A Surprising Favorite Game: Learning Geometric Solids

Written by Directress Cindy Genin

Do any of you remember the game, Guess Who? It was one of my favorite games when I was younger. How about the game Headbands? This is a game that is fun for the whole family. In all of our classrooms, we have two very similar works on the shelves; the Mystery Bag and Guessing Game. The Sensorial area offers the children lessons that target every one of our five senses, so this is a very popular area to practice this lesson. We teach the children that every object, person, place, etc. can be described by taste, touch, sound, sight and smell. In other words, everything has at least one, if not many attributes to describe it. Two of the children’s favorite works to do are the Guessing Game and Mystery Bag lessons with the geometric solids. Every lesson we present to the children is done in a three-period lesson. This is a fundamental approach to introducing a new concept to the child. Step 1: introduce the lesson; Step 2: practice the lesson; Step 3: check for mastery. For step 1, the child is introduced to the geometric solids. They are taught the names and we discuss the attributes of each solid. The lesson is repeatedly practiced until mastery is achieved.

To reach and check for mastery, we use the Guessing Game and/or Mystery Bag. The children are introduced to words such as “vertex/vertices, sides, straight, curved, long/longer, short/shorter, thick/wide, and thin/ narrow.” For the Guessing Game, all of the solids are laid out on the rug.

Are you comfortable using math vocabulary to talk about shapes and objects with your child? Even basics phrases like “more than” and “less time” help solidify their concepts of shapes and relationships – and soon you might find yourself saying, “How many vertices does the Great Pyramid of Giza have?” (I checked – the answer is 5!

The children cover their eyes and the teacher takes away a solid. The children take turns guessing which solid is missing. If they aren’t able to remember, the teacher will list some attributes to help. For instance, if the ovoid is taken away, the teacher can offer hints such as, “This solid is curved. It does not have any straight lines. It can roll on the ground. The base is wider than the top.” For the Mystery Bag, one object is placed inside a bag. Without peeking, the child reaches inside and uses only their sense of touch to guess which solid is inside the bag. They are encouraged to list the attributes as they feel the solid.

The beauty of this work is that the children are given many ways to practice and to reach mastery, not just with the geometric solids, but with so many works in the classroom! For example, the children can use only their sense of touch to build the Pink Tower. That is always a fun work to try and let’s face it, this is a much more exciting way to check for mastery than completing a worksheet or taking a test, right? A fun time to do this is when you set the table for dinner: “I’m thinking of something that is round and shaped like a cylinder. The inside is hollow. What is it?” “A glass!” “You’re right! We need 4 of them, please.” You can do this at home with just about anything and at any time, so let your imagination go wild and have fun playing the Mystery Bag and Guessing Game with your little ones!