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Fun Ways to Teach Shapes Your Students Will Love

Our minds go straight to high school math class when we think of geometry. But in reality, we start teaching the basics of geometry early on in elementary grades. Identifying and naming shapes and their attributes, and composing shapes is all part of it. I love to see all of my students' imaginations come to life in geometry lessons. So I'm going to share some fun ways to teach shapes your students will love!

Teaching shapes, attributes, and composite shapes as part of your geometry unit is fun and easy with these shape activities.

Geometry: Shape Attributes & Composite Shapes

Our students must be equipped with critical thinking and problem-solving skills to navigate their futures in today's world. It is up to teachers to find ways to master and practice these skills. Geometry is a great place to start.


These shapes, attributes, and composite shapes activities align with common core math standards.The first grade Common Core Math Standard I.G.1 calls for students to distinguish between defining attributes (such as closed and three-sided triangles) versus non-defining attributes like color, orientation, and overall size. They must also build and draw shapes to possess defining attributes.

The Common Core Math Standards I.G.2 calls for students to compose two-dimensional shapes or three-dimensional shapes to create a composite shape and compose new shapes from the composite shape. 

Fun Ways to Teach Shapes & the Standards

The best approach to teaching these standards is through hands-on learning. Geometry is so visual and spatial that students need to actually build and create the shapes with their own hands.

Define Attributes

By first grade, students already have a basic understanding of different shapes, but I always like to review them before we begin. 

Use worksheets like this draw a shape worksheet to get your students thinking about how shapes can be described by their attributes.
After our review, we are ready for a "shape scavenger hunt" around the classroom or even the school. This is always a fun introductory activity. 

The kids have a blast looking for different shapes in the "wild." This activity sets us up nicely for a math talk. 

As a whole, we discuss our findings and the things that make a triangle a triangle. Such as its three sides that are closed and not the fact that it is blue or purple, or even upside down.  This really helps students to identify and define shape attributes.

Distinguish Shapes

At this point in the lesson, I like to break into small groups. 
More attribute practice is fun with activities that allow your students to move around the room. Use an attribute worksheet to record findings and identify the attributes of each shape.

I assign each group a different shape. Then, they explore the classroom to find an object that represents their shape.  I always love seeing how creative students are as they search for a simple shape amongst so many complex items in the classroom.  They always tend to find a great example of their shape, even if it is just a portion of their item.

Then, they will discuss amongst themselves what attributes make up that shape.  This is a great way for them to really hone in on those important attributes. Finally, each group will present to the class. Each group explains the shape they have, and the shape they found. 

This is a great activity to promote critical thinking skills, discussion skills, and even address speaking and listening standards.  

Now you can try these fun, hands-on shape attribute activities with your students.  Grab this FREE 30 page resource that is filled with practice activities to help your students work on shape attributes.

Free activities for practicing shape attributes.

Compose Shapes

Once we have spent some time on shape attributes, then we move on to creating shapes.  There's no better way to do this than with pattern blocks or tangram shapes. 

Use blocks and tangram pieces for your students to start practicing ways to compose new shapes out of existing shapes.
I love to give my students blocks with little to no direction and let them explore. I'm always amazed by what they come up with. 

After the self-exploration time, I give them specific things to do with the blocks, like creating animals or compound shapes. 

Using their prior knowledge of shapes and their critical thinking skills, they are able to create many things. The kids always enjoy this activity, and it is super effective for teaching the standard. It truly is one of the best ways for students to visualize how shapes can work together to form other shapes.

It's a great extension activity that pushes them a little bit further in their thinking and understanding of shapes.  Plus, it's a great way to practice their spatial awareness and problem-solving skills as they manipulate the shapes to create images like fish, flowers, and so much more. 

Tangrams are a great way to get your students practicing how to manipulate shapes to create new objects.

More Practice With Shapes

The Mega Math Practice Shapes Attributes and Composite Shapes practice has everything you need to continue practicing these skills.  Through these practice pages, students will work on defining shapes and their attributes, as well as composing them and creating new ones.

The versatility of the resource allows you to complete it digitally or on paper in many different settings. 
The activities in this Composite Shapes Set are great for teaching your students to identify shapes.

I love using this resource for our math practice and centers. This resource is perfect for preparing your students for what is to come. Problem-solving and critical thinking skills are what our students need to navigate the future. I hope you try out these fun ways to teach shapes your students will love in your classroom. I have found it to be the BEST way possible.

And...if you want to have everything you need at your fingertips, the Mega Math Practice Bundle includes every Common Core Math Standard in all four strands:
  • Numbers and Base Ten
  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking
  • Geometry
  • Measurement and Data

It is jam-packed with over 430 pages of digital and print practice activities for your students. There's more than enough for students to have guided practice and independent practice for ALL YEAR LONG! 

This Mega Math Practice Bundle includes over 430 pages of mega math practice your students will love.

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Teaching shapes, attributes, and composite shapes as part of your geometry unit is fun and easy with these shape activities.

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