Teaching First Grade Math: Shapes

Introduction
These the following resources can be used to teach first grade math, specifically geometry and shapes.  The resources could be used to teach children about constructing and modeling plane shapes found in the environment (circles, squares, triangles and rectangles) VA SOL 1.13  This blog will present five children’s shape book annotations, five kids website annotations and three additional resources for teachers to use when teaching about shapes in first grade.

Text Annotations

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Ship Shapes written by, Stella Blackstone and illustrated by Siobhan Bell is a wonderful kids book about shapes.  In this adventure children are challenged to explore shapes in the sea and on ships.  The book is creatively illustrated in the style of a patchwork quilt with many shapes cut out of fabric.  I think this book would be a great way to get kids thinking about shapes in their environments.  The illustrations are exciting and fun and the text is written creatively to challenge children about their ideas of shapes.

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I Spy Shapes in Art is written by Lucy Micklethwait, the illustrations are reproductions of many famous artists.  The book uses the repeating phrase of, “I spy with my little eye a…rectangle.” and then challenges the reader to find the shape in the famous painting on the next page.  For this example the reader is challenged to find the rectangle in the painting entitled The Snail by Henri Matisse.  The text is simple and would be great for a read aloud and to be put in a center later.  Introducing children to famous artists such as David Hockney, Henri Matisse, Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol and others is a great way for kids to see the link between art and math.  It also gets kids thinking about shapes in a creative way as well.

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Square Head by Harriet Ziefert and illustrated by Todd McKie is a fun simple children’s book about shapes.  “George was a squarehead, a box from cheek to cheek.”  He disliked circles, ovals and spheres.  He had a square room and a square house and George was stuck inside his own squarehead.  In George’s world there were square cats and dogs and birds and he liked it that way.  One night George went to sleep and had a dream that allowed him to experience all kinds of shapes throughout space.  He discovered that the Earth was round and there were other wonderful shapes besides squares.  This book is a funny way to introduce shapes and have a discussion as a read aloud and talk about all the other shapes besides squares that the children have learned about and find in their world.

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Triangle for Adaora: An African Book of Shapes written by, Ifeoma Onyefulu.  As two cousins travel through their village in search of a triangle they encounter many other shapes along the way.  Each shape is discussed and the author presents an opportunity to to learn about the shapes and their uses in the village for example the drum (a circle) is used to let people know it’s time to gather for a meeting.  The book presents the images in real color photos and not only does it provide the children with opportunities to learn about shapes in their environment but they also get to learn about cultures and traditions in another part of the world.

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Shapes, Shapes, Shapes written and illustrated by, Tana Hoban is a great children’s book about shapes.  Some say this is the best of her many books written for children.  This book is great because it has pictures of real things where children can become more familiar in recognizing shapes in their environment.  Tana Hoban has a fun simple style about her books which makes them useful for a wide range of ability levels and good for class discussions and center activities.

 Web Annotations for Kids

  • Egypt Matching Game – This is a great game by Scholastic where kids can play an interactive matching game.  It is related to Egyptian artifacts and different shapes.  It’s a good activity for students to recognize items in their environment as shapes.
  • Super Shape Building – This game allows students to build things interactively with shapes online.  Students are challenged to go on a shape scavenger hunt through Umi City with Geo and then help him find all of the super shapes to build their own umirrific vehicle.
  • I Love Shapes – This game from PBS kids features Curious George and his love for shapes.  Another great interactive site that allows kids to familiarize themselves with various shapes while playing with Curious George and The Man in the Yellow Hat.
  • The Kids Page – From Radio Disney, this matching game could be used to differentiate with lower ability level students or to reinforce shape recognition.
  • Shapes Cave – Here’s another website with interactive games.  Kids have to follow the directions and and click on the correct shapes.

Additional Resources

  • Math Active – This is a great site for teachers with tons of lesson plans and interactive games about shapes and other math content areas that could be extremely helpful in planning lessons and having games for students to play independently or at centers.
  • Scholastic for Teachers – This site is great for teachers to use for teaching math in grades K-2.  It includes games, links to assessment resources, learning activities and national standards correlations.
  • Illuminations – Here is another website that links to a student activity but is an excellent resource for teachers to use in finding activities and games, lessons and other web links.