Jelly tots and sticks can be used to create 3D shape models to make learning shapes fun! Having children make 3D shape models will help them learn about the properties of shapes. As they build them, they will be able to see the 2D shape faces that make up 3D shapes.
Children can also play around with 3D shape models to make towers and structures. This will give them the opportunity to explore what shape(s) work best to build towers, create stability, etc. You can create challenges such as suggesting that they build the tallest structure that they can. Through doing this they can experiment and find ways to use shapes that work the best to provide strength and stability. Children can work in teams, which is a great way for them to practice teamwork, collaboration and cooperation.
3D Shape Models
Above is a PDF of common 3D shapes that children learn in school. This includes – square-based pyramid, triangular-based pyramid, triangular prism, cylinder, cube, cuboid, cone, and sphere. Below are some examples of 3D playdough shapes.
What you need to make 3D shape models
- Gumdrops or Jelly Tots
- Colour Sticks or Toothpicks
*If you don’t have gumdrops or jelly tots you could also use marshmallows or playdough as a way to connect the sticks to make shapes.
Questions to ask
- What 2D shape faces do you notice on the 3D shapes?
- How many triangles, squares, etc. do you notice?
- How many edges are there? Faces? Points?
- Can you make a tower? What do you notice? Which shapes work best for this?
- What else can you make?
- Can you make a cylinder with these items? Why or why not? what about a cone?
What they get from it
This is a great way for children to learn about 3D shapes. Making models allows them to see how 2D shapes can be put together to create 3D shapes. This particular exercise also makes it easy to see ‘inside’ the shapes. It provides an opportunity for children to learn how shapes can be used in architecture. They can try out and test how different shapes can be used to support or strengthen structures.
If children work in groups to build towers or structures, it gives them the opportunity to practice teamwork, cooperation and collaboration. These are all important life skills that will help them throughout their lives and are linked with later academic success and life achievement (Konishi & Wong, 2018). This is also a great way for children to learn from one another. Even if their towers fall over, they will discover what doesn’t work. Furthermore, they can share what they learn with one another, comparing what others have done to discover what works best.
Working together in a group to accomplish a task will help children learn skills such as turn-taking, and managing their feelings and behaviour, as well as to develop self-awareness and ways to resolve conflicts. Thus, it’s an important way for children to develop social-emotional skills, which are increasingly thought to be a significant factor inlong-term academic achievement and success (Konishi & Wong, 2018).
This is also a fun way for children to practice fine motor skills. Younger children can make 2D shapes if 3D shapes are too difficult for them to make.
Take it further
Children can make playdough 3D shapes as an additional way to learn about 3D shapes and their properties (see my post coming soon). This is another good way to learn how 2D and 3D shapes relate to one another.
Children can do junk modelling to see how 3D shapes make up larger objects (see my post coming soon).
Konishi, C., & Wong, T. (2018). Relationships and School Success: From a Social-Emotional Learning Prespective. In Health and Academic Achievement. Accessed 5 August 2019, www.intechopen.com/books/health-and-academic-achievement/relationships-and-school-success-from-a-social-emotional-learning-perspective