Identifying Geometric Shapes in the Real World

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

You learn about shapes in school when you are learning about geometry. However, you might not realize that there are examples of shapes all over the world. Come and learn about some examples that you can see in the world around you.

Shapes All Around Us

A credit card. An ice cube. A refrigerator. These are all just simple, everyday items. However, is this all they are? Let's think of what these are in mathematical terms. A credit card is a rectangle. An ice cube is, well, a cube. A refrigerator is a rectangular prism. Shapes can be found all over the world, even in places where you least expect them. All you need to do is open your eyes!

2D Shapes

Two dimensional, or 2D, shapes are flat shapes. There are 2D shapes all over the place! Here are a few examples:

  • A square can be defined as a shape with four straight sides of equal length and four right angles. Some real-world examples of squares include windows (unless they are rectangles), coasters, spaces on a chess board and keys on a keyboard.
  • Rectangles have four straight sides that are not of equal length and four right angles. Some real-world examples of rectangles are license plates, cards (like in a deck of cards), dollar bills and a page in a book.
  • Circles are round 2D shapes with no corners. Pizza pies, clocks and bike tires are all real-world examples of circles.

Stop signs are real world examples of octagons, which have eight straight sides and eight angles
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There are many other examples of 2D shapes in the real world. Let's see if you can figure these out. What is a sail on a sailboat? A triangle. What is a flattened penny? An oval. Keep an eye out for 2D shapes in the real-world - they are everywhere!

3D Shapes

Three dimensional, or 3D, shapes are shapes that have length, width and depth. In other words, they are not flat! Since most real-world objects are not flat, 3D shapes are even easier to spot. Here are some examples:

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