Shape Mural

There was a beautiful soul that taught at my school. She was a kindergarten teacher. I didn’t know her too well, but we bonded for many hours when we taught summer camp together. She died very suddenly in the Fall.

Even though I was with her for only a few short weeks, I could tell I was in the presence of a woman who knew how to inspire young children to learn. She was one of those teachers that never raised her voice. She never let students ruffle her feathers. She was serene. One of the weeks’ themes was Hawaiian Fun. While I was scrambling about and searching Pinterest to accumulate enough activities for the themed week, she was able to think of a perfect open-ended, art, geography, and science activity without batting an eye. She guided those kids to make a mural of the Hawaiian islands out of cardboard cup holders. So simple!! And so powerful!

At summer camp, one of the weeks’ themes was Hawaii. While I was scrambling about and searching Pinterest to accumulate enough activities for the themed week, she was able to think of a perfect open-ended, art, geography, and science cross-curricular activity without batting an eye. Those kids made a mural of the Hawaiian islands out of cardboard cup holders, paints, and glue. They chatted with us while they painted. They asked questions. They decided what tools and materials would best make the mural. It was an immersive learning experience for all of them.

I respect her so much and when I started our class unit on 2D and 3D shapes, I thought of her and the mural project and I made a connection that I could introduce group mural projects for just about any subject matter. My first experiment was this 3D to 2D shape mural. I’ve seen activities similar to this on Pinterest, but we took it two steps further.

  • First students chose 3D shapes and traced their faces onto craft paper.
  • Then, they colored in the 2D shapes with colored paint.
  • Next, they examined the corners and sides by outlining the shapes in black paint with small watercolor brushes.

I love how this activity hits SO MANY early childhood standards!! It’s also a mix of self-directed, peer group work, and teacher-guided learning strategies.

2D & 3D Shapes in Space!

My students loved learning about the whole “secret world” of 3D shapes! It’s so fun to see their faces change after reviewing all the flat 2D shapes (that some of them have known for years) to the world of 3-Dimensions.  They all think it’s going to be the same old lesson they have had before and then BOOM! We’re talking about cubes, cylinders, and prisms!

I love teaching this lesson and the kiddos could not be more engaged for the whole thing, from start to finish!

I literally like to start most of my lessons with a song or a dance 😉 So for this lesson, I start by having everyone make a big circle on the meeting rug to sing a song and introduce 3D shapes.

I have a great set of 3D shapes similar to these on Amazon.

I show the shape, we (briefly) talk about if they’ve seen anything this shape before and then pass it in a circle while singing these fabulous little rhymes about each one.

I use these from the fabulous Vanessa Levin of Pre-K Pages. Bless her heart for helping teachers like us with freebies this great!

Next, after I know everyone has a little base knowledge about 3D shapes, we continue the adventure with one of the best math picture books I’ve ever read. It’s called Captain Invincible and the Space Shapes and it’s one of those books that mesmerizes the kids.

The book has an amazing suggestion to give each student in the classroom a copy of the spaceship dashboard while you read the book.

Before I even bring the book out, I tell them we are about to go on a space adventure and that I will need their help to steer the spaceship. Every time I have done this lesson, I get complete buy-in from the whole class. 4 year-olds absolutely cannot resist a good space story!!!!

While reading I love taking a look around to see who knows the shapes already and who is struggling a bit. Either way, they all love love love the book. 🙂

Last come their turn to design their own spaceship using space (3D) shapes! I pair up the kids by social and academic strengths. One student is the designer of the ship and the other is the builder.

I have enough little trays of blocks for each group and a copy of SpaceshipPlan