We’ve been doing shape in class this week and I’ve been trying to find some more interesting ways for the children to learn. I find that children have a set visual idea of certain shapes, and when they are confronted with a shape that doesn’t conform to that idea, they cannot define it. For example when asked about a hexagon, the children will think of the regular hexagon shape, yet a hexagon is any polygon with 6 lines (the l shape is often found to be a problem).
To address this we did lots of work on pinboards, drawing shapes with certain properties. For example, on a 3 by3 pinboard, draw a hexagon which has 4 right angles. This practical activity got us all thinking and certainly seemed to help move away from pre-conceived ideas about what a shape should look like.
A resource I used a lot this week was a book called ‘Activities and Problems, Shape and Space’ from the Gateshead Numeracy Team. I have my copy from when I taught in Gateshead, given freely to Gateshead teachers, but now it costs £20 from the GAL education website. The book contains a lot of great ideas for teaching shape. It has a mixture of some games, some active maths lessons and some challenging shape and space problems.
Another book I used was Measures, shape and space for Y7. This has some really challenging shape and space activities which extend the children as well as some good games which can be played at a variety of levels.
I also got the children to create posters for the facts about shape we had discovered during the week. This was a popular activity which helped to reinforce the properties of shape we had been learning.
A website I found and wish I had found at the start of the week was Tangram. Children enjoy trying to solve tangrams but often the cutting up of pieces of paper and the subsequent lost pieces makes the lesson more of a challenge than it should be. The website solves all these problems and allows the children the chance to try to create a variety of shapes from the given tangram.