standing tower in five minutes. Predict how tall it will be using comparisons in the classroom (e. g., bigger than a chain).

  • Use nets and fold them. Identify the shape you created. Discuss differences and similarities between your shape and your friend‚s shape.

  • Choose two geometric shapes. Talk about how the pieces are the same and different.

  • Choose a geoshape that is different in one way from another shape you choose. Find a piece that is different in two ways from another.

  • Play "Chain Game" using attribute blocks. Person A puts down a piece. Person B joins a piece which is different in only two ways, etc. Game over when one player uses all his/her shapes or no one can use a piece.

  • Place a screen between two players. Person A makes a flat two-dimensional design using five geoshapes without Person B seeing. Person A tells Person B how to make the same design without watching what Person B is doing.
    Variation: Use a geoboard. Person A creates a shape and gives directions to Person B to create the same shape.

  • Place a ruler on the floor. Pretend this line is a mirror. Person A places a geoshape so that one edge touches the mirror line. Person B places his/her matching piece to make a mirror image.

  • Use tangram pieces to make a shape. Your partner creates the same shape. Create shapes with your tangram pieces and have your partner attempt to identify the shapes used. Discuss how many pieces were used. How many triangles, squares, parallelograms? How many pieces have sides of the same length? Discuss how pieces can be manipulated (slides, turns, flips) to fill in the outline of the shape objects.

  • Fold paper to make shapes. Fold a square to make a rectangle; fold a rectangle to make a triangle; fold a rectangle to make a trapezoid; fold a trapezoid to make a diamond.

  • Create shapes with four, five, six or eight toothpicks. Draw pictures of these shapes and name them.

  • Use catalogues or magazines to find examples of various shapes. Bring empty containers from home and classify into groups.

  • What shapes are the mirrors in your house? Draw the shapes and identify them.
    Variation: Identify all the different shapes in a car.

  • Play a variation of "Simon Says" using position words (e. g., „Simon says stand between two desks or, if outside, between two trees, etc.)

  • Following is a collection of books that could be used to bridge geometry and shapes with Language Arts:
Berenstain, Stan- Old Hat, New Hat
Budney, Blossom- A Kiss is Round
Crews, Donald- Ten Black Dots
Friskey, Margaret- Three Sides and a Round One
Gillham, Bill- Let's Look for Shapes
Hill, Eric- Spot Looks at Shapes
Hoban, Tana- Circles, Triangles and Square
 - Dots, Spots, Speckles and Stripes
 - Round and Round and Round
 - Shapes and Things
 - Shapes, Shapes, Shapes
Lionni, Leo- Pezzettino
Morgan, Sally- Squares and Cubes
Pienkowski, Jan- Shapes
Pluckrose, Hentry- Shape
 - Pattern
Silverstein, Shel- The Missing Piece.

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