Hands-on Maths: Exploring Solid Shapes

Hands-on Maths: Exploring Solid Shapes

As I’ve shared before, I like to set up little invitations for my kids, which they are free to use or not. Most of the time they do and other times obviously my ideas aren’t that great or exciting, ha! I wanted to share one today that I think went really well!

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Hands-on Maths: Exploring Solid Shapes

Both of the girls like building things at the moment, and my 6 year old likes when I give her building challenges so this was mainly aimed at her. I set out the new Spielgaben solid shapes along with the sticks and balls for building. And, squeezing in a little meaningful reading practice as well, I left a note for her saying ‘Can you make the solid shapes with the sticks and balls?’

Hands-on Maths: Exploring Solid Shapes

She jumped straight in as soon as she found it, choosing a triangular prism to build. First, she looked at the shapes she could see…

‘So, I need to make 2 triangles and 3 squares!’

Hands-on Maths: Exploring Solid Shapes

She made the first triangle, and then counted out 3 more balls and found 3 sticks the same length to make another triangle the same size.

Hands-on Maths: Exploring Solid Shapes

‘I made 2 triangles! Now I need to make the squares’

Hands-on Maths: Exploring Solid Shapes

‘I need to find 4 balls and 4 sticks the same size’

Hands-on Maths: Exploring Solid Shapes

A square is made for the side. I could see that this obviously wasn’t going to work but kept quiet, it was important for her to discover why herself.

Hands-on Maths: Exploring Solid Shapes

Trying to attach the square to the triangle.

‘But how will this join up to here? Oh! I don’t need these 2 balls because I’ve already got them here. I can take them off’

Hands-on Maths: Exploring Solid Shapes

The prism begins to take shape.

Hands-on Maths: Exploring Solid Shapes

Finally, with a few adjustments, it’s finished! She was very happy with her efforts!

Next up she made a cube, and with the cube and triangular prism next to each other she had the idea to join them together to make a house. This is where the activity ended and another game started with her younger sister involving the house, some dolls, and a balloon. I let them follow their own lead and continue playing instead of bringing her back to the task. Trying to stop them and keep them building would have taken all the fun out of the activity and made it about what I wanted her to do instead of letting her follow her own interest. Instead, I simply set the same invitation out the next morning to see if she would be interested in building more.

Hands-on Maths: Exploring Solid Shapes

Again, she wanted to build another shape. This time she chose a hexagonal prism and I was able to see what she had learnt from her experiences yesterday. Instead of looking at the faces and making each shape she could see, she counted the vertices and worked out how many of the balls she would need first.

‘Mum, this has 6 points, it’s a hexagon’

Hands-on Maths: Exploring Solid Shapes

‘I need to get 6 balls for the points on the top, and 6 sticks for the edges’

Hands-on Maths: Exploring Solid Shapes

Working out the right angles to make a hexagon was tricky.

Hands-on Maths: Exploring Solid Shapes

Soon enough we had a hexagonal prism!

‘I did it! Now it’s a solid shape’

The girls then used the prism in the block area and continued to play with it.

People often ask how I occupy my 4 year old while my 6 year old is doing things like this and most of the time the answer is that she just joins in where she can on her level and they work together.

Hands-on Maths: Exploring Solid Shapes

To start with she thought that it was too hard and she wouldn’t be able to make the shapes. She had another idea.

‘But I can make a pyramid with the Magna-Tiles!’

Hands-on Maths: Exploring Solid Shapes

After watching her sister build for a bit she then decided to have a try for herself and was able to make some shapes.

I think I’ll leave the activity out for a few more days until they have exhausted it. It was one of those things that only took a couple of minutes to set out but really got the girls engaged and so much learning was taking place. By having to actually build the shapes it required them to really focus on the features of each shape: different angles, how many vertices and edges they had, what shapes the faces were made up of, etc. Not to mention the practice in problem solving, motor skills, hand-eye coordination, creativity, reading, vocabulary, and I’m sure much more!

And the most important thing for me was that they enjoyed themselves.


Spielgaben version 4 retails at US $449.50. You can own this new version at 11% off as a Happiness is here reader!

 Special: US$399.50 | AU$486 | GBP 270 
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May 1, 2015 at 5:01 am

I would love to buy Spielgaben, is so full of possibilities! But the price…, is not that I don’t think is worth it, but that we’re saving for a big dream… I will just keep on eyeing it..

May 2, 2015 at 1:10 am

Thanks for the ideas! I am a homeschooler and I am always looking for ideas to teach.

May 5, 2015 at 8:22 pm

I love this! Such a simple but inviting activity.. love the little challenge and the way they tackled it 🙂

Anastasia @Montessori Nature
May 6, 2015 at 10:01 am

I love how beautiful your small board with a task looks. Such a great idea! Great post, thank you for sharing!

May 6, 2015 at 3:29 pm

What a fantastic idea!! I just love so much about this x

June 23, 2015 at 10:52 am

Hello, I just discovered spielgaben & am researching to see if it is worth the cost for our girls. Can the resources that come with with kit be used as a stand alone math curriculum? If so, how far can it take the kids? What concepts are included or not included? Thanks!

    June 25, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Hi Cara! I wouldn’t say it’s a stand alone curriculum, no. It doesn’t cover everything in the Australian curriculum anyway. It does come with lots of resources though, and there are many more ideas on the internet. We usually do our own thing with it though 🙂

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