Editor's note: This post was originally published on November 25, 2014.
Your child will begin learning about geometry in kindergarten and continue studying the topic throughout high school. With hands-on activities and projects, exploring geometry can be fun. But, it can also be a challenging topic for some children to grasp.
The correct use of geometry vocabulary can be particularly difficult for students of all ages. Over and over in the classroom, I hear 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 math teachers and one that continues as students get older and the work becomes more difficult.
When you walk into a kindergarten class, you won't just see squares and circles anymore. Kindergarten students now learn and explore both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional shapes. Vocabulary like sphere, cylinder, and cube can be tricky for kindergarteners, but having a 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 more.
A child who understands that 2-dimensional shapes are flat and 3-dimensial shapes are solid will be more successful in later topics such as area, perimeter, volume, and more. Identifying that a 2-D shape has two dimensions (length and width) and a 3-D shape has three dimensions (length, width, and height) will help her internalize the shapes' meaning.
At home, there are many things we can do to help our children grow in their knowledge of geometry, no matter their age. Using the correct math language when playing with your children is critical! 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 and activities to do with your children to increase their comprehension:
1. Vocabulary Ring — Create a vocabulary ring with different geometric shapes and vocabulary words. Use index cards to write and/or draw the word or shape on one side, with the definition on the other. Fasten the cards together with a ring hook. The contents can be added to every year as your children grow in their understanding. It can be a great resource for homework and study periods.
2. Memory – With each shape your child 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. (Learn more about how your little one's memory functions.)
3. 2-D/3-D Sort — Draw, print, or cut out lots of different pictures of 2-D and 3-D shapes. Have your child sort the shapes into these two categories. Encourage her to talk about the characteristics of the different shapes and what makes them 2-dimensional compared to 3-dimensional. (Bonus: Use Klutz: Draw It 3-D to encourage your child to make his art pop by using 3-D drawing techniques.)
4. Geometry Scavenger Hunt — Create a list of different shapes that need to be collected for the scavenger hunt. For example, your list might include three cylinders, two circles, and four rectangular prisms. You can provide pictures for younger children. (Or, use this printable of geometric shapes to help kids find 2-dimensional objects around the house.) Your child can also go outside to collect all of the items from the list.
Remember to talk about and identify different shapes with correct language when exploring with your child. Enjoy watching your child grow as she learns to explore the world around her and start to see geometry in her every day life.
Featured Photo Credit: © kali9 /iStockphoto