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Three

Dimensional

Shapes

(3D Solids)

LEARNING OUTCOMES

By the end of this topic, you should be able to:

1.

2.

primary school level;

3.

and

4.

pertaining to geometry for kindergarten or pre-school and early

primary school children.

X INTRODUCTION

We live in the world of three dimensional (3D) shapes or solids. Everything

around us is in the form of solids such as the house we live in, the garden, the

trees, the cars, the fruits and the furniture we use. The round shape of an apple

we consume, the cylindrical shape of a pencil we use to write with and the

cubical shape of the thick books that we read are all examples of 3D shapes

around us. Most of the objects around us are three dimensional solids and occur

as either regular or irregular solids.

TOPIC 9

9.1

183

dimensions of length, breadth (width) and thickness (depth). Solids have either

flat or curved surfaces. Cornflakes containers, classrooms, tables, cupboards and

matchboxes of cubical or cuboidal shapes are examples of solids with flat

surfaces. Other 3D solids of spherical shapes with curved surfaces include globes,

tennis balls, footballs, cones and cylinders whilst examples of 3D solids of oval

shapes are eggs or rugby balls.

We have to understand more about shapes around our world. Shapes and figures

change when looked at from different perspectives. As newborns open their eyes,

they would either be looking directly at their mothers faces as a plane or twodimensional (2D) shape or be directly exposed to 3D solids from the front view.

Slowly as they grow older, children will develop more advanced geometric

thinking and better understand the concept of geometry dealing with solids,

shapes and space applicable in the world they live in.

ACTIVITY 9.1

How do architects, engineers or designers interpret the graphic

drawings of 2D shapes in 3D models of houses, apartments, cars,

aeroplanes, ships and tankers? Discuss.

9.2

WHAT IS GEOMETRY?

by the relationship of lines, surfaces and solids in space as defined in Longmans

Dictionary.

Geometry is the exploration or investigation of space or discovery of patterns

and the relationship of shape, size and position or place in space. These are

observed in and derived from the immediate environment and the much wider

world, both natural and man-made.

The teaching of geometry is the development of experiences, skills and processes

for children to enable them to operate and understand their world or

environment better. It is thus essential that children learn about geometry and its

wide applications in real life well so as to be better equipped for the future.

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ACTIVITY 9.2

Think of some examples of real-life applications of geometry. Discuss the

importance of geometry in real life.

9.3

children acquire knowledge, provide basic concepts of geometry and critical

geometric thinking that will improve the childrens ability to manipulate their 3D

environment. Since geometry is a branch of mathematics, it should be integrated

within the Mathematics syllabus for KBSR and KBSM. The teaching of geometry

should be done early at pre-school or primary level to be continued to secondary

school and higher level education.

The following are various reasons why geometry should be taught in schools:

(a)

skill to be mastered by all children. Learning mathematics and geometry

will prepare children to solve problems they face or are confronted with

every day in real life as stated by Tom Cooper (1986).

(b)

imagery within a geometric framework. A strong foundation in Geometry

is thus necessary.

(c)

Learning about geometry and its applications to real life provides the basic

knowledge and geometric understanding vital for application in future

careers especially in the technical and vocational areas. Understanding

geometry is essential in the fields of navigation and exploration. Geometry

comprises important elements or essential knowledge for astronauts, pilots,

sea navigators, architects, engineers, mathematicians, carpenters, interior

decorators, models and fashion designers.

ACTIVITY 9.3

How do children learn geometry? Why should children learn geometry in

stages? Explain.

TOPIC 9

9.4

185

GEOMETRY

children, teachers have to take special consideration of the childs intellectual

development as a frame of references.

According to Jean Piagets Model (1964-1967), a childs experience, living

environment and biological maturation will all influence his or her development

of geometric thinking and understanding, which are:

(a)

geometric concept; and

(b)

geometric properties and relationships within ones environment.

Children should thus be learning the concepts in stages.

9.4.1

Integration of Jean Piagets research, Van Hiele's Model and other research

findings will be the basis for designing instructional tasks and learning

experiences for young children. There is no one universal theory in designing the

teaching strategies or learning activities of geometry. Thomas Fox (2000)

suggested that instructional tasks should be in line with the childrens ability or

their level of reasoning. Hannibal (1999) suggested the importance of language,

vocabulary and description in helping childrens development of defining and

categorising features of shapes.

9.4.2

Pierre van Hiele and Dina van Hiele-Degolf are two Dutch educators who

provided guidance in designing the instruction and curriculum of geometry. The

Van Hieles work which began in 1959 attracted a lot of attention especially in the

Soviet Union (Hoffer, 1983).

Today, the Van Hiele theory has become the most influential factor in designing

the curriculum for geometry worldwide. Pierre and Dina van Hiele believed that

children should learn geometry in five levels or stages. Learning activities must

be in progressive stages and avoid gaps resulting in confusion. Hypothesis

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showed that when children miss certain stages of these experiences, they would

face obstructions in their progress in understanding geometric concepts.

According to research by the Van Hieles, teachers or educators must provide

children in elementary or primary school with at least the first three stages in the

process of learning geometry. Instruction and learning activities should be well

planned according to the pupils level of geometric thought. Pupils will

successfully learn geometry when they are given the opportunity of a good

learning environment and the right experiences according to Andria Troutman et

al. (2003).

Van Hieles five levels of geometric thought are explained in Table 9.1:

Table 9.1: Van Hieles Five Levels of Geometric Thought

Level

Description

Level One

Visualisation

their appearance. They are able to identify the shapes of two

dimensions or three dimensions through visualisation. Their ability

to identify shapes is basic depending on the sense of sight or feeling

without understanding the geometric properties of each figure.

Level Two

Analysis

characteristics of shapes or figures but they cannot visualise the

interrelationship between them.

Level Three

Informal

Deduction

children are able to establish or see interrelationships between

figures. They are able to derive relationships among figures

followed by simple proofs but not with complete understanding.

Level Four

Deduction

significantly. They can understand the significance of deduction, the

role of postulates, theorems and proofs. They are able to write

proofs with understanding.

Level Five

Rigour

how to work in axiomatic systems and even non-Euclidean

geometry can be understood at this level.

TOPIC 9

9.5

187

geometry can be very difficult and confusing to young children. This topic will

provide kindergarten or preschool and year one primary school teachers the

overview of teaching geometry to children four to seven years of age.

Since there is no universal theory for the teaching of geometry, this topic will

guide and expose teachers to a few research findings and models as a knowledge

base in designing instructional teaching experiences and tasks for different age

groups.

Before designing or planning teaching and learning activities for young children,

teachers have to know their pupils background experiences, living environment

and their levels of thinking. The childrens intellectual development and their

levels of understanding will be the basis or the framework in designing

geometric thinking. Learning geometry is even more critical and very important

since it provides tools for critical thinking and analysis for problem solving in

real world situations.

The teaching of geometry to young children can be formal within the

mathematics classroom or during informal activities at the canteen, playground

or other outdoor venues. The introduction of simple geometry concepts can be

within their environment or the childs natural settings. It can be integrated while

they are playing in the playground, painting, acting in a drama, story-telling or

having a puppet show. Tom Cooper (1986) suggested the following teaching

approaches in line with the levels of Van Hieles Model. See Figure 9.1.

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9.6

TOPIC 9

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KINDERGARTEN OR PRE-SCHOOL

GEOMETRY

Children at the early age of four to seven are unable to visualise shapes or solids.

To them, shapes or solids look alike or are similar and confusing. The spatial

concepts of solids and space are still undeveloped in young children of three,

four and five years of age. They cannot visualise shapes from different

perspectives or do not possess visual imagery as yet.

The way children learn about geometry is through exposure or appropriate

learning activities and experience. Teachers have to plan and choose appropriate

learning activities and suitable materials for relevant tasks to develop childrens

understanding of topology, simple Euclidean concepts and discovery of the

properties of shapes, solids and space. Andria Troutman (2003) suggested that

activities for kindergarten or preschool children should be of three kinds (see

Table 9.2):

Table 9.2: Andria Troutman's Three Kinds of Activities

for Kindergarten or Pre-school Children

Activity

Description

Refine topology

ideas

enhance childrens understanding about topology, space and

directions. Such activities help children to use relative

prepositions and vocabulary such as enclosed boundary, inside,

outside, adjacent, beside, between, from above, under, bottom,

etc. Well-planned activities will help children to use suitable

prepositions, whether written or oral, to describe where the object

is located in space. These activities will facilitate the development

of childrens spatial sense.

Extended geometric

knowledge of

simple Euclidean

and topological

ideas

lines and angles. They can visualise and differentiate between

shapes of triangles, rectangles, squares and trapeziums.

Discover properties

and relationships of

geometric figures

through observation (visualisation). They will observe the

properties of the shape and study how they behave. Suitable

materials and appropriate activities such as matching, sorting,

fitting and altering shapes allow children to discover

relationships and properties of shapes.

TOPIC 9

189

length, area, volume and proximity at this stage. Through appropriate drawing

and painting activities, children can refine many properties of geometric figures.

Drawings of young children show that mountains, trees, houses, and cars are

smaller than flowers or themselves. Spatial relationship among objects within

space is not established among young children yet but they begin to structure

and order in space.

During the process of a childs development, these three types of activities should

be integrated with the respective geometric concept and relevant manipulative

materials. Besides the commercially made or manufactured materials, it is

important that teachers make geometry materials that will provide for a better and

wider range of teaching aids to enhance their pupils understanding.

9.7

FOR PRE-SCHOOL GEOMETRY

A wide range of teaching and learning activities can be used for teaching

Geometry at pre-school level. Various learning outcomes to be achieved pertaining

to the learning of pre-school geometry include:

(a)

Identifying shapes using the surface area and exploring the relevant solids;

(b)

(c)

(d)

Using the correct vocabulary and language to describe shapes and solids

during activities.

Some samples of teaching and learning activities suitable for teaching geometry

to pre-school children are described below.

Activity 1: Identifying and Matching Shapes and Solids

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this activity, pupils should be able to:

(a)

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Materials:

x

Pencils;

A4 paper.

Procedure:

(i)

Divide the children into small groups of four to five pupils each.

(ii)

Each group will get a set of playing blocks, a set of coloured pencils or

crayons, a piece of A4 paper and pencils for each pupil.

(iii) Get pupils to match the surface area of the solids (blocks) to the respective

template or hole in the circular box (see Figure 9.2). Teacher will facilitate

the activities and give instructions to guide them while doing the activity.

This activity should take about 10 to 15 minutes.

(iv) Children in their groups will insert the blocks into the appropriate hole and

each pupil should be given the opportunity to explore and discover on their

own.

(v)

When they are done, check the childrens findings. Point to one of the holes

and ask the pupils to choose or select the suitable or appropriate block from

the pile. See Figure 9.3 (a).

TOPIC 9

191

Check to confirm the pupils understanding. Repeat with other solids and

let them try to fit into the respective hole of the shapes. See Figure 9.3 (b).

(vi) Guide pupils to label and identify the shapes and solids given using their

pencils and the piece of A4 paper.

Activity 2: Visualise Shapes and Solids

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this activity, pupils should be able to:

(a)

(b)

between 2D shapes and 3D solids.

Materials:

x

Set of solids;

A4 paper;

Pencils;

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Procedure:

(i)

Let the children trace the surface area/shape of the blocks on the piece of

A4 paper, match and then compare with that on the circular box.

See Figure 9.4 (a).

Figure 9.4 (a): Set of playing blocks and shapes of surface area

(ii)

Introduce appropriate vocabulary and guide pupils to label each shape and

solid with the correct geometrical terms (word cards). Use relevant

language to describe the relationship between the 2D shapes and 3D solids.

(iii) Using arrows, match or pair the shapes with the correct solids. The colour

clue for respective pairs of shape and solid will guide the children to pair

them up. Ask them to look at the similarities between them. Encourage

them to use the right vocabulary and language in their descriptions.

See Figure 9.4 (b).

Figure 9.4 (b): Matching activity: Match the correct surface area to the playing block

(iv) Match the shape and solids by colouring the correct pairs with the same

colour. See Figure 9.4 (c).

TOPIC 9

193

describe each solid and the respective surface area. Encourage them to use

the new vocabulary and work in groups; only then can they freely

communicate with each other during the play activities.

Activity 3: Naming and Labelling of Solids

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this activity, pupils should be able to:

(a)

Materials:

x

Names of 3D solids.

Procedure:

(i)

Before this activity, teachers must introduce the correct geometrical terms

and vocabulary for every solid using flash cards or suitable teaching aids.

Teacher describes and explains to the young children simple procedures for

identifying and naming the solids. The features of solids will give the solid

its name and this can be used to identify them. See Figure 9.4 (d). Numbers

can be introduced to describe the geometric features. For instance, a cube

has 6 equal surfaces and a cuboid has 3 pairs of equal surfaces. Then, let

them discover the ideas and features for themselves. Check their

understanding using worksheets or handouts.

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(ii)

Naming of solids: Rearrange the letters (or spelling) to form the name.

Ask the children to rearrange the letters to form the names of the solids from

the flash cards. Each flash card bears a single solid and scrambled letters.

(See Figure 9.5).

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this activity, pupils should be able to:

(a)

Group given shapes and solids according to their similarities and differences.

TOPIC 9

195

Materials:

x

Cut-outs of 2D shapes.

Procedure:

(a)

Promote group discussion:

Children in their groups will discuss similarities between different solids.

They will have to group the solids according to their similar properties and

how they behave. Each solid has certain properties of its own.

For example, circular prisms can roll, possess a circular surface, with or

without edges and do not have any vertices. Prisms have flat surfaces,

edges plus vertices and can stand still on their surfaces. Teachers will guide

children to classify them into different groups according to their similarities

and differences (See Table 9.3).

Allow children or give them time to discuss and improve their oral

communication, so they are able to use suitable language and vocabulary to

describe the relationship and properties of shapes and solids.

Table 9.3: Grouping Activity: 2D Shapes and 3D Solids

Types

2D

Shapes

3D

Solids

Circular/Oval

Cylinders

Triangular

Prisms

Quadrilateral

Prisms

Polygonal

Prisms

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9.8

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FOR ELEMENTARY GEOMETRY

Some teaching and learning activities for elementary geometry are discussed

here.

9.8.1

Skills related to the learning of elementary geometry generally extend from what

is learnt in pre-school and include the following:

(a)

Naming, labelling and using the correct vocabulary for describing each 3D

solid;

(b)

shapes according to similarities and differences; and

(c)

Ability to assemble and explain types of shapes used to build models and

relate models to solids in real life.

9.8.2

Space and Shape

With respect to the learning of elementary geometry, three levels of the Van

Hiele model discussed earlier are emphasised:

(a)

Identifying 3D shapes by intuitive understanding of symmetry and

perspective. At this level, children are guided to identify geometric figures

through various activities that enable them to visualise shapes, name them,

use correct vocabulary and differentiate them from other shapes.

(b)

Analysing the attributes of geometric figures and introducing simple

concepts of proximity, separation, direction, size, length, line, enclosure,

properties and spatial ideas.

(c)

Childrens ability to compare geometric figures covers visualising

similarities and differences, developing basic concepts on spatial ideas and

TOPIC 9

197

extended concepts of geometry.

Teachers have to develop effective and creative teaching materials to

enhance pupils learning and understanding of geometric concepts. Models

or manipulative teaching materials as illustrated below are required to

promote the mental reasoning mentioned above (See Figure 9.6).

9.8.3

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9.8.4

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In general, activities for learning early geometry at the primary level are mostly

extensions of pre-school activities and are concentrated on achieving the

following learning outcomes:

(a)

(b)

Making skeletons and opaque solids from straw and play dough (coloured

plasticine);

(c)

(d)

Activity 1: Naming of Solids

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this activity, pupils should be able to:

(i)

Materials:

x

Chart; and

Procedure:

The following activities are suitable for group activities.

(i)

This activity is in line with Level One (Visualisation) of the Van Hiele

model.

Teacher will give one flash card and a set of solids to every group and ask

the children to choose an appropriate solid from the pile. Then, get them to

stick the flash card on the board and display the chosen solid.

(ii)

Repeat the activity until all the solids have been identified and named.

TOPIC 9

(iii)

199

Each group will be given a chart as shown in Table 9.4 and a set of picture

cards of various solids; pupils have to match and name the appropriate

solids accordingly.

Table 9.4: Set of 3D Models or Manipulative

Cube

Cuboid

Tetrahedron

Pyramid

Cylinder

Cone

Sphere

At this level, children are guided to identify geometric figures through the

visualisation of 3D shapes.

(iv)

Encourage discussion among the children. Use correct vocabulary and

suitable language to describe the features and properties of solids. Guide

them to identify or differentiate the solids from the other shapes.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this activity, pupils should be able to:

(a)

cones, cylinders, spheres;

(b)

(c)

triangular and quadrilateral prisms, etc.

Materials:

x

tetrahedrons, prisms, spheres);

tetrahedrons, prisms, spheres);

Chart;

Worksheet.

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Procedure:

(i)

Teacher guides pupils to visualise and explore the properties of a set of

solids one by one and record the properties in a chart.

Introduce appropriate vocabulary including face, edge, corner, etc. to

describe the properties of solids.

Repeat the steps for each solid in the set comprising cube, cuboid, pyramid,

tetrahedron, cone, cylinder and sphere. (See Table 9.5 for a more detailed

description of the procedure outlined in step (i)).

Table 9.5: Procedure for Step (a)

Level

Visualisation

of shapes or

figures

Teacher

1.

2.

Introduce appropriate

vocabulary to describe the

properties of a cube.

3.

the number of faces, corners

and edges of a cube and write a

summary.

4.

and repeats steps 2 and 3.

5.

solids in the set have been

explored in sequence.

Note: Pictures of 3D solids can

be used in place of 3D models.

Pupils

1. Pick out a cube and other

similar solids out of the pile.

x same shape or size

x similar size

(bigger or smaller size)

of the cube accordingly.

3. Record a summary of the

properties of the cube. E.g.:

x 6 flat faces

x 8 corners

x 12 edges

4. Pick out a cuboid and repeat

the steps above for the solid

chosen.

5. Repeat each step as above for

each solid displayed in

sequence.

TOPIC 9

(ii)

201

Group activity:

Using 3D solids as samples, guide pupils to produce various solids as listed

below:

x

Cube;

Cuboid;

Triangular Prism;

Quadrilateral Prism;

Pyramid; and

Tetrahedron.

(iii)

Using the solids made in Step (ii) or other models, guide pupils to compare

the similarities and differences within and between groups of solids.

Begin with comparing triangular prisms with quadrilateral prisms.

Ask pupils to record the properties of both solids by analysing the surface

area (2D shapes) and the respective 3D solids as in Table 9.6.

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Triangular Prisms

2D

Shapes

3 sides

3 edges

3 corners

3D

Solids

5 flat surfaces

6 vertices

Quadrilateral Prisms

4 sides

4 edges

4 corners

6 flat surfaces

8 corners or

vertices

Sets of 3 pairs

(surfaces)

12 edges

(iv)

Repeat the above step and compare different groups of solids such as e.g.

cubes with cuboids, pyramids with tetrahedrons, etc.

(v)

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this activity, pupils should be able to:

(a)

Build models and nets of solids (cuboids and cubes) from 2D shapes.

Materials:

x Blocks of solids/3D shapes (e.g. cubes, cuboids, pyramids, cones, cylinders,

tetrahedrons, prisms, spheres);

x

Cardboard;

A4 paper (multi-coloured);

Pencils; and

Worksheet.

TOPIC 9

203

Procedure:

(a)

(3D) to shapes of two dimensions (2D). The visualisation of cuboids can be

attained by using a pencil box to represent the cuboid. Let pupils rotate,

visualise and trace the shapes from different perspectives by looking at the

cuboid from different orientation or from different elevations i.e. top, front

and side, see Figure 9.8 (a).

Step 1: Visualisation

(i)

Trace the surfaces of the cuboid from the top and bottom to get two

similar faces.

Cut the traced shapes and slide the two pieces over one another to

check if they are congruent and similar. See Figure 9.8 (b).

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(ii)

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Trace the surfaces from the left and right sides of the cuboid.

Cut the traced shapes and slide the two pieces over one another to

check if they are congruent and similar. See Figure 9.8 (c).

Figure 9.8 (c): Left and right side views of the cuboid

(iii)

Trace the surfaces from the front and back elevation (looking from

the front and back/behind).

Cut the traced shapes and slide the two pieces over one another to see

if they are congruent and similar. See Figure 9.8 (d).

Step 3: Match and relate the traced surfaces for geometric reasoning

Figure 9.8 (e) shows how to trace the surfaces of the cuboid.

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205

Step 4: Attach the traced surfaces on to the cuboid/pencil box and make a

net of a cuboid

The cuboid/the pencil box has six surfaces (3 pairs of similar surfaces).

Refer to Figure 9.8 (f)).

(b)

Using the same procedure as in (a), produce nets of a cube like the ones

shown in Figure 9.9:

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Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this activity, pupils should be able to:

(a)

Draw 3D solids with the help of essential tools like graph paper and GSP;

and

(b)

Materials:

x

Procedure:

(a)

perspective.

Let pupils look at some animated pictures of 3D solids from a PowerPoint

presentation (e.g. cubes, cuboids, triangular prisms, pyramids, tetrahedrons).

Have an open discussion about symmetry and perspective to guide pupils to

identify and name the 3D shapes shown in the slides.

The drawing of solids will be easier for young children with the help of

graph paper, square dot paper or isometric dot paper and computer

software, such as the Geometers Sketchpad (GSP). The GSP is often used

as a tool to draw regular and irregular prims of 3D solids. Figure 9.10

shows some examples of solids drawn using the GSP. Teach pupils how to

draw the figures one by one.

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Figure 9.10: Examples of regular and irregular prisms drawn using the GSP

(b)

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this activity, pupils should be able to:

(a)

triangular prisms); and

(b)

Make a summary of the properties for each skeleton of the 3D solids made.

Materials:

x

Drinking straws.

Procedure:

(i)

After the drawing of solids, a suitable follow-up activity will be the making

of skeletons of 3D shapes using drinking straws and play dough as

illustrated in Figure 9.11. All properties of solids (corners/vertices, edges

and flat surfaces) will be discussed here.

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(ii)

Ask pupils to name each of the skeletons of 3D solids and make a summary

of the properties for all the skeletons constructed.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this activity, pupils should be able to:

(a)

(b)

(c)

Materials:

x

and

Procedure:

(i)

each group of pupils. Let pupils make models of 3D solids using play

dough or plasticine based on the picture card chart.

TOPIC 9

209

(ii)

plastic), make models like the ones displayed in Figure 9.12.

(iii)

their own using the play dough or plasticine.

(iv)

Ask pupils to label and describe the parts of the solids constructed using

appropriate vocabulary, language, name and word cards such as cube,

cuboid, triangular prism, vertex, edge, face, etc.

In this topic, the theory and approaches of learning geometry are highlighted.

thinking.

consider the childrens logical thinking, their levels or stages of learning

geometry, their biological maturation as well as their living environment.

within this model as reference and as a basic framework for teachers when

designing instruction or teaching and learning activities.

During the earlier part of the topic, discussion focused on the importance of

learning geometry and the use of geometric concepts to solve real life

problems.

literacy, should be introduced to children at an early age.

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children are suggested under various sub-headings.

Examples of teaching and learning activities for geometry given in this topic

take into account the theory and childrens levels of thought, starting from

kindergarten or pre-school and extending to early primary school.

Apex

Polygon

Area

Polyhedron

Boundary

Prism

Capacity

Solid

Cone

Sphere

Corner

Symmetry

Cube

Tessellate

Cuboid

Tetrahedron

Cylinder

Edge

Vertex

Oval

Volume

List three levels of teaching geometry for early primary or pre-school and suggest

a suitable learning activity for each level.

Pupils learn the concept of geometry while playing with and building models

using the three dimensional solids. Think of a strategy to teach Euclidean

Geometry to young children through play.

TOPIC 9

APPENDIX

WORKSHEET

1.

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