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        Math + Arts | Shape Mobile

        In this lesson, students will create a shape mobile of 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional shapes made from geometric shapes.

        Lesson Summary

        There are three options for this lesson, depending on class needs and time available:

        1. Frame, Focus, and Reflection: students will watch videos about shapes.

        2. Short hands-on activity: students will have a scavenger hunt in classroom for solid shapes.

        3. Project: students will create a shape mobile of 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional shapes made from geometric shapes.

        Time Allotment

        1. Frame, Focus, and Reflection (view and discuss): 1/2 class period

        2. Short hands-on activity: 1/2 class period

        3. Project: 2-3 class periods

        Learning Objectives


        I can identify and construct solid shapes.

        I can write attributes about each solid shape on a separate piece of paper.

        Arts and Humanities

        I can identify and construct solid shapes (forms).

        I can create a balanced mobile using geometric forms.

        Prep for Teachers

        The focus of the lesson will be on geometric shapes and forms and balance. In art, solid shapes are called “forms.”


        Construction paper or cardstock

        Glue sticks



        Coat hangers

        Side cutters


        Optional: decorative tape

        Media Resources

        KET Shape Hunt

        KET Shapes All Around Me

        PBS LM Gabriela’s Balancing Act-Interactive Game


        Learning Activities

        Frame, Focus, and Reflection

        Review the names of plane shapes. Explain that some shapes are plane (2-dimensional) and some are solid (3-dimensional). Tell them to watch for the solid shapes in the video they are about to watch.

        Short Activity

        After showing the video, have a scavenger hunt in the classroom to find solid shapes.


        There are several different ways to do this project depending on how much time or help you have for preparation.

        Second grade students are able (with guidance and help) to fold and tape geometric nets into 3-dimensional shapes, but they are not able to cut them out. The nets provided can be run off on construction paper or light cardstock and cut by adults or older students in advance of the project. If you have a lot of help, you might opt to make a geometric net of each of the six shapes for each student.

        With less help, you might opt to combine three plane and three solid shapes on the mobile. Students are able to cut out plane shapes if the lines are marked for them, and again, the shapes can be run off on construction paper or light cardstock. That leaves only three geometric shapes to be cut per student. You can combine a square, a rectangle, and a triangle with a cube, a rectangular prism, and a pyramid.

        The simplest approach is to restrict the shapes to squares and rectangles, cubes and cuboids. This way, you can cut squares and rectangles on a paper cutter and have students tape the pieces together to make their own geometric nets. This reinforces the idea that the faces of solid shapes are plane shapes. It helps to use contrasting colors for the plane shapes so that students can more easily see how to arrange and tape them. Once the geometric net is taped, they can turn the net over and write the names of both the plane and solid shapes before folding and taping the cube.

        You will also need to prepare the frame for the mobile in advance. Using side cutters, cut the bottom off hangers.

        What is left will be the frame for the mobile.

        Students will need assistance throughout the project, so this is a good time to bring in parent volunteers or older students.

        Have students label the geometric nets with the names of the solid shapes it will produce. (It is very difficult to label the shapes once they are constructed, so it is best to do it before folding.) Be sure students know the proper name and how to spell it before they write the name.

        Before folding and taping or gluing geometric nets into solid shapes, you will want to attach string to the center of the geometric net. Find the center of the inside of the rectangle, cube, prism, or cylinder by marking a line across diagonal corners.

        Use the scissors to punch a hole at this point and insert about one inch of string and tape it to the shape. Leave plenty of string on the outside. It is easier to do this now, rather than trying to tape or glue the sting in the center of the shape later. This will allow the shape to hang in a more balanced position.

        Do the same with the triangle and cone, taping the string so it will come out the point.

        Bend down the tabs and along the lines to form the shape. Apply glue with glue stick and squeeze tabs against inside of shape. Hold for a few seconds.

        When glue is dry, explain that one of the principles of design in art is balance. In the case of mobiles, balance is especially important or the mobile will not hang correctly. Project the interactive mobile balance and model how changing the weight of the shapes and position on the hanger allows you to achieve balance. If possible, allow students to experiment with this somewhat easier interactive called Gabriela’s Balancing Act-Interactive Game on PBS Learning Media.

        Each mobile will need to be individually balanced, and it will require two people to do it. One will hold the hanger while the other attaches the pieces to the diagonal sides of the hanger with tape. If forms or shapes are spaced evenly on each side, the mobile will hang and be balanced. If you are using a combination of plane and solid shapes, you will need to experiment to find the proper balance.

        Formative Assessment

        What are the indicators of student progress toward or achievement of each learning target?

        Create a quiz or interactive that requires students to match a picture of 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional shapes to their names or that asks students to identify a shape by its attributes.

        Program Review

        Where does this fit in? How should you document it?

        This activity contributes to your school’s overall efforts in art programming in several areas, depending on whether you implement just the Frame, Focus, and Reflection portion or you implement the entire project.

        Document with lesson plan and samples of student-generated problems and scripts. If possible, record performances or take pictures of performances.

        Curriculum and Instruction: Aligned and Rigorous Curriculum

        a) To what extent does the school ensure that the arts curriculum encompasses creating, performing, and responding and is fully aligned with the Kentucky Core Academic Standards?

        b) To what extent does the school ensure that the arts curriculum provides for the development of arts literacy in all four arts discipline and also utilizes the Common Core Standards for English/Language Arts?

        c) To what extent does the school ensure that the school’s curriculum provides opportunities for integration as natural cross-curricular connections are made between the arts and other content areas?

        d) To what extent does the school ensure that the arts curriculum includes the study of representative and exemplary works of dance, music, theater, and visual arts from a variety of artists, cultural traditions and historical periods?

        Curriculum and Instruction: Instructional Strategies

        a) To what extent do teachers systematically incorporate all three components of arts study: creating, performing, and responding into the arts?

        b) To what extent do teachers provide models of exemplary artistic performances and products to enhance students’ understanding of an arts discipline and to develop their performance/production skills?

        c) To what extent do arts teachers provide for the development of artistic theory, skills, and techniques through the development of student performances or products that are relevant and developmentally ap propriate for students?

        Curriculum and Instruction: Student Performance

        a) To what extent are students actively engaged in creating, performing, and responding to the arts?

        b) To what extent do students identify a purpose and generate original and varied art works or performances that are highly expressive with teacher guidance?

        c) To what extent do students, with teacher guidance, routinely use creative, evaluative, analytical, and problem solving skills in developing and/or reflecting in their artistic performances and products?

        d) To what extent do students use written and verbal communication to objectively reflect on exemplary exhibits and live or technologically provided performances as classroom assignments?

        Formative and Summative Assessment: Expectations for Student Learning

        To what extent do teachers utilize exemplar/models to encourage students to demonstrate characteristics of rigorous work in the appropriate art form in most instructional lessons/units?

        Formative and Summative Assessment: Assessment for Teaching

        To what extent do students regularly reflect on, critique and evaluate the artistic products and performances of others and themselves as is grade level and age appropriate?


        Lesson Creators: Bob Montgomery, Karen Day, and Judy Sizemore


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