A fabric drawstring bag, large enough to hold a number of 2D (I used thin card shapes, which are obviously 3D, the children and I discussed this before we started)or 3D shapes.
When teaching shape to primary pupils from Year 2 to Year 6, I often found that although they could name and recognise the shapes, they would find it hard to describe the properties by just looking at them alone. I also found that they would quickly forget the properties of a shape from one lesson to the next. I wanted to develop an idea that could be used quickly and regularly at times when shape was not a focus of what we were learning.
How could I make learning the properties of shape more interesting? How could I cater for my kinaesthetic learners?
What I did:
I began to use the ‘feely bag’ as a mental and oral starter with my class, over the period of time that we were learning about shape.
Before the start of the lesson, I filled the bag with a number of either 2D (I used thin card shapes, which are obviously 3D, the children and I discussed this before we started) or 3D shapes or both depending on the age group of the pupils. I invited pupils one at a time to come and feel inside the bag. They would then try to describe the shape to the other pupils in the class.
They were encouraged to describe the shape using mathematical vocabulary ‘It has four faces’ etc. then the other pupils would try to guess the name of the shape. If they were correct they take the shape out of the bag and the pupil who guessed correctly can take over the feeling of the shape. Alternatively, the person feeling the shape could answer questions from the other pupils e.g. ‘How many vertices does the shape have?’ This can also be limited to ‘yes/no’ questions, e.g. ‘Does the shape have 8 vertices?’
I have found that when introducing these activities for the first time the descriptions that the children give can be limited and not always accurate e.g. confusing vertices and edges. However the more the games are played and the more the vocabulary is modelled and reinforced the better they become at it.
What responses would I expect the children in my class to give? How can the use of correct mathematical vocabulary be encouraged?
I have found this a brilliant activity to do with children and have used it in Key Stages 1 and 2.
How can this activity be adapted for my class?
It encourages lots of speaking and listening and I have found that the children become more motivated to use mathematical vocabulary when describing the properties of shape. They are also more likely to remember the names of the shapes they are describing because they want to ‘win’ a turn to feel inside the bag. When they are feeling the shape they are getting a ‘sense’ of the shape which in turn encourages more thoughtful and accurate descriptions.
What other opportunities could I give for my pupils to work kinaesthetically with shape?