Exploring and Understanding 3-D Shapes

Kindergarten Cafe

Welcome to Kindergarten Cafe - your home for teaching ideas, activities, and strategies across all content areas! I am Zeba McGibbon and I love creating resources for teachers and sharing my teaching experience with others. Kindergarten Cafe is aimed for kindergarten, but teachers of Preschool-First grade can find resources here for their students! I love to connect with other teachers so please reach out and say hello!

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In the fall, one of our first math units is all about 2-D shapes. But now that the year is moving along, my students are ready for a deep dive into 3-D shapes. I love helping them to investigate the 3D shapes and their characteristics. I especially love helping them find those same shapes in everyday life.

All of these activities come from my Shapes Unit from Teachers Pay Teachers.

Start with what they know

I love to start our unit by putting out examples of all the 3D shapes we will be investigating and having students sit around them and discuss what they notice and what they wonder. Then I ask students to sort the shapes. This is such an interesting activity. They sort the blocks in ways I never would have even thought of. It’s also a perfect pre-assessment to see what students already know about blocks – do they know the names of the 3D shapes? Can they compare shapes by sides or vertices?

Exploring 3-D Shapes

After letting the group explore with the blocks, I explicitly teach the block names. Then, I let the children explore with the blocks on their own in several different ways. I want to let my students sort the shapes in different ways and practice identifying the shapes. Students can also sort shapes by some of the characteristics we will be learning about: roll and stack, faces and vertices. Another awesome way to explore the shapes is to have them create the shapes out of playdough. They can do this on their own or add some toothpicks to encourage exploration of lines, vertices, and faces.


After letting my students explore with 3-D shapes on their own, I do several activities to make sure that everyone has the same understandings. I use this free powerpoint to explicitly teach what faces and vertices mean and what the different shapes are. Then I have my students complete these class books on the number of faces and what the shapes look like in real life.

I love to do different activities to help students see the 3-D shapes in the world around them. I have them complete a couple different shape hunts around the room and encourage families to try it at home too! Then students sort the pictures of objects into 2-D and 3-D shapes. Finally, there’s a fun partner matching activity where students match the 3-D shape with the object. I love to do these matching activities at morning meeting as a greeting!

3-D Shape Resources

There are some fun videos and books to go along with a 3-D shape unit. Not a box is a perfect book for learning about 3-D shapes. After reading this book, I have students create their own version with a 3-D shape.

My favorite videos are from Jack Hartmann and Harry Kindergarten! They are perfect for the start of a math lesson or as a closer.


3-D shape units are so much fun – especially when we let students explore with the shapes first. You will be so impressed and surprised by all that the students learn from exploring with the shapes in these different activities!

Comment below and let me know about any 3-D shape resources I might have missed!

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