
Obtain the Materials 

 Toothpicks
 Clay (Model Magic works well)
 Can also use mini marshmallows, gum drops, raisins, or jelly beans
 Pictures of a cube, a squarebased pyramid, and a tetrahedron
Note: Small parts create a choking hazard for children. Make sure that all materials you choose to use for an activity or lesson with children meet safety requirements. Small parts are not appropriate for children who are 5 years of age or younger.




Introduce the Activity 

 Show the difference between 2dimensional shapes and 3dimensional shapes.
 Ask the children what they notice between the 2 different types of shapes.
 Explain the difference between 2dimensional shapes and 3dimensional shapes:
 2dimensional has 2 dimensions – length and width.
 3dimensional has 3 dimensions – length, width and height.




Engage the Children 

 Show the children how to form equal size balls of clay, about the size of large peas.
 Stick toothpicks into the clay to form basic shapes of a tetrahedron, squarebased pyramid, and a cube.
 Model how to make another cube, use four more toothpicks on each face of your cube to form new squarebased pyramids. Explain that the pyramids in Egypt are squarebased pyramids.
 Introduce vocabulary such as face, edge, and vertice.
 Have the children build each of the 4 shapes and review vocabulary using their shapes as examples.
 Have the children count how many faces each of their shapes have. How many vertices (corners) do each of their shapes have? How many edges do each of their shapes have? Keep a recording sheet of their information.
Additional Extensions
 Toothpick sculptures are great for group projects! Give the children a challenge or a problem to solve (like designing a car of the future) and watch them get creative! Group members can work together to create a sculpture or an imaginary animal. They can give a small presentation on their construction. The sky's the limit!
 Give the children two different size sticks (one toothpick length and the other a longer stick). The children can make spheres, cuboids and other 3dimensional shapes.




Encourage Vocabulary 

 2dimensional – A shape having 2 dimensions (length and width)
 3dimensional – A shape having 3 dimensions (length, width and height)
 Cube – A solid shape that has 6 square faces all equal in size, 8 vertices (corners), and 12 equal edges
 Tetrahedron – A pyramid with four faces that are all triangles
 Squarebased pyramid  A pyramid with four triangular faces and one square face
 Face – A flat surface of a 3dimensional shape
 Vertice – The corner, the point where the edges of a solid figure meet
 Edge – The side of a polygon where two faces of a solid figure meet
Glossary of MATH vocabulary 



Make Adaptations 

Supporting Children at Different Levels 
Toddlers 

PreK 
Toddlers may:

Have difficulty with their fine motor skills.
 Have difficulty visualizing and/or constructing the 3D shapes.


PreK Children may:
 Easily construct the 3dimensional objects.
 Have a real aptitude for building and a solid sense of spatial reasoning.

Home child care providers may:
 Roll the balls of clay in advance of the activity.
 Help position the toothpicks & the balls so that the children can focus on construction and not get frustrated with balancing the shape and positioning the toothpicks into the balls of clay.
 Allow the children to build freely with the toothpicks and balls of clay. Take teaching clues from the child’s construction and have the child explain what they built.

Home child care providers may:
 Give the children two different size sticks (one toothpick length and the other a longer stick) The children can make spheres, cuboids and other 3dimensional shapes.
 Give the children a challenge or a problem to solve (like designing a car of the future) and watch them get creative! Group members can work together to create a sculpture or an imaginary animal. They can give a small presentation on their construction.





Books 

 When a Line Bends....A Shape Begins by Rhonda Greene (New York: HMH Books for Young Readers, 2001)




Music and Movement 





Outdoor Connections 


Using the toothpicks and balls of clay, move outside and have the children build structures they see outside. They can build their school, their house or even design a cool new playground. Working together as a group, they can build their neighborhood.




Web Resources 

