The past few Katie Days we have been focusing on shapes and their attributes. First we started with some sorting and classifying activities. We sorted buttons, matchbox cars, legos and more -– and came up with classifying characteristics (buttons sorted by color, by number of holes, by shape, etc…) Then we talked about shapes and what sort of attributes can they have (number of sides, number of corners or vertices, if the lines are curved or straight, etc…) We made a giant chart where we classified common shapes and came up with specific examples of these shapes in the room around us.

We then made pictures using a specific simple shape and turning it into something. Some examples were: a circle is just a circle until you add numbers and then it’s a clock, or a square is just a square until you add a window and chimney and then you have a house.

We also worked with tangrams to create specific pictures, using just the provided triangles and squares.

This morning we read Go Away Big Green Monster and made our own monsters and counted the shapes we used (triangles for teeth, circles for eyes, rectangles for hair, etc…). We also recorded the color of our monster and what emotion the monster is feeling.

First graders have been doing a variety of mental math during our afternoon time. Today we did some “quick image” activities with shapes. In this type of lesson an image is shown to the learners for less than 5 seconds, then they have to remember what they saw and be able to explain it. We have done this activity with dots to understand the decomposition of numbers. Today we did shape combinations. Each card had a design of 2 to 5 combined shapes. Learners had to draw the shapes on their own whiteboards and then be able to describe them to me so that I could recreate the design without looking at the original. This activity stretches our knowledge of geometric shapes, as well as our description, visualization, memorization, drawing muscles.

In art we have been using shape and color to produce mood. We made some Andy Warhol-esque self portraits and added color and shape to see what emotions the additions create. How does the same picture when painted red vs. blue make us feel differently?

For another art project, we read Iggy Peck Architect, a wonderful book about a boy whose teacher doesn’t recognize his enormous talent of building things (a diaper tower, a castle made out of classroom chalk and more) until it saves her life. The learners then pretended they were architects and made “blue prints” using shape stamps made from recycled materials such as empty spools, cardboard and even some legos on blue construction paper. The learners enjoyed this book so much I read them the companion story Rosie Revere Engineer and then we compared and contrasted the two books, talked about the author’s voice and illustrator’s style. We also graphed which book we liked better with Iggy Peck winning the vote by a margin!