8 resources for teaching properties of shapes

Geometry has two sub-groups in the curriculum; properties of shape and position and direction. This post focusses on properties of shape — the main areas within that are: 2D and 3D shape and angles.

I thought I’d quickly summarise the objectives:

  • Y1 – recognising and naming 2D & 3D shapes
  • Y2 – identify, describe & classify 2D & 3D shapes
  • Y3 – draw 2D & make 3D shapes; recognise angles; know about right angles; identify horizontal, vertical, perpendicular and parallel lines
  • Y4 – compare & classify shapes; identify acute & obtuse angles; order angles upto 180°; identify lines of symmetry; complete a shape to create symmetry
  • Y5 – identify 3D shapes from 2D representations; estimate, compare, draw & measure angles; identify angles at different points on a line and turns of 90°, 180° and 360°; find missing lengths & angles of rectangles; distinguish between regular and irregular polygons
  • Y6 – draw 2D shapes with given dimensions & angles; recognise & build 3D shapes including making nets; compare & classify shapes finding unknown angles; illustrate & name parts of a circle; recognise angles on a point, on a straight line or vertically opposite & find missing angles

OK, so now for some resources to help. I’m going to focus on KS2, but at the end of the post, will list some resources for KS1.

2D shapes

  1. This factfile from our module on 2D shapes for LKS2 on triangles and quadrilaterals has an image and concise description of the features of each shape. It supports the Year 3 and 4 objectives about 2D shapes.

geometry 1

KS2 > Maths > Geometry – 2D shapes (Lower) > Factfiles > Triangles and quadrilaterals

Give the factfile to groups or pairs of students to scroll through and choose two facts each to find their own way of illustrating, using examples from the classroom, or objects they’ve seen out and about. Also in this module, the Quadrilateral song video reinforces features of 2D shapes in a fun way.

  1. To support the Year 5 objective about distinguishing between regular and irregular polygons, play the activity ‘Regular or irregular?’ If this is played before students work independently, it could support formative assessment to ascertain prior knowledge.

geometry 2

KS2 > Maths > Geometry – 2D shapes (Upper) > Activities > Regular or irregular?

3D shapes

  1. If you haven’t yet come across our collection of strategies, called SOS – Spotlight on Strategies, I’d suggest doing vocabulary scavenger hunt with this video on making 3D shapes.

The idea is that, by using the transcript of the video, you can identify key vocabulary that is used in the video. You display the key vocabulary (for example for this video, edges, vertices, sides, faces and polyhedrons would be good), then as the students hear the words, they either make a tally, clap, or use another signal or sign that you agree on.

geometry 3

(1.09 min)

KS2 > Maths > Geometry – 3D shapes (Lower) > Videos> Making 3D shapes

Once the video has been played through and key vocabulary identified and discussed, you can pause the video at the questions and answer as a class. Click on the links tab on the top right to find related resources.

  1. This collection of printable nets could be given to different groups to make. Display a completed version of each one, challenging pairs of students to then create their own net for a new shape. This supports the Year 6 objective about making 3D shapes, including making nets.

geometry 4

KS2 > Maths > Geometry – 3D shapes (Upper) > Printable resources

Angles and lines

  1. The video What are acute and obtuse angles? is a great introduction to the definitions of these angles, but importantly, it is also great for spotting examples of both types of angles outside of the classroom. Students could then be tasked with finding three examples each of acute and obtuse angles, either by researching online or in magazines, or creating their own drawings of real objects and labelling them.

geometry 5

KS2 > Maths > Angles and lines (Lower) > Videos > What are acute and obtuse angles?

  1. Using the video opposite angles (a Year 6 objective) helps to provide clear images to pause on and use for questioning or investigation. This video would be a great one to use in a flipped learning scenario.

If you haven’t come across flipped learning, the idea is for students to view content before the lesson. If home access is in any way tricky, you could flip this lesson by watching it in class at the end of another lesson, but not discuss it. Let the content sit with the students, and revisit the following maths lesson when they can do investigations.

geometry 6

1.21 min

KS2 > Maths > Measuring angles (Upper) > Videos > Opposite angles 

There’s a great activity that you could follow this with, to check knowledge. You’ll find it in the Links tab on the top right of the video page, along with some great questions to ask students in the Teacher’s support tab next to Links.

  1. Another great video to use the vocabulary scavenger hunt strategy with, is What is a circle?, which uses key vocabulary like circumference, radius, diameter, arc and sector.

After each one is identified, students could work in pairs to explain what each word means, ending with writing a mini glossary each — for words connected with circles.

geometry 7

1.12 min

KS2 > Maths > Geometry – 2D shapes (Upper) > Videos > what is a circle? 

  1. This video uses Rangoli patterns to demonstrate symmetry. By going into detail about how the symmetry is constructed, students can then design and create their own symmetrical patterns.

geometry 8

KS2 > Maths > Geometry – Symmetry (Lower) > Videos > Symmetry in Rangoli patterns  

KS1 has a module on Geometry which supports objectives from KS1 with over 60 different resources. Explore it here!

geometry 9

I hope this post has sparked ideas on how you might use a Discovery Education Espresso resource to teach properties of shape.

Find the featured resources:

2D shapes


KS2 > Maths > Geometry – 2D shapes (Lower) > Factfiles > Triangles and quadrilaterals
Activity ‘Regular or irregular?’

KS2 > Maths > Geometry – 2D shapes (Upper) > Activities > Regular o irregular?
Video on Making 3D shapes.

KS2 > Maths > Geometry – 3D shapes (Lower) > Videos> Making 3D shapes
Printable nets

KS2 > Maths > Geometry – 3D shapes (Upper) > Printable resources
What are acute and obtuse angles?

KS2 > Maths > Angles and lines (Lower) > Videos > what are acute and obtuse angles?
Video Opposite angles

KS2 > Maths > Measuring angles (Upper) > Videos > Opposite angles
Video What is a circle?

KS2 > Maths > Geometry – 2D shapes (Upper) > Videos > what is a circle?

KS2 > Maths > Geometry – Symmetry (Lower) > Videos > Symmetry in Rangoli patterns
KS1 here!

KS1 > Maths > Geometry


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  1. Caroline Hardman said:

    A teacher I worked with recently had a great idea for linking work on angles with PE – use iPads/tablets to take photos of children demonstrating good body position techniques (when running, throwing, different gymnastics balances, etc) and use a drawing app (eg PicCollage) to mark and identify the angles made by different body parts. Images could then be sorted (acute/obtuse/right angles) or captioned.

    • Anna Vaughan said:

      What a great idea! Thanks for sharing Caroline 🙂

  2. Andrew Tidswell said:

    As with all the videos the teaching points can be captured using interactive whiteboard software (Smart Notebook, Promethean ActivInspire and EasiTeach all have built in screen capture tools) These can be added directly to your IWB pages and then (a little like Caroline’s idea above) can be annotated to reinforce and extend the teaching points made in the videos. The same is true for all the activities, where parts can be captured and teaching points made or demonstrated on the IWB. Similarly the Snipping Tool (built into most versions of Windows) can be used by teachers and children to capture stills from a video and to add to documents etc ready for annotation or simply as evidence of the Activities completed by the children.

    • Anna Vaughan said:

      Thank you Andrew for drawing the link with the screen capture tools – a great idea to annotate parts of videos or images.

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