One of my favorite areas to teach in math is space. I find it’s so much fun looking at different aspects of space, including: shapes, location and transformation of shapes. So over the next 7 days I’ll be sharing some of the activities I like to use when teaching about space.
I thought I’d start with looking at polygons.
What is a polygon?
Okay quick review here. A polygon is any 2D shape that has 3 or more enclosed straight sides and angles. Then we have regular polygons where all sides and angles are equal and irregular polygons where some sides and angles are different.
For this activity you will need a whiteboard and 8 toothpicks for each student.
- Draw a regular pentagon and an irregular pentagon on the board.
- Get your students to count the sides and corners.
- Ask if the sides are the same length on both shapes. How can they check?
- Emphasize that shapes with 5 sides are pentagons, but if the sides and corners are not equal it is an irregular pentagon.
- Discuss the difference between regular and irregular shapes and polygons.
- Invite students to share other shapes they know and discuss if they are regular/irregular, how many sides and corners they have and the name of the shapes.
- Give each student 8 toothpicks and ask them to make as many different polygon shapes as they can using the toothpicks.
- Get them to draw each of the shapes they make and list the names of the shapes and their features: number of sides, lengths of sides, number of angles and angle sizes.
Discussion questions can include:
- What different ways can you categorize shapes?
- What is the smallest number of sides any polygon can have?
- What are all the things you know about squares?
- How do you know if a shape is a pentagon?
- How can you tell a regular shape from an irregular shape?
You could then follow up with getting your students to look at a complex geometric pattern as in the picture below. Ask them to find as many different polygon shapes as they can within the pattern. You could then ask them:
- Can you name all of the shapes you find?
- Describe the shapes?
- Can you find shapes that are similar to each other? For example, they may be alike in all parts but one may be larger or smaller than another.
I’ve also put together some activity sheets that you could use in a math center to help your students learn more about polygons. Fill in the form below to get your copy now.
A fun way for kids to learn about shapes and their name and attributes is to play a game of shape bingo. My 2D shape bingo and poster pack will help your students to identify, name and describe two dimensional shapes. You’ll get some cute posters to introduce each of the shapes as well as a bingo game with a simple and advanced version. The advanced version includes clues about the shapes to work out which shape it is. Click on any of the pictures below to find out more.
Graphic Credits: Graphics From the Pond