Activities for Teaching 2D and 3D Shapes


1. A Shape Scavenger Hunt

This activity is always a hit with students! I like to start with a read aloud. City Shapes by Diana Murray, is a great option. It tells the story of a young girl looking for shapes around her city. Students will love looking for shapes in the illustrations.

After the read aloud, take the students on Shape Scavenger Hunt Walk around your school. I always make sure to make clear expectations for this activity so that, we do not disturb other classes. To keep noise under control, I have my students silently raise up one finger each time they spot a shape. I point out a few shapes as we go along. When we get back to the classroom I ask the students to share examples of shapes they saw.

2. Practice Identifying Attributes of 2D and 3D Shapes With Bingo

This game is a twist on the traditional bingo game. It can be played with two levels of difficulty. Level 1 is for students who are working on learning the names of 2D and 3D shapes. In this level, the teacher reads out the name of a shape and the students cover that shape on their board.

Level 2 is for students working on learning the defining attributes of shapes. In this level, the teacher reads a calling card with clues such as: "This is a 2D shapes. It has 4 sides: 2 sides that are the same length, 1 short side and 1 long side. It has 4 corners" (trapezoid). The students use the clue to determine which shape they should cover on their board. You can get a copy for your students in our TPT Store.

3. Explore Composing Shapes With Manipulatives

Hands-on exploration is so important for kids trying to develop a firm understanding of how shapes relate to each other. Students can explore composing shapes with manipulatives as a center, early finisher, or rainy day recess activity. You can leave this exploration open ended or, give your students a challenge such as build a cube, build a pyramid.

The student below is exploring with Picasso Tiles. I like Picasso Tiles because they can be used to create both 2D and 3D shapes. They also work great with light tables. You can grab your own set of Picasso Tiles on Amazon here.

Another manipulative option is traditional pattern blocks. While they cannot be used to build 3D shapes, there are a variety of ways students can use them to compose with 2D shapes. There are a variety of pattern block mats available online that you can print for your students to use during their exploration.

The set pictured below is from Excellerations. It comes in a compact wood box that holds the pattern blocks along with 8 pattern cards that students can use to compose shapes. It is big enough for 3-4 students to use it at a time. You can get it on Amazon: here.

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