Lesson Plan:

Magical Movement

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July 28, 2015
by Anna Parrish

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to construct triangles and squares using toothpicks and balls of clay. Students will be able to combine triangles and squares to form new shapes. Students will be able to recognize how smaller shapes can be used to form larger shapes.


Introduction (5 minutes)

  • Ask your students to name shapes that they know.
  • As your students name the shapes, draw a picture of the shapes on the board.
  • Next, tell your students that they will be working on creating and combining shapes.
  • Tell your students that combining shapes means that they will be putting shapes together to form new shapes.

Explicit Instruction/Teacher Modeling (5 minutes)

  • If you are using a SMART Board, ask how you can make a triangle with the lines, and model the process of constructing a triangle with the line segments on the first slide.
  • Continue to model the process of constructing a square with the line segments on the second slide.
  • If you are not using a SMART Board, use wooden sticks or rulers to model the process of constructing a triangle and a square. For example, for the triangle, take three separate wooden sticks and combine them to form the shape of the triangle.
  • Talk aloud as you move the pieces around on the floor to make the shapes so that your students can follow your thought process.

Guided Practice/Interactive Modeling (10 minutes)

  • Explain to your students that they need to listen for directions before they create their own shapes.
  • Distribute bags with toothpicks and a ball of clay or play dough.
  • Model the process of pulling off a part of the larger ball of clay to make a small connector and using the small ball to connect the toothpicks.
  • Guide your students in creating at least four triangles and four squares with the toothpicks.
  • Use several student-created shapes to model the process of combining the shapes, and invite the students to demonstrate that process along with you.

Independent Working Time (10 minutes)

  • Give your students the challenge of combining the shapes they have made to create a new shape.
  • Demonstrate the process of combining two toothpick shapes (and reconnecting pieces) before students begin, as needed.
  • Challenge your students to create the following: a rectangle using two squares, a larger square using four small squares, and a shape made with triangles.
  • Next, challenge your students to use both squares and triangles to create one larger shape.



  • Enrichment: Have students cut apart tangrams and move the tangrams to form a variety of designs. Students who are very advanced can use the pattern that has no lines or clues.
  • Support: Draw examples of combined shapes on an individual whiteboard, and have the students move their own pieces to recreate that shape.

Technology Integration

  • Use an interactive whiteboard to have students create shapes and then combine the shapes to make larger shapes. This activity could be done with a small group of students or with the whole class.

Related Books and/or Media


Assessment (10 minutes)

  • Distribute the assessment shapes sheet, scissors, and glue.
  • Direct your students to cut out the shapes.
  • Tell your students to create at least three larger shapes with the smaller shapes.
  • Encourage your students to construct larger triangles, rectangles, or squares with the smaller shapes.
  • Tell your students to glue the shapes on the paper once they have completed creating their larger shapes.

Review and Closing (5 minutes)

  • Remind your students that we can move shapes together to form new shapes.
  • Ask a volunteer to draw a big shape on the board that is made of smaller shapes.

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