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Today's focus is 3D shape properties


Over the next two days we are going to be exploring 3D shapes.  At this point in the academic year we would hope that your child is secure in identifying most 2D shapes and understanding their properties of sides and corners. If your child is unsure of 2D shapes then this could be a focus over the half-term if you would like something to do in the holidays (by no means an expectation, just a suggestion should it help!).


Today we are going to be focusing on the key vocabulary used when talking about 3D shapes. Children often muddle the vocabulary between 2D and 3D shapes. The terms 'faces', 'vertices', and 'edges' are only used for 3D shapes, of which these are explained in the image below. If they talk about corners or sides it is important to correct this to avoid confusing with 2D shape properties. 


In Reception we would explore the cube, cuboid, sphere, cylinder, cone and triangular prism. Below is an image for you, not your child, to use which also lists their 3D properties to help with this activity.

For today's activity you will need to gather up some household items that are these 3D shapes. There are so many around your house without you realising. Here's some ideas to help you get started...


Cube - a dice, a packaging box, a gift box 

Cuboid - a cereal box, a large book, a Tupperware storage container, a packaging or gift box.

Sphere - a ball, a football

Cylinder - a toilet roll, a bottle, kitchen roll, a pot or jar.

Cone - a party hat, ice cream cone

Triangular prism - Toblerone chocolate box, modelled out of playdough


You will also need the vocabulary cards below...

Share with your child the objects that you have found for each 3D shape.

*First of all we start by establishing what your child already knows...


What type of shapes are they? This is the perfect time to share that 2D shapes are flat shapes, 3D shapes are fat shapes!

Do you know any of these 3D shape names? Cube, cuboid etc. Don't worry if they don't use the correct names...this is what this activity will help with. It just helps you to understand what they already know/don't yet know.

How would you describe this shape? In an ideal world we would hope for faces, edges and vertices but realistically it is highly unlikely and they will use words like - spikey, corners, sides, big, long. Don't worry - that is expected. 


*Next, you can introduce the shapes as 3D shapes and that they all have their own names. These songs are popular to help children remember their names. You can always go back to one or more of these at the end of your session to recap and have some 3D shape song fun.

3D Shapes | Fun Shape Song for Kids | Jack Hartmann

3D Shapes Song | Shapes for kids | The Singing Walrus

3D Shapes I Know

*Following the songs can they match the names to the shapes using the shape name cards?


*Then together explore the key features of the 3D can we describe them to our friends in superhero headquarters? Explain where the edges, faces and vertices are. The 3D shape vocabulary cards can help with this along with lots of modelling and touching of the shapes for hands-on learning.  Take one shape at a time. 


When you have looked at the six shapes and talked about their properties then it's game time!


*Give your 30 seconds to look around the house for each 3D shape. "Find me a.... ___________!"  They get a point for finding something that is the correct 3D shape. They can then score an extra point for either identifying a feature when asked "show me a face/edge/vertex" or for saying a fact "it has one six faces" if they are confident with 3D shapes. Support them if they make a wrong statement to prevent learning inaccuracies. Then send them to look for the next 3D shapes until they have covered all six. How many points can they score?  You can play this game again tomorrow and see if they can beat their score!


Don't forget you can always finish with a 3D shape song from above!


Need a stepping stone?

If your child is finding this activity challenging then begin just three of the 3D shapes and gradually building it up. With the shape properties just look at faces and edges...they can develop their knowledge of vertices when they are more confident. 

When out and about do some 3D shape spotting and reinforce the 3D shape name. Your child will need lots of modelling and talk from you to help embed their learning. 


Need a further challenge?

Put all of the shapes in a bag (non-transparent). You aren't allowed to take the shape out of the bag until it has been guessed. You can give them clues to which shape it is by giving the details..."it has a curved face, it has no vertices, it is a ..." You can then swap over...they have to feel it in the bag and give you clues...the hard part is giving accurate clues!  Have fun!