Lesson plan

Shape Models

With this activity, students will identify shapes, build 3-D shapes, and practice describing shapes with a partner.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the 3-D Scavenger Hunt pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
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Need extra help for EL students? Try the 3-D Scavenger Hunt pre-lesson.

Students will be able to identify the attributes of 3-D shapes.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(10 minutes)
  • Display examples of 2-D and 3-D shapes using blocks and flat shapes.
  • Hold up a 2-D shape, like a square, and ask students to identify the shape and share what attributes it has. Answers should include four sides, four corners, and a flat shape.
  • Ask students to look around the classroom and find something in the shape of a square.
  • Explain that this is a 2-D shape. Say, “Now I will show you some 3-D shapes.”
  • Show an example of 3-D shapes like a cube, pyramid, triangular prism, and rectangular prism one at a time. Before showing a shape, pair up your students and have one partner cover their eyes. Have the other partner describe the shape to them. See if they can guess the shape based on the description.
  • Explain that today they will be learning more about and building their own 3-D shapes.
(5 minutes)
  • Hold up each of the 3-D shape blocks and review the attributes of each shape including the number of faces (or flat surfaces) and vertices (or points) of each shape. Record this information on the whiteboard or chart paper next to each shape name.
  • Tell the class that they will get to practice building models of 3-D shapes that will include all of these attributes.
  • Demonstrate how to use the art materials to create a 3-D shape (such as a cube).
  • Model thinking aloud as you make sure to include all of the shape attributes. Show the class how to draw an image of your 3-D shape, labeling each of the attributes.
(15 minutes)
  • Pass out a wooden block or example 3-D shapes to each table or group of students for visual examples.
  • Provide each group of students with clay, toothpicks, and a blank piece of paper to record their work.
  • Encourage students to create as many different 3-D shapes as they can.
  • Circulate around the room asking guiding questions to encourage student thinking and discovery, such as, "What kind of shape is this? How do you know? How many faces does it have?"
(5 minutes)
  • Pause students and ask them to record each 3-D shape they built on their paper. Ask students to label each 3-D shape drawing with the shape attributes.


  • Provide struggling students with labeled 3-D shapes to support them during the building process.


  • Encourage students to build additional 3-D shapes and describe each shape by the attributes.
  • Ask students to design an imaginative 3-D shape and build it.
(5 minutes)
  • While circulating around the room, informally assess student understanding through questioning them about their shape models.
  • Collect work samples and recording papers to check that students were able to accurately depict each shape and attributes.
(5 minutes)
  • Invite a few students to the front of the room to display and share their shape creation. Have them identify the shape by name and describe the associated attributes.
  • Review 3-D shapes and answer students' questions as needed.

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