Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Learning About 3-D Shapes With the Help of Holiday Crafts

Baby bookworm and I have been doing some holiday crafts over the past week or so.  But, if you are familiar with this blog, then you know I can't just do a craft without throwing in some extra learning with a book.  Plus, I'm not a 'real' crafter (is that a word?), and in fact, doing crafts with a two year old kinda gives me a headache.  But, I know that baby bookworm LOVES doing them and they are an important part of the hands-on learning process (not to mention great for building fine motor skills).

So, alas, we do them.  We may not do them as well or as creatively as some of the super awesome craft blogs out there, but we do them.  And, we learn from them.

The crafts that we created turned out to be a lot of fun actually (I think the KEY to doing crafts with a two year old is doing prep work, and having a plan).  Most importantly, they lended themselves very nicely to a little lesson on 3-D shapes.  So, here is our attempt at being crafty, followed by two books and a brief explanation of how we used them to help learn about spheres, cones, rectangular prisms, and cylinders.

So, I give you our snowman.... (not sure why he's so sad).

He was made out of styrofome balls that we stuck together with toothpicks.  We added an orange pipe cleaner for a nose and green ones for arms, googly eyes, some foam cut outs for a mouth and buttons, black pom poms for a hat, and a ribbon for a scarf.  To get him to stand up we used a small section from a paper towel roll.

Next, I give you our paper plate Christmas tree.

Baby bookworm colored the plate green with a marker and a green dot painter (you could easily use green construction paper though).  Then I cut a slit halfway through the plate and folded it up to create the Christmas tree cone shape, and just taped it up with plain ol' scotch tape.  We decorated it with colored pom poms, and added a section of a paper towel roll for the trunk so it could stand up.

Next is our fancy (yet not really THAT fancy) present.  

This craft was really easy.  We wrapped up a rectangular shaped box (baby bookworm helped with the taping part) and then added some foam stickers to make it a little more festive.

And, last but not least, here is Mr. Reindeer.... (who is at least not sad, but for some reason has no mouth at all).

He was made by tracing baby bookworm's hands and cutting them out and gluing them to a section I had cut from a paper towel roll (that roll came in pretty handy).  We used googly eyes and a red pom pom for a nose and voila...Mr Reindeer.

Now...the LESSON.

We began by reading two great books on 3-D Shapes.

The first was 3-D Shapes Are Like Green Grapes! by Tracy Kompelien.  It's essentially a little mini reference guide to 3-D shapes.  I love how the concepts are so clearly explained, and examples are shown through photographs of real objects.  The glossary at the back of the book is helpful, too.

The second book was Cubes, Cones, Cylinders, & Spheres by Tana Hoban.  There aren't any words in this book.  Just photos of different scenes that contain these 3-D shapes.  For example, there is a photo of baseballs in a basket, and one of a little girl dressed up like a witch.  So it was great to use this book as a follow-up "quiz" to the first one.  As we flipped through the photos, one of our conversations looked like this:

Me: "What is this object (while pointing to the baseballs or another 3-D shape of interest)?"

Baby Bookworm: "A baseball." (baby bookworm was quite good at identifying the objects)

Me: "And what shape is a baseball...a sphere, a cube, a cylinder, or a cone?"

Baby Bookworm: "Huh?" (her classic response when she doesn't know the answer)

Me: "Well, lets take a look at our reference book (as I opened the first book we read).  It doesn't look like the ice cream cone, and it doesn't look like a battery which is a cylinder, and it doesn't look like a present which is a cube or a rectangular prism, so it must be a sphere because it's round like the basketball. Can you say sphere?"

Baby Bookworm: "Sphere." 

We continued on like this until we examined all of the shapes.  I'm not going to lie, this is a difficult activity for a 2-year old.  I got a lot of "huhs?" But, here's the part that made understanding this concepts easier: connecting what we read to our holiday crafts.

So, I got out our crafts and lined them up in a row.  Then, as we looked through the books again, I pointed out the spheres in the snowman, the cone shape in the Christmas tree, the cylinder shape in Mr Reindeer, and the rectangular prism which was our present.

It was like a light bulb went off.  I think baby bookworm began to understand these concepts once her learning was not only connected to something that was familiar to her, but the shapes went from abstract concepts in a book to something concrete.

And, this morning she says to me, "I want to hold my snowman.  He has spheres." 

Well, not exactly.  But I'll take this as success.

Happy Holiday crafting to you!  There are tons of great ideas floating around on the kid-crafty blogs!

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