Recently for an assignment I had to find an activity that could be used while teaching about shapes and their attributes. I found these ideas and thought they were cute and fun, I fell into a trap that a lot of teachers do.
After watching this Doug Clements video, I realized how big of a trap it really was. I understand the desire to present your students with cute and fun activities but they need to be accurate and beneficial for the students. In the first section of the picture above, if you are going to compare a shape with a real life object, the object MUST be a true representation of that shape. Comparing a triangle to a piece of pizza or pie would not be accurate as one side is curved, I’ve never seen a triangle with a curved side before. Just like it wouldn’t be wise to compare a circle to a ring or sucker; I’ve also never seen a circle that has a growth on it before. I think a good way to incorporate a sheet that has poor examples like the ones I’ve just mentioned would be to hand it out to your class and tell them that the objects that are on the sheet cannot be classified as shapes. Have the students use their knowledge of shape attributes and use critical thinking to determine why the objects aren’t shapes. At first this could be very challenging for students especially in lower grades, going through a couple as a whole class would be helpful for the students as well as doing this activity in groups. Group work in this would encourage them to communicate using math vocabulary, they can talk about the attributes a shape has versus the attributes of the object. If you search online for activities there a lot that would not be accurate or suitable to use as good examples to help reinforce an idea or objective, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be useful for teaching. You just have to be clear with your students that they are non-examples and have them use higher levels of thinking when they work through the non-example activity.