Math Background

Identify Plane Shapes and Solid Shapes: When Students Ask

  • How do I know which position word to use if something can be described in more than one way?
    Children may be confused about which position word to use when they are describing an object that is between two other objects. They may not know whether to describe it as between the objects or to the left or the right of an object. Draw three circles on the board in this order: red, green, and blue. Ask children, “Is the green circle between the red circle and the blue circle, to the right of the red circle, or to the left of the blue circle?” Children should respond that all three descriptions are correct. Discuss how there is often more than one correct way to describe an object's position.
  • How can I remember the difference between a square and a rectangle? They both have the same number of sides and corners.
    Remind children that although squares and rectangles do have the same number of sides and corners, the lengths of their sides make squares and rectangles different. Explain that a square is a kind of rectangle, with all of its sides the same length. They can remember this by thinking thats for square also meanss for same-sizesides.
  • Why do I need to learn about plane and solid shapes?
    Explain to children that in order to communicate about the things they use or see every day, they need to be able to know and use the names of shapes correctly. Help them see that knowing how to identify shapes can make describing things easier.

    Show half the class the picture of the front of a gingerbread house like the one shown below.

    Gingerbread house

    Ask children to describe the picture so that the other half of the class can draw it. Tell them they cannot use any shape names or the name of the object in their description. Then discuss how much easier it would be to describe the gingerbread house if you could use the names of the shapes found in it.


Houghton Mifflin Math Grade 1