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3D Shapes Games & Activities

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

If your class is studying geometry, understanding 3D shapes is an important concept for your students to master. Use these activities and games to help students identify 3D shapes and their various properties.

3D Shapes

Whether it's basketballs, canned vegetables, ice cream cones, or tissue boxes, students encounter 3D shapes everyday. When students understand 3D shapes, it helps them understand the world around them. It also helps build a foundation for students to solve more advanced geometrical problems.

Let's explore some activities and games to help students learn about 3D shapes.

Photo Scavenger Hunt

Use this visual arts game to help students identify and classify 3D shapes in the world around them.

Materials

  • Real-life examples of 3D shapes (i.e. globe, athletic cone, cardboard box, etc.)
  • Digital cameras
  • Printer
  • Poster board
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Markers

Teacher Directions

  • Show the class examples of real-life 3D shapes. Have students identify the shapes and discuss their properties.
  • Divide the class into small groups, and provide each group with a digital camera.
  • Give students a specific amount of time and have the groups walk around the classroom, school, school grounds, etc. taking pictures of 3D shapes they encounter. When they return, have the students print off copies of the pictures they took.
  • Provide the groups with poster board, scissors, glue, and markers. Have the students cut out the pictures they took and glue them onto the poster. The groups should classify each object as a 3D shape, such as sphere, cone, rectangular prism, etc.
    • If you don't have access to digital cameras or a printer, simply have students keep a list of the objects they encounter and then have them draw the objects on their poster board.
  • The team with the most correctly-identified objects on their poster wins.

Discussion Questions

  • What was the most popular 3D shape that was found during the scavenger hunt?
  • What 3D shape do you think would be found most in a hospital? A zoo? A bank?

3D Shape Headband Game

Engage students in a classic guessing game to practice identifying the properties of 3D shapes.

Materials

  • Diagrams and/or physical models of 3D shapes
  • Sticky notes with the names of 3D shapes written on them

Teacher Directions

  • Show students diagrams and/or physical models of 3D shapes. Define the terms 'edges,' 'vertices,' and 'faces' for the class.
  • Have the class identify the number of edges, vertices, and faces for each 3D shape.
  • Give each student a sticky note to stick to his/her forehead without looking at it.
  • Have students walk around the class asking 'yes' or 'no' questions about the edges, vertices, and faces of their 3D shape.
  • Once students have guessed their shapes, play the game again with each student getting a new sticky note.

Discussion Questions

  • Why would it be important to know about the properties of 3D shapes?
  • What two 3D shapes do you think are the most similar? Why?

3D Town

Have students create their own 3D town while describing the properties of the shapes.

Materials

  • Nets of 3D shapes for class viewing
  • Student copies of nets of 3D shapes
  • Colored pencils/markers
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Poster board

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