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Geometric Solids

Teacher Guide by Anna Warfield

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our Elementary School Category!
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Student Activities for Geometric Solids Include:

Mathematics is not all about numbers on a page. Architects, engineers, artists, product designers, and others use planar and spatial geometry constantly. Most children use planar and spatial geometry every day! Some things we just don’t think about in terms of mathematics, but intuitively interact with and understand them. Learning about solid shapes is a first step into understanding three dimensions and spatial reasoning, as well as more complex topics such as mass, weight, volume, density, positions in space, translation, rotation, revolution, forces in physics, and so many others.

This resource is intended as a review for students in second and third grade, but some parts are probably more for the teacher! While the standards are for K-2, additional information has been included for teacher understanding or for extension learning. Simplify wording in storyboards to suit the needs of your students.

By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!




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Geometric Solids Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Geometric Solids - Two Dimensions Vs. Three Dimensions

In kindergarten, students learn to identify if a shape or figure is 2D or 3D, “flat” or “solid.” A picture of something will always be flat, but the actual object would be something a child could hold. Solid figures have mass and take up space, while flat figures do not. Show examples of solid figures and paper cut-outs of two-dimensional shapes and have students classify them. Then show solid figures and pictures of solid figures and lead students in a brief discussion on the difference. Introduce shape, plane, solid, and space. Depending on the level of your students, particularly if this is a review for older students, you may also want to add point, line, dimension, and perspective.

Many students will already understand the difference between 2D and 3D, but they will have a hard time grasping the “D” part and what it means. A dimension could be thought of as an extension of direction. Lacking any dimensions, a point shows position only. There are zero dimensions to the point: zero directions. We use points to show location within other dimensions. A line has one dimension. A line goes on forever in two directions, but that really means a positive and a negative direction of the same dimension. A ruler allows a pencil to move in one dimension. A train can move forward and backward along the train tracks. A painter moves up and down on a ladder. Keep in mind that a line does not actually have any thickness, so take these examples with a grain of salt.

A plane is a flat surface that does not have any thickness. It has two dimensions: length and width. Any flat surface, such as a piece of paper, tabletop, chalkboard, or screens for electronics can be considered part of a plane. Characters in side-scrolling video games move in two dimensions. Moving a pencil diagonally on a piece of paper is a combination of moving it left/right and up/down. Any drawing on a piece of paper that we make is actually only two-dimensional, despite the use of perspective. Perspective is a way to show 3D objects on a 2D surface and gives the illusion of depth.

The third dimension adds actual depth. Space is where objects physically exist. In three dimensions, everything has mass. What is different about 3D movies? A movie is a projection onto a flat screen, a plane. Sometimes people or objects seem to come toward the viewer, instead of staying flat on the screen. This is supposed to give the illusion of three dimensions; the people and objects do not actually come toward you. The physical world exists in space, but images on a screen are only two-dimensional.

Think of the claw machine you might find in an arcade. A joystick allows movement of the claw while it is still at the top. Left/right is one dimension. Left/right and forward/back are two dimensions. While the claw is still at the top of the machine, you can think of it as moving along a plane. Once you press the button or time is up, the claw descends. Left/right, forward/back and up/down are three dimensions.

Geometric Solids - Dimensions

Example

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Geometric Solids - ID Common Geometric Solids

Geometric solids can have all flat surfaces, curved surfaces, or both flat and curved surfaces. A geometric solid with all flat surfaces is called a polyhedron. Just as there are polygons and non-polygons, there are also polyhedrons and non-polyhedrons. Any geometric solid with at least one curved surface is not a polyhedron. See the storyboard titled Polyhedra as an example of a Frayer Model of information on polyhedrons.

There are many instances of polyhedrons and non-polyhedrons in our everyday life. Assign different students or groups sphere, cone, cylinder, cube, and rectangular prism. Use a spider map or grid to generate examples of geometric solids in the world around us. This activity is helpful for students to see math in the world around them and to identify, but not create, geometric solids. Share at least one completed assignment of every different solid for all students to view. Alternatively, have all students find fewer examples for all solids.

Spheres Spider Map

Example

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Geometric Solids Vocabulary

When learning something new, it is important to have the words to describe it. Moving from shapes to solids, it is important to know the terms to describe them.

Geometry Terms for Geometric Solids


  • shape
  • solid
  • two-dimensional
  • three-dimensional
  • base
  • edge
  • side
  • leg
  • face
  • vertex
  • apex
  • surface
  • curve
  • polygon
  • polyhedron
  • sphere
  • hemisphere
  • cylinder
  • cone
  • prism
  • cube

Use words that are most pertinent to your students. Students can use storyboards to bolster or demonstrate their word knowledge. They might use a grid, T-Chart, Spider Map, Frayer Model, or a traditional storyboard layout.

Geometric Solids - Shape Vocabulary

Example

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Geometric Solids - Specific Polyhedrons

There are different attributes to each of the specific polyhedrons. Make a chart on Storyboard That and count the faces, edges, and vertices of blocks or paper models.

Geometric Solids - Face, Edge, and Vertex Worksheet

Example

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Geometric Solids - Composite Shapes

The example below shows Derek journeying all over the place. On his travels, he finds many different objects that look suspiciously like cones, cubes, prisms, spheres, cylinders, and pyramids. Have students identify the object and geometric solid it resembles. Notice that some of the pictures show skeletal “solids” or are not true mathematical figures because of rounded edges or vertices. Examples are not perfect, but students can get an idea and recognize shapes and solids around them. Every picture has at least one solid that is easily recognized. There are also figures that are stacked, combined, or repeated. Have your students look very carefully!

Students can create their own storyboards of Derek or themselves visiting all manner of places and seeing lots of different geometric solids. Assign a certain number of composite shapes to each storyboard or each cell. Students may not recognize the pentagonal prism of the house, but do recognize a triangular prism on top of a rectangular prism. If there is an object that they want to include in their storyboard but cannot find, perhaps they can make it with different shapes and figures.

Geometric Solids - Travel with Shapes!

Example

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