Lesson plan

Know Your Shapes!

In this lesson, your students will become familiar with shapes by identifying them in real life. Your students will love identifying how many sides shapes have by drawing and counting them!
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Triangle Time pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
Grade Subject View aligned standards
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Triangle Time pre-lesson.

In this lesson, young learners will be introduced to defining and non-defining attributes (e.g., a circle is round and a closed shape) of common shapes such as circles, triangles, and rectangles. Ideal for first graders, children will learn the differences between two-dimensional shapes and identify them and their attributes. Kids will be tasked with a shape hunt to find circular, triangular, and rectangular shapes in either their home or classroom. They will then draw them. This lesson provides young mathematicians with a great introduction to geometry!

Students will be able to identify defining attributes of basic shapes. Students will be able to identify the number of sides that a triangle, rectangle, square, and circle have.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(10 minutes)
  • Ask your students if they know what defining attribute means.
  • Explain that it means a characteristic that specifically describes something. For example, a ball is round, so round is its defining attribute.
  • Ask your students to define non-defining attribute now that they know what a defining attribute is.
  • Explain that it is a characteristic that could be there one day but could be changed the next day. For example, the orange ball could be painted red, and then it would be a red ball.
(20 minutes)
  • Tell your students that a defining attribute is always present.
  • Ask students a defining attribute about them, such as being able to breathe.
  • Ask students a non-defining attribute about them, such as size, since size changes.
  • Draw 2 columns on the board.
  • Write triangle, square, circle, and rectangle in the first column. Note that the defining attribute for these is the number of sides and being closed.
  • Explain that closed shapes don't have any openings. Draw an example.
  • Invite students to the board to write defining attributes of each shape.
  • Ask students to identify some non-defining attributes of these shapes. Examples might include color and size.
(30 minutes)
  • Instruct students to complete the Everyday Circle worksheet.
  • Explain that circles have no sides and are closed.
(30 minutes)
  • Direct your students to complete the Everyday Rectangles worksheet.
  • Explain how items that are rectangles have 4 sides and are closed.
  • Give your students the Everyday Triangles worksheet to complete.
  • Explain how triangles have 3 sides and are closed.


  • Pass out construction paper. Instruct your students to cut out shapes and create three items made of shapes. For example, your students could make a house. Ask your students to paste their items on a sheet of paper.


  • Cut out triangles, squares, circles, and rectangles for your students. Have students count and write the number of sides on the front of the picture and whether they are open or closed on the back.
(10 minutes)
  • Have your students label a piece of paper from one to four.
  • Direct them to answer questions about the shapes. For example, "How many sides does a triangle have? How many sides does a rectangle have?"
(5 minutes)

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