Math Background

Polygons and Solid Figures: Tips and Tricks

  • A great way to demonstrate polygons is with pattern blocks on an overhead projector. If these are not available, you can use colored transparencies to make different polygons, or use colored chalk and draw them on the chalkboard.
  • Construct a polygon bulletin board in the classroom. After a specific polygon has been introduced, post the polygon on the board along with its description.
    Isosceles triangle
  • Geoboards are excellent tools your students can use to explore polygons. Help them to see the different ways a polygon can look depending on the length of its sides and size of its angles. Have several students construct the same kind of polygon and share their drawings with the class. They will be surprised at how different the same polygon can look.
  • Make rulers available to students as they work with polygons. This will encourage them to make precise drawings.
  • Have students make geometry flash cards. Each card should have a picture or description of a polygon or solid figure on the front of the card and the name of the figure on the back. Students can use the cards to practice at school or at home.
  • Give your students practice with geometry vocabulary by playing Geometry Concentration. Draw a polygon, solid figure, or other geometric figure on each of 18 index cards. Write the names of the figures on 18 more cards. Arrange the cards facedown in a 6-by-6 array. Players take turns matching figures with names. The player with the greatest number of matches wins the game.
  • Have students construct solid figures from nets drawn on construction paper and use the solid figures to create a “City of the Future.” Students can work in teams to plan the space requirements for their proposed cities.
  • To reinforce the concept of area, tell students the area of a polygon. Have them draw a rectangle with that area on grid paper. Then have students share their drawings. They will discover that different rectangles can have the same area. For example, a 3-by-4 rectangle and a 2-by-6 rectangle both have an area of 12 square units. You can also adapt this activity to reinforce students' understanding of perimeter.

Houghton Mifflin Math Grade 3