One of the activities I like to do about shapes is to ask my students if they can represent themselves with shapes. They are invited to reflect upon shapes in our bodies and after we decided which shapes we would use they create a ‘shape friend’ using pre-cut colored shapes. The students can create their ‘shape friend’ any way they want. After we discuss which shapes are in the human body I pre-cut the shapes as they are 3 and 4 years old and cutting is not my goal for this learning experience. Hands can be squares, triangles, or circles, bodies can be rectangles or triangles, they can use yarn or shredded paper for hair and so on. The folded rectangles for legs was my suggestions as the students previously showed interest in folding strips of paper.
- How can we use shapes to describe things?
- Does it help describing things if we know the names of the shapes?
- Which shapes do we see in our bodies?
- Can we represent/make a body using only geometric shapes?
After they create their ‘shape friends’ they have to share their work with the group, which they are really eager to do. I did half of the class in one day and the other half on another day as it was a big group. They had to say how many of each shape they used. They were free to add any other information like the name of the shape friend, if it was a boy or a girl, what was their favorite thing to do and anything they wanted to say about their shape friend.
Besides talking about each shape friend individually we also did comparisons. I paired the students and they had to find out what was the same and different between their shape friends, between their use of shapes to represent a human body. I first modeled the activity to the group. Pairing students to talk about something is a great way to develop language specially if you have EAL students in your class as well as to create bonds between students.
One of the students said ‘we can also write how many shapes we used’ so I created a simple worksheet, which was optional for them to complete.
We put our finished work on a bulletin board and a few students went back there to compare and talk about their shape friend.