First Grade Shapes


According to the revised Virginia Standards of Learning for 2009, students in Grade One will explore basic geometry in the form of shapes. They will focus on identifying and tracing, describing, and sorting plane geometric figures (triangle, square, rectangle, and circle) according the number of sides, vertices, and right angles; and will also construct, model, and describe objects in the environment as geometric shapes.

Below is a list of five exceptional books to read with students while studying this topic.

  1. Emberley, E. (1961). The Wing on a Flea. Canada: Little, Brown & Co. In poetic form Ed Emberley writes about triangles, rectangles, and circles in a descriptive way that helps children think about shapes in the environment. Teachers can utilize this book to provoke children to describe shapes in their own words, create shapes poems, and identity shapes around the school and classroom.
  2. Grover, M. (1996). Circles and Squares Everywhere! Singapore:  Harcourt Brace & Co. This book is a good resource to use when students are first beginning to compare and describe different shapes. Teachers can explain that a circle is different from a square in that a square has sides and is a polygon, while a circle has no sides and is a plane geometric shape.
  3. Hoban, T. (1974). Circles, Triangle and Squares. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., inc. This black and white photography book is filled with shapes that students have to search for. Since this is a picture book, the teacher may use it to ask questions about different shapes, have students identify shapes using vocabulary, and describe objects in the environment as geometric shapes.
  4.  Murphy, S. J. (1998) Circus Shapes. Illus. Edward Miller. USA: Harper Collins Publishers. This book is an excellent resource to have children examine, identify, and describe plan geometric figures. Four shapes are featured in the circus-circles, triangles, rectangles, and squares- and all are described according to their attributes.

  5. Thong, R. (2000) Round is a Mooncake. Illus. Grace Lin. San Fransisco: Chronicle Books. This book asks children thoughtful questions at the end of each description of a shape, and promotes cultural awareness as it highlights Chinese culture.

Below is a list of helpful web sites for kids to explore while learning this topic.

  1. From the web site Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, created by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, students can use an interactive geoboard to create rectangles, squares, and triangles. They can compose shapes in different sizes and positions to see that while the new shape may look different, it remains the same shape.
  2. This interactive web site from Primary Resources introduces children to different characteristics of each shape and asks them to identify a shape’s sides, angles, and vertices. Since this site is from the U.K., it is a good idea to explain to children that in the U.K. they call a rectangle an oblong.
  3. This simple shape sorter from Primary Resources asks children to classify shapes into different groups: right angles or no right angles, four sides or more or less than four sides, and quadrilateral or triangles.
  4. The web site Illuminations allows children to explore numerous shapes, form patterns and objects with different shapes, and cut a shape into several different shapes.
  5. This site from Primary Games is a simple memory game that asks children to match different shapes. It is a basic tool that will help children identify shapes and explain attributes of different shapes.

Below is a list of helpful additional resources to support instruction for this topic.

  1. Beacon Learning Center offers an insightful student web lesson for teachers to do with their students. This story about Mr. Mumble, an eager little mouse, explains to children the angles, sides, surfaces, and vertices of two-dimensional polygons and asks them to describe these shapes in their own words.
  2.  This is a PDF printable worksheet from Math that describes different shapes.  Students have to answer questions based on their understanding of attributes of shapes.
  3. This is a resource for parents from the Elementary Mathematics Office, Howard County Public School System (2008,2009). It lists objectives, vocabulary, and activities for parents to do with their First Grade students during geometry lessons.
  4. Geometry Ideas by elementary school teacher, Linda Longpre, gives teachers numerous ideas for student activities for Grade One geometry. She gives whole class, partner and individual hands-on activities and also lists several books for this topic.
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