EL Support Lesson

Sides, Corners, and More, Oh My!

Geometry is a core of mathematics in the early years. Help students recognize and draw shapes given specific attributes such as the number of corners and sides. This lesson can be a stand-alone activity of paired with 2-D Shapes!
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the 2-D Shapes lesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the 2-D Shapes lesson plan.

Students will be able to name shapes according to the number of corners and sides.


Students will be able to explain the attributes of a variety of shapes using content-specific vocabulary and peer supports.

(4 minutes)
  • Gather the students together and project the Shapes of Many Kinds worksheets on the whiteboard.
  • Ask students to think about what they notice about each shape. Encourage students to think about the similarities and differences of each shape. Have students think-pair-share their ideas and provide sentence stems and frames to support their ideas, such as:
    • I notice ____.
    • ____ and ____ are similar because ____.
    • ____ and ____ are different because ____.
  • Allow a few students to share their ideas. Encourage them to come up to the whiteboard to act as the teacher. Ask students prompting questions to elicit more meaningful feedback.
  • Explain to the students that today they will be learning about attributes, or characteristics, of different shapes! Read the language objective in student-friendly language and define any words within the objective that students may not be familiar with. Ask students to rephrase word meanings back to you to check for understanding.
(8 minutes)
  • Put students in small groups and pass out a set of the Vocabulary Cards and a whiteboard and marker to each group.
  • Read through the student-friendly definitions, referring to the visuals on the vocabulary cards to support student understanding.
  • Project the corner and side vocabulary cards on the whiteboard. Say, "Based on what you know about corners and sides, I want each small group to think about how many corners and sides each shape on your vocabulary cards has. Choose one of your group members to be the recorder. The recorder will draw a picture of each shape on the whiteboard and write down how many sides and corners the shape has." If necessary, provide students with an example prior to having them work in their small groups.
  • Provide students with a sentence frame to support their discussion. For example:
    • I know that the ____ (insert shape) has ____ sides and ____ corners because ____.
  • Rotate around the room as students are working together and listen to their discussions. Jot down important language you hear and collaborative skills you see.
  • Call on each group and have them share one or two shapes and the number of sides and corners they agreed upon. Encourage students to agree or disagree with other groups' answers. Provide sentence stems to support their critiques, such as:
    • I agree with ____ because ____.
    • I disagree with ____ because ____. I think we should change the answer to ____ instead.
(8 minutes)
  • Explain to the students that now they will work in partnerships to figure out different shapes based on what they look like. Tell the students that shapes can be classified by their attributes or characteristics. Elaborate that knowing the number of sides and corners a shape has can help them figure out what shape someone is talking about if they aren't looking at a picture of that shape.
  • Review the shape attributes on the cards that are not included on the Vocabulary Cards worksheet (e.g. parallel and equal). Provide real-world explanations and student-friendly definitions. Refer to visuals and objects around the classroom when necessary.
  • Explain to the students that they will be put into A-B partnerships for the Information Gap: Name That Shape! activity. Put students into partnerships and project the first page from the Information Gap: Name that Shape! worksheet with the directions and visuals listed. Read the directions step by step. After each step, have students think-pair-share their understanding of what the step is asking them to do. Encourage students to refer to the visuals for support.
  • Model how to complete the Information Gap: Name That Shape! activity, and engage the class in collectively being Partner B while you demonstrate how to be Partner A.
  • Display the Example 1 card for Partner A from the Information Gap: Name That Shape! worksheet. Explain that the card has Partner A, a shape with some attributes, and a question on it.
  • Display the Example 1 card for Partner B from the worksheet. Explain that this will be the card that Partner B has, and it has the missing information that Partner A needs.
  • Instruct the class to say, "What information do you need?" in unison.
  • Say, "I have a shape here, and I know that the attributes, or characteristics, of the shape include four sides and four corners. The question is asking me to name the shape, but I don't know the last attribute. Do you know the word needed to complete the sentence so I can find the missing attribute?"
  • Instruct the class to say, "Why do you need that information?"
  • Say, "I need that information because I want to figure out the missing sentence. This will tell me the last attribute of the shape. Then, I can name the shape."
  • Instruct the class to say "longer" in unison.
  • Elaborate to the students, "Now that I know the missing word, I know that one pair of sides is longer than the other. This information helps me figure out that this shape is a rectangle. If one pair of sides wasn't longer than the other, what shape might that be? Turn and talk to a partner explaining your answer."
  • Allow a few students to share their ideas. Clarify that another shape that has four sides and four corners is a square. That is why the missing information is so important!
(14 minutes)
  • Put students into A-B partnerships and give each partnership two bags of cards (one with A cards, the other with B cards).
  • Instruct students to decide who will be Partner A and who will be Partner B. Assist this process as necessary. Explain to the students that Partner A has the shape, attributes, and the question they need to solve, while Partner B has the information needed to complete Partner A's card.
  • Remind students to refer to the numbers on the left-hand corner of their cards. If Partner A has 1, Partner B should have 1 as well. The numbers must match before starting the activity.
  • Allow students to begin the activity, and remind them not to write on the cards because they will be used again. Circulate around the room to provide feedback and support. Observe language used and remind students to reference the directions projected on the whiteboard as they complete the activity.
  • Once students have finished the first set of cards, instruct them to swap roles, so that Partner B becomes Partner A and vice versa. Refer to the bags of cards and make sure students choose another set of cards that have matching numbers.
  • Continue this process until students have had a chance to finish most of their cards.


  • Provide students with a partially filled out Glossary with shape names in English and their home language (L1) and corresponding visuals.
  • Have students label corners and sides of objects throughout the room.
  • Allow students to work in partnerships with sympathetic non-EL students or students who speak the same L1 during explicit teaching.
  • Provide teacher-led instruction for students during the information gap activity.


  • Encourage students to discuss their ideas without referring to the sentence stems and frames for support.
  • Challenge students to detail the process of the information gap activity in their journals using their own words and visuals.
  • See if students are able to create their own information gap cards on shape attributes, using two blank notecards.
  • Rotate around the classroom as students are completing the Information Gap: Name That Shape! activity.
  • Take pictures of students who show appropriate speaking and listening skills. These pictures can be used at a later time when discussing appropriate body language during group activities. Jot down words, phrases, and sentences you hear. Refer back to these observations to support you as you plan other lessons on shapes and their attributes.
(3 minutes)
  • Gain students' attention and encourage a partnership to provide feedback about how the activity supported them in figuring out their shape, based on the shape's attributes, or characteristics. Provide sentence stems to support students' ideas, such as:
    • The activity helped me figure out my shape because ____.
    • My partner and I worked well together because ____.
    • I'm still not sure how to ____.

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