Math Access for Teachers and Home Child Care Providers

3-D Forms

Children will construct various 3-dimensional objects using toothpicks and modeling clay.

Content Area Standard Target
• Geometry
• Analyze characteristics and properties of two- and three-dimensional geometric shapes and develop mathematical arguments about geometric relationships
• Use visualization, spatial reasoning, and geometric modeling to solve problems
• Recognize, name, build, draw, compare, and sort two- and three-dimensional shapes
• Describe attributes and parts of two- and three-dimensional shapes
• Investigate and predict the results of putting together and taking apart two- and three-dimensional shapes
• Create mental images of geometric shapes using spatial memory and spatial visualization
• Recognize and represent shapes from different perspectives
• Recognize geometric shapes and structures in the environment and specify their location
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 square-based 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

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

Engage the Children

1. Show the children how to form equal size balls of clay, about the size of large peas.
2. Stick toothpicks into the clay to form basic shapes of a tetrahedron, square-based pyramid, and a cube.
3. Model how to make another cube, use four more toothpicks on each face of your cube to form new square-based pyramids. Explain that the pyramids in Egypt are square-based pyramids.
4. Introduce vocabulary such as face, edge, and vertice.
5. Have the children build each of the 4 shapes and review vocabulary using their shapes as examples.
6. 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.

• 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 3-dimensional shapes.

Encourage Vocabulary

• 2-dimensional – A shape having 2 dimensions (length and width)
• 3-dimensional – 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
• Square-based pyramid - A pyramid with four triangular faces and one square face
• Face – A flat surface of a 3-dimensional 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

Supporting Children at Different Levels

Toddlers   Pre-K

Toddlers may:

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

Pre-K Children may:

• Easily construct the 3-dimensional 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 3-dimensional 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

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