Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Superb Shapes and Fantastic Figures

Lizetta Payne


This activity is a unique way for students to compare and contrast similar two- and three- dimensional shapes within cooperative groups.


The student compares and contrasts two- and three-dimensional real-life objects (for example, circle and sphere, square and cube, triangle and pyramid, rectangle and rectangular solid).


-One each of these wooden or geometric figures: square, rectangle, triangle, circle, cube, rectangular prism, spheres, pyramids, and cylinders. (These figures may be obtained through various math supply catalogs.)
-Student Chart #1 for each student (See Associated File.)
-Teacher Chart (See Associated File.)
-A pair of geometric figures for every three students. (You may use real-life objects to represent these figures.)
Examples: circle and sphere, rectangle and rectangular prism, triangle and pyramid, circle and cylinder.
-Bags (paper or small plastic), one for each group of students
-A stop watch
-Overhead projector
-Transparency sheets for making copies on a Xerox machine


1. Make a transparency of teacher chart for use during instruction.

2. Copy the Student Chart #1 for each student. (It would be a good idea to double-side the copies in the case that some groups finish before others.)

3. Collect geometric figures for demonstration.

4. Assemble geometric figures for each group. Make sure that you include one two-dimensional and one three-dimensional object in each bag.

5. Prepare at least three or four extra bags of figures for those groups who finish quickly.

6. Put the pair of figures for each group in a bag.

7. Set up the overhead projector.


1. Show examples of two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes.

2. Ask students to name the shape or solid figure.

3. Give the figure to the student who correctly identifies each figure.

4. Explain that these students should stand up, hold the objects above their heads, and sit down every time their object is mentioned for the next five minutes.

5. Set the stop watch for five minutes.

6. State that objects we use everyday may be a shape or solid figure.

7. Ask the students to name real–life objects in the classroom that are shaped like the figures.
-What is shaped like a circle?
-What items are shaped like a square?
-Where do you see triangles?
-Do you see any rectangles?
-Is anything shaped like a sphere?
-Can anyone think of anything that is shaped like a cube?
-Where do we usually see pyramids?
-Do we have any rectangular prisms in the room?
-What things in the room are shaped like a cylinder?

8. As the students review the previous questions, show the transparency for the Teacher Chart. (See Associated File.)

9. When the timer rings, thank the volunteers for participating with the lesson.

10. Collect the geometric figures.

11. State that these geometric figures are defined by the number of faces, corners, curves, edges, shape of its faces, and ability to roll. Point to those attributes on the transparency.

12. Tell the students that the class is going to study each object and identify the number of faces, corners, curves, edges, shape of its faces, and ability to roll.

13. Define the attributes:
Faces– Flat surfaces on the figure.
Corners– The place where two edges meet.
Curves– Any curved line in the figure.
Edges– The place where two faces meet.
Shapes of the faces– Explain that if the three dimensional objects were traced on a sheet of paper that they would show the specific shapes that are needed to build the object.
A cylinder is made of two circles and a curved rectangle.
A triangular prism is made of three triangles and a square.
A rectangular prism is made of four rectangles and two squares.
A sphere is made up of many circles.
The two-dimensional shapes only have one face. The name of the object is the name of its face.

14. Ask a volunteer to stand in front of the class and hold up each geometric figure. Ask the class these questions about each object: How many faces? How many corners? How many curves? How many edges? What are the shape(s) of its faces? Can it roll?

15. Record responses on the transparency of the teacher chart as students answer the questions.

16. After the chart is completed, discuss similarities and differences of the figures.

17. Turn off the overhead projector.

18. Tell students that they are going to work in a group of three and will examine two figures and label their attributes using the student chart.

19. Pass out the student charts to each student.

20. Explain that they will write the names of the two figures at the top of the chart. Next, they will count the number of faces, corners, curves and edges of each figure and record it in the first two columns of the chart. Then, they will name the shape of the faces and record the names on the chart in the correct boxes. After that, they will tell whether the object rolls by writing yes or no. Last, they will indicate whether the attributes were alike or different by writing a D or an A in the last column.

21. Tell the students that you will first look to see that they completed the chart. Then, you will look to see if they were able to decide if the objects were alike or different for each attribute.

22. Specify the rules for working in groups:
-Stay on task.
-Raise your hand if you have a question.
-Ask for more figures if you finish early.
-Finish the chart in ten minutes.
-Choose one person to share the findings with the class.

23. Divide the students into groups of three.

24. Hand out a bag of figures to each group.

25. Circulate while students are working in groups. Give feedback to groups accurately completing the chart. Assist as needed for those who are having difficulty.

26. When five minutes have passed, ask the students if any groups have completed their first chart. If so, give them another bag of figures.

27. After ten minutes, have each group speaker share how their objects were alike and different by asking these questions:
-How were the circle and sphere alike? How were they different?
-How were the square and cube alike? How were they different?
-How were the triangle and pyramid alike? How were they different?
-How were the circle and cylinder alike? How were they different?
-How were the rectangle and rectangular prism alike? How were they different?

28. Remind students that many objects that we use everyday can be described as geometric figures.

29. Collect the completed student charts for assessment.


Use the alike or different column of each student's chart to assess his/her ability to compare and contrast two-dimensional and three-dimensional geometric figures.

Their assessment will be based on this criteria:
6 out of 6 correct= Super!
5 out of 6 correct= Very good!
4 out of 6 correct= Good!
3 or less correct= See the teacher for help.

Students who respond correctly to the alike or different column less than four times will need additional teaching on the specific attributes that were incorrect.

If the students have completed all columns on the student chart, they have shown mastery of Goal 3, Process Standard 4: Creative and Critical Thinking.


1. Have the groups exchange sets of geometric figures until every group has had the opportunity to compare all the sets. This will extend the lesson to two days.

2. Have the students participate in a math center. The students could examine a set of figures every day until they have compared and contrasted all the sets.

3. Instead of using a two-dimensional and a three-dimensional object in a set, use 2 two-dimensional or 2 three-dimensional figures. This would give the students the opportunity to note similarities and differences between figures within the same dimension. Use the Student Chart #2 in the Associated File.

4. Write about these in math journals.
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