Geometry is a concept that starts at an extremely young age for our children and never really stops. It's one of the only topics that formally begins in kindergarten and continues through high school. Geometry is one of the more “fun” concepts taught in school with hands-on activities and projects, but it can also be a very abstract and difficult idea for some children to really grasp. One of the most challenging parts of geometry can be the correct use of vocabulary. I see it over and over again in the classroom when students say, “I know I've seen that shape before but I don't know what it's called.” This is the biggest challenge for teachers in geometry and one that continues to grow as students get older and the work becomes more difficult.
When you walk into kindergarten classes you won't just see squares and circles anymore. Kindergarten students are now learning and exploring with both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional shapes. Although the vocabulary can be tricky at such a young age…sphere, cylinder, cube, etc…the deep understanding of the difference between a 2-D and 3-D shape is extremely important. The implications extend throughout each child's educational understanding with regards to polygons, area and perimeter, volume, and much more. Having children really understand the characteristics of a 2-D shape versus a 3-D shape and the measurable attributes of each, will have a great impact on their learning later on.
At home, there are many things we can do to help our children grow in their understanding of geometry no matter their age. Using the correct math language when playing with your children is the most important! We need to encourage them to always use “math talk” when describing and referring to shapes, which means we need to do the same. Below are some ideas/activities to do with your children to increase their understanding:
• Vocabulary Ring – create a vocab ring with different geometric shapes and vocabulary words. Use index cards to write/draw the word or shape on one side with the definition on the other. Fasten the cards with a ring hook. This can be added to every year as your children grow in their understanding. It can be a great resource during homework and study periods.
• Memory – with each shape your children learns, write the name on one index card and draw the shape on a different index card. Mix the cards up and place them face down. Take turns playing memory to match the name of the shape with the picture of the shape.
• 2-D/3-D Sort – draw, print, or cut out lots of different pictures of 2-D and 3-D shapes. Have children sort the shapes into the 2 different categories. Encourage them to talk about the characteristics of the different shapes and what makes them 2-dimensional compared to 3-dimensional.
• Geometry Scavenger Hunt – create a list of different shapes that need to be collected for the scavenger hunt, ex: 3 cylinders, 2 circles, 4 rectangular prisms. You can provide pictures for younger children. Kids go around the house or outside to collect all the items from the list.