Friday, 23 January 2015

Engage your students with Hands-On Geometry Centers


My students love centers!  They are always excited when they see math centers on our Daily Schedule.  I love to see the engagement during our math centers and I have been experimenting with a more open-ended approach and letting them make decisions! This post is all about how I teach my 2D and 3D Geometry using centers and open-ended activities.  At the end of the post is a link to my post about how I teach Patterning.  If you enjoyed this post and the ideas shared then you should definitely check out that post too.  
  
Before I start let me just make sure that I say upfront that I am trying to figure inquiry out and what I might be calling inquiry is not what others may.  I am too much of a Type A personality to give over complete control of my classroom, but I think some of my math centers in this unit let the kids take charge and figure things out and some are more directed by me. It seems like a compromise that is working for me right now.
When teaching Geometry I like to teach 2D shapes prior to 3D and not the reverse.  I always start off by giving students a shape and having them tell everything they can about that shape just to see what vocabulary they use and what they know.  Here is our finished anchor with their thinking about these shapes. 
2d geometry, geometry centers, guided math
Another great way to launch this unit is to go on a shape scavenger.  We used our class Ipads and walked around our school taking pictures.  Afterward, they sorted their shapes and created a Pic Collage with 2 or more of each shape (square/circle/rectangle/triangle).  Print off the Pic Collage for a technology inspired display.  Another idea is to print then and then cut them out and have students sort them to create an anchor chart of real world objects that are a certain 2D shape. 

After this lesson, we did some whole group investigating and I drew out language related to the shapes.  They all get so hung up on describing by colour and size, so we learn about corners/vertices and edges/sides.  I add these words to our Math Word Wall in my star chart and I go over our learning goals for the unit. 
2d geometry, geometry centers, guided math
Normally at this point, I would get them busy with some paper/pencil tasks pertaining to shapes, but this time I decided to jump right into centers and give them some challenges to see what they could do.  I aligned the centers to the specific curriculum expectations so that I could be doing an on-the-go assessment as they used the centers. 
I was able to cover the following specific expectations with these centers:

~ Identify and describe common 2 shapes and sort and classify by their attributes
~ Compose patterns, pictures and designs using 2D shapes
~ Identify and describe shapes within shapes
~ Cover outline puzzles with 2D shapes
~ Exploring symmetry

At this center, the students were given a piece of construction paper and the shapes and they could create whatever they wanted from the shapes.  
Another option was to take a task card and complete a design with either pattern blocks or 2D shapes.
2D Geometry - Are you looking for engaging math centers that are no prep for you and that your students will love to use? My first graders loved this center and the 11 other centers that are part of this resource. Click now to see all the fun activities included.
The next, more open-ended center, was a pattern block center where students created a design of their choice and then recorded the blocks they used.  There was a bit of a learning curve here as some realized elaborate designs were hard to record.  Most were able to find a happy medium and came up with some awesome creations. 

2d geometry, geometry centers, guided math
2d geometry, geometry centers, guided math
The geoboard center was probably the most exciting.  There are two options here. Students could use a task card and create it on the geoboard or take a geoboard picture card and try to recreate it. Afterward, free exploration on the geoboards leads to lots of great learning too!  


2D Geometry - Are you looking for engaging math centers that are no prep for you and that your students will love to use? My first graders loved this center and the 11 other centers that are part of this resource. Click now to see all the fun activities included.
2D Geometry - Are you looking for engaging math centers that are no prep for you and that your students will love to use? My first graders loved this center and the 11 other centers that are part of this resource. Click now to see all the fun activities included.
This center challenged them to sort shapes by any attribute they choose.  I provided shapes for them but also had real shapes to use as well.  This showed a lot about their understanding of the attributes of shapes.  
2D Geometry - Are you looking for engaging math centers that are no prep for you and that your students will love to use? My first graders loved this center and the 11 other centers that are part of this resource. Click now to see all the fun activities included.
The activity was a challenge.  The students that enjoy puzzles were really motivated to find out different ways to cover the shape.  Some found it very difficult because it was a very spatial task and they could not see how to piece the blocks together. 
2D Geometry - My students love to use pattern blocks and I bet yours do too. This is one of 12 engaging math center activities that my students loved using during our geometry unit in math. Visit my blog and see many of the other 11 centers in action.
2d geometry, geometry centers, guided math

After day two of noticing this, I did a mini lesson at the end of the day where we covered a shape on the smartboard with pattern blocks and then superimposed other pattern blocks on top to see how the shapes fit together.  For instance, they learned how 6 triangles could make up one hexagon, for instance.  You could see the lightbulbs going off for some kids.  They then tried it themselves at their desk and recorded it. 
2D Geometry - Are you looking for engaging math centers that are no prep for you and that your students will love to use? My first graders loved this center and the 11 other centers that are part of this resource. Click now to see all the fun activities included.


The final center was to explore symmetry.  The next time I will remember to give them the miras before I start taking pictures.  Pattern blocks are awesome to use to create symmetrical designs.  I often use a straw as a line of symmetry if they are building right on their desktop.  

The best thing about getting them right into the centers was the opportunity to watch them as they problem solved through the different tasks.  The level of engagement was amazing.  On day 2 of our centers my principal, former supervising principal and new supervising principal visited.  When important visitors walk in it can be somewhat stressful but everyone was doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing and loving it so my stress level was reduced.  


Most of these activities do not require any worksheet or paper/pencil followup.  Instead, my students are trained to take photos of their learning and add it to their digital portfolio in #seesaw.  I love that I am able to scroll through my feed and see what everyone was doing while I was working with individuals and small groups.  They love to take pictures so they are more accountable for finishing their task and getting a chance to use the iPad to take the picture.  

  
I now have a folder of photo evidence to show that they are able to meet the expectations without reams of paper-pencil tasks and I can show these to parents as well.  If you like the centers I have shared you can check them out by clicking here: 


Teaching 2D geometry first makes 3D geometry a breeze!   I use very similar centers from my 2D unit to provide practice with 3D shapes.  It helps students to be able to be independent right the outset.  

I launched our 3D unit the same as I did my 2D unit - with a 3D shape scavenger hunt on the iPads! Instant engagement!  Provide lots of opportunities for students to handle and explore with 3D shapes. It will help when they are trying to talk about the attributes of the shape and be able to tell about what the shape can do - slide, stack or roll - through experimentation.  

This is a sample of those centers.  Click on the picture to go to the full set. 
3D geometry centers - sort 3D shapes, describe and recognize 3D shapes by their attributes, build models of 3D shapes.  Engage students with fun, hands-on centers.


3D geometry centers - sort 3D shapes, describe and recognize 3D shapes by their attributes, build models of 3D shapes.  Engage students with fun, hands-on centers.
If you enjoyed reading this post then check out my post on how I teach Patterning and the hands-on centers and activities I use.  Click on the image below to head over to that blog post.  
Patterning Centers - students will identify, create and extend patterns as well as solve patterning problems in these fun and engaging patterning centers for K-2.





9 comments:

  1. These look like fantastic activities!! I love that you just let the kids dive right in... that's the best way to get at their thinking!

    ~Erin
    Mrs. Beattie's Classroom

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    1. You are right about that! Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. Such a creative lesson! I absolutely love all of the hands on components that you have incorporated with this lesson. I can imagine that your class is an exemplary example of how student engagement should look!!!

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  3. These centers look like so much fun! I wish I was in first grade!! I love how you have the kids add to the anchor chart- that is a different way to do it other than just call and record like we do! I am going to have to try that out this week!
    Thanks for sharing!

    Love Always, Diana Lynn

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  4. Thank you so much for linking up!

    Hey, I recognize that old pattern block recording page. Mercy! That was an old one of mine. I love the updates you did to it.

    Fantastic post!

    Mrs. Wills Kindergarten

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    1. OMG! What are the chances that I am using an older sheet of yours with my 2D geometry unit. I am glad you are OK with my own version of your worksheet. I really wanted a place for them to sketch their creations.

      Thanks for creating the link up and for stopping by to read my post.

      Christina

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  5. I love these activities! What grade is this meant for?

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    1. Hello, these activities are suited to Kindergarten, Grade 1 and perhaps Grade 2. I am glad you enjoyed reading my post.

      Christina

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  6. LOVE THIS ARTICLE! I am going to teach a lesson on geometry in my fieldwork Kindergarten class! I feel more confident that I can create a great lesson! Thank you so much for the ideas!

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