Working with 3D Shapes

3D shape nets without flaps template to downoad free

When teaching about 3D Shapes, the fun never ends! From my first year of teaching to now, I’ve realized that students love geometry and shapes. I think that this is because they enjoy creating and/or playing with actual shape models and it is a topic that is more concrete and tangible than most of the other abstract topics in math. In my class, my 3D shape center has more games and activities than other centers (because of the versatility of the topic). My students love them. Check out my pictures below.

3d shapes made from old boxes and tissue rolls      3D shapes DIY from recycled boxes and tissue rolls

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These are the recycled cardboard boxes like cereal boxes and other small boxes (except the sphere) that are covered in colored duct tape. The cylinders are from old tissue paper rolls and aluminium foil rolls (never throw them away!) The cone was the trickiest. It’s best to actually use make it from scratch – with the net of a cone. However, I wanted this to be durable so I bought a Styrofoam cone from a craft store. I don’t know why these are sold with the tips cut off (truncated cones) so I wrapped it with a sheet of cardstock around the tip to give it a long defined tip, taped it down, then covered everything with the duct tape.

making a cube to show edges and corners      Constructing a cube

These are tiny dowel sticks that came with a set of wooden connector for building things. I use them to make cubes and I also use them for model making in science when we are designing different types of structures. This is particularrly helpful for learning about edges and corners of 3D shapes.

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Real world examples of 3D shapes are good choices for hands-on exploration. This drum (a craft project) is also a cylinder.

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Don’t forget the nets! Get free templates here.

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Shapes all around the room – large 3D shape mobile!

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Spheres Cylinders

Square based pyramids made from nets Triangular prisms made from nets

Assorted shapes for sorting by attributes. For the paper models, click on the pictures to download a free template that you can use to make these 3D shapes for your students or to have older students make them as an activity. Just print the templates on different colors of cardstock paper.

Here’s an activity I use to help with the sorting of attributes of solids.  There are a range of attributes to sort them by, you just choose the ones you want using printable Venn diagram circles that are looped to show similarities and differences between any two shapes.

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Just laminate and cut the cards out. Get it here at TpT.

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Why didn't I find this a few weeks back? This would have been a great activity for my class. No problem. That's what centers are for. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Patti White

    I love this idea. I will be sure and use it when we study 3-D shapes. I'm pinning right now!

    Thanks Again,


    A Series of 3rd Grade Events

    PS I'm now following your blog :)

  3. Teacher Nyla

    Thank you Brian.

  4. Hopkins' Hoppin' Happenings

    That's awesome Nyla! Not many girls end up liking Math as they get older, you are one of a kind! You are making it fun for the children and that's how Math needs to be for them to like it and learn it!!!

  5. Teacher Nyla

    Thanks Brian! Don't be surprised if one third of the things I create are for geometry. I've always loved it – to the point that by the time I got into high school, I was the only girl in my Technical Drawing class. And it was my favorite subject. Those were the days…

  6. Hopkins' Hoppin' Happenings

    It's an awesome game Nyla, I love it!!! You are right children love to work with 3D shapes and love geometry. I personally hated it, but not until high school. I had a football coach for a teacher who didn't teach so I try to make geometry fun for children!

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