Teaching the properties of shapes: The Toothpick Plan

Next week is the big day... formal observation time. Ugh, I just hate this time of year! Not because I question my own teaching skills. It's the kids and their inability to act like humans when another adult enters the room. Why is it that they all turn into lunatics as soon as the principal shows her face?

Don't get me wrong... I have a lovely class this year. In fact, I like them so much that I'm hoping to loop up to third grade with them. They are sweet and cute and pretty darn smart! But Lord help me, as soon as the Big Boss comes in, you'd think they'd been raised in barns.

So as I sit here planning my lesson for the big show, I'm second guessing myself. We are just starting a unit on shapes in math, so that is what I will be teaching.

My plan is this...

  1. Read "The Greedy Triangle" to generate interest and introduce vocabulary.

  2. Explicitly teach vocabulary using Properties of Shapes Posters.

  3. Model how to use a circle map to describe a shape and then have the kids do their own in small groups.

  4. Come back to whole group and create a table showing each shape and their defining attributes.

  5. Based on the information generated, determine which shapes are quadrilaterals.

  6. Formative Assessment: Students will individually sort shapes and categorize them on a tree map according to type.

  7. Culminating Activity: Students will create their own triangle, quadrilateral, and pentagon using marshmallows and toothpicks.

The Greedy Triangle book

Did you say toothpicks?

What was that? Toothpicks? As in small, sharp projectiles made of wood? Okay, so this is where the second guessing comes in. Have I lost my freaking mind?!!! Let's just list the ways this could go oh-so-wrong...

  1. They could poke themselves in the eye and be blinded for life.

  2. They might jab themselves and end up with MRSA or some other horrid affliction.

  3. They might accidentally swallow one and pierce their internal organs.

  4. They could pretty easily use the marshmallows and toothpicks to build a giant phallic symbol.

  5. I could be sued and/or lose my license for most of the above happenings.

So what should I do? Use the toothpicks, of course! What's an effective lesson without a little danger, right?

I have exactly 26 hours to change my mind and then I have to hit "submit" and send my lesson on its way. So, if anyone objects to this plan of mine, speak now or forever hold your peace.


polygons graphic organizer


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