Identifying 2D Shapes in 3D Figures: Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:06 2D Shapes vs. 3D Shapes
  • 0:59 Examples of 2D Shapes
  • 1:32 Finding 2D Shapes in…
  • 2:30 Multiple 2D Shapes in…
  • 2:50 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Emily Hume

Emily is a Reading Specialist and Literacy coach in a public elementary school with a Master's Degree in Elementary Education.

Expert Contributor
Dawn Mills

Dawn has taught chemistry and forensic courses at the college level for 9 years. She has a PhD in Chemistry and is an author of peer reviewed publications in chemistry.

There are shapes all around you! In this lesson, you will learn the difference between a two dimensional and a three dimensional shape. You will also learn how to identify 2D shapes in 3D figures!

2D Shapes vs. 3D Shapes

Grab a piece of paper real quick and draw a circle on it. I'll do the same here on the screen. Got your circle? Good. Now look around the room and see if you can find a ball of some sort; a basketball, baseball, even a bouncy ball will do. Now which one would you rather play with? The circle or the ball? The ball, right? You can pick it up, bounce it, throw it, or roll it. What can you do with the circle? Nothing much. You can look at it and that's about it!

You've just learned the difference between a 2D shape and a 3D shape. The circle is a two-dimensional (2D) shape. It only has two measurements, such as length and height, and is usually called a 'flat' shape. The ball, however, is a three-dimensional (3D) shape because it has three measurements (length, height, and width) and is sometimes called a 'solid' shape.

Examples of 2D Shapes

Let's see if we can find some examples of 2D shapes. Take another look around the room you're in. Can you find some of these shapes?

2D Shapes
Two Dimensional Shapes with Labels

If you're looking for a triangle, you could go make a sandwich and cut it from corner to corner. Then you'll have two triangles! Want to find a square? Check out your picture frames or windows. To find a rectangle, go check out your television, kitchen table, desk, or even a book! If you're looking for a circle, look no further than your glass of water. The bottom and the top are probably a circle shape!

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Additional Activities

2D and 3D Figures

Three dimensional and two-dimensional shapes are present in our everyday lives. The following activities and exercises below will provide practice in creating and identifying two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional shapes.


Popsicle sticks

Canned good

Sports ball

Box of food(doesn't have to have food in it- can be any shape)



1. Use three popsicle sticks to create a 2D triangle.

2. Use four popsicle sticks to create a 2D square.

3. Glue these popsicle sticks together and create a total of 6 squares.

4. Assemble the squares to form a 3D cube and glue the joints as necessary.

5. Use five popsicle sticks to create a 2D pentagon.

6. Use six popsicle sticks to create a 2D hexagon.

7. Can you list some additional 3D objects that represent these shapes? For example, a stop sign has a hexagon shape.

Additional Questions

1. Examine the can of food. What sort of three-dimensional shape is the can? What two-dimensional shapes make up the can?

2. Examine the sports ball. What sort of three-dimensional shape is the ball? What 2D object can represent the ball?

3. Examine the food box or packaging. What sort of three-dimensional shape is the package? What 2D object(s) can represent the packaging?


1. cylindrical, circles are on the ends

2. sphere, circle

3. Answers will vary depending on the shape of the box and could include rectangles and/or squares.

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