When a Line Bends, a Shape Begins

In this lesson, children will use pipe cleaners to create the shapes that they learn about in the book.

Math Lesson for:

Toddlers/Preschoolers
(See Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.)

Content Area:

Geometry

Learning Goals:

This lesson will help toddlers and preschoolers meet the following educational standards:

  • 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

Learning Targets:

After this lesson, toddlers and preschoolers should be more proficient at:

  • Recognizing, naming, building, drawing, comparing and sorting two- and three-dimensional shapes
  • Describing attributes and parts of two- and three-dimensional shapes
  • Creating mental images of geometric shapes using spatial memory and spatial visualization
  • Recognizing and representing shapes from different perspectives

When a Line Bends, a Shape Begins

Lesson plan for toddlers/preschoolers

Step 1: Gather materials.

  • Two or three packages of pipe cleaners
  • The book, When a Line Bends, a Shape Begins
  • A set of  10  8”x12” shape cards for each child (each card should feature a different shape: circle, square, rectangle, triangle, diamond, oval, star, heart, crescent and octagon)  

Note: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that meet safety requirements.

Step 2: Introduce activity.

  1. Explain to the children that today they are going to read a book all about different shapes. Read the title of the book, When a Line Bends, a Shape Begins and ask the children what they think that means. Based on the title of the book and the cover, ask the children if they have any predictions about what is going to happen in the story.
  2. Read When a Line Bends, a Shape Begins. During the reading of the story, stop and discuss certain parts of the story (e.g,. other names for shapes, locate the shapes in the pictures, identify the characteristics of the different shapes).
  3. Once the book is finished, ask again: “What do you think it means when the book says, When a Line Bends, a Shape Begins?”

Step 3: Engage children in lesson activities.

  1. Explain that today the children are going to take lines (pipe cleaners) and bend them into the shapes in the book.
  2. Review the shapes on each of the cards. Explain that the children will make each of the 10 shapes in the book using the cards as guides. They might need to use more than one pipe cleaner to construct the shape. Model how the children would use more than one pipe cleaner to construct a shape.
  3. Once the shapes are finished, the children can hang them from a hanger to create their own shape mobiles.

Additional Extensions

  • The children can create shape books. Give each child a small shape booklet with 10 blank pages. Have the children draw each of the 10 shapes in their books and write the names of each shape at the top of each page. The children can also find a shape somewhere in the classroom and draw that shape on the appropriate shape page.
  • The children can also create their own “lifelike” drawings, using all 10 shapes. Have the children color the shapes in different colors, so that they are easily recognizable. The object is to embed the shapes into their drawings.

Step 4: Teach math vocabulary.

  • Shape: A form or outline (e.g.,”Identify the shape of a circle in this picture.”)
  • Circle: A round shape that has no straight edges or corners (e.g.,”A wheel is a circle.”)
  • Square: A shape with four straight sides that are the same length or size and four corners
  • Rectangle: A four-sided, flat shape with straight sides, interior angles that are right angles (90°) and opposite sides that are parallel and of equal length. Example: A square is a special type of rectangle.
  • Triangle: A pointy shape with three sides and three corners (e.g., “A slice of pizza is a triangle.”)
  • Diamond: A rhombus with four equal sides (e.g.,”A diamond looks like a slanted square.”)
  • Oval: A stretched-out circle that is shaped like an egg
  • Star: A pointy shape that has four or more pointed parts coming out from a center at equal distances
  • Heart: A shape, consisting of two half circles next to each other at the top and a V-shape at the bottom, often colored pink or red and used to represent love
  • Crescent: The shape of the visible part of the moon when it is less than half full
  • Octagon: A polygon with eight sides (e.g.,”A stop sign is an octagon.”)

Glossary of MATH vocabulary

Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.

Adapt Lesson for Toddlers
Toddlers may:
  • Be having difficulty bending their pipe cleaners to construct the shapes
  • Be having difficulty constructing shapes out of more than one pipe cleaner
Home child care providers may:
  • Bend the pipe cleaners into the shape and ask the child to identify the shape
  • Shrink the shapes on the cards so that only one pipe cleaner is needed to create the different shapes
Adapt Lesson for Preschoolers
Preschoolers may:
  • Easily identify the 10 shapes
Home child care providers may:
  • Have the children can create shape books. Give each child a small shape booklet with 10 blank pages. Have the children draw each of the 10 shapes in their books and write the name of each shape on the top of each page. The children can also find a shape somewhere in their environment and draw that shape on the appropriate shape page.
  • Have the children create their own “lifelike” drawings using all 10 shapes. Have the children color the shapes different colors so that they are easily recognizable. The object is to embed the shapes into their drawings.

Suggested Books

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

Music and Movement

Outdoor Connections

Go on an outdoor “shape hunt.” Look for shapes outside. You might need to strategically place some shapes around your outdoor space. The potential for creativity with this activity is endless. A bird’s nest could be a semicircle, the leaves or top part of a tree could be an oval, a fir tree could be a triangle and there are infinite possibilities with clouds!

Web Resources

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