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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Think Outside the Box! – Hands-On Geometry

We have been having a blast learning about geometry in my class! We started by learning about patterns, and we made Winter Carnival decorations at the same time…


These were inspired by Camille from An Open Door, and she offered a great link to download printable pattern block shapes, too!


It was a great “blizzard” for the hallway (and incredibly simple for me to prepare!)

Our math vocabulary board is overflowing! 3rd grade geometry adds a LOT more concepts. We go from faces, edges, vertices, and basic identification to suddenly learning about lines, angles, and classifying into polygons and types of triangles. (Not to mention the next chapter, which adds congruency, symmetry, and more.)

Because my kids don’t really have shape/ solid names and faces/ edges/ vertices quite down yet, we spent Valentine’s morning making toothpick and marshmallow shapes, angles, and solids.


I really got to challenge their understanding- after some “easy” ones, I gave them ones they hadn’t memorized, like trapezoidal prism, to see if they really understood what a “prism” was. For the tough ones, they worked with their neighbors to figure out what the solid was AND how to make it.


To learn the new vocabulary, we’re doing TONS of partner talk, writing to explain, and hands-on learning. We’re also doing small amounts of Whole Brain Teaching-inspired definitions with motions, and trying to make it concrete as much as possible.

One very fidgety day, I split students into groups of 4 or 5 and had them use their bodies as teams to make shapes.


Some students laid down and used their whole bodies, others sat down and used their legs, and some stood and used their arms. Nearly every group found a different way to make the shapes, but having a group of 4 make, say, a pentagon really required some creativity. They also did a lot of explaining to one another and needing to work as a team, and of course it made a great excuse to get up and move around!

Most of my ideas aren’t new, but my students have been loving this unit! How do you “think outside the box” to help your students learn geometry in a more concrete way?

P.S.—Thanks to everyone who picked up my free fonts and especially those of you who left feedback and followed my new TpT store! :) You made my day.


  1. ...and you made my day! Thank you for the shout out! Isn't it an amazing feeling when someone else uses your idea? THANK YOU!
    An Open Door

  2. I love your blog! I'm a third grade teacher as well. I love finding other third grade blogs.

    Check mine out at

  3. Hi I love your marshmallow shapes!! What a fun way to teach geometry, your kids must have loved it! I'm your newest follower!
    Science for Kids Blog


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