Overview: In this lesson connecting math shape attributes and creating dance movements to solve a problem, students explore how to use their bodies to demonstrate shapes within categories.
Content areas: Math and Dance
This lesson has been designed for use at the end of the year during your geometry units with 2nd and 3rd grade. At this point in the year, students need to move and conveniently, geometry units are typically taught in May and June when the weather is nice and we can take our lessons outside.
That’s not to say that you can’t use this lesson at other points in the year, or within your own classroom space. However, if you have the opportunity to take your class outside and are currently teaching about shape attributes, you may find that this STEAM lesson is a perfect fit.
Within this lesson, students are developing an understanding that shapes can share attributes and be classified in specific categories, such as parallel and non-parallel shapes. Once they do that, they need a way to apply that understanding. In this example, students are creating the shapes from these categories using their bodies both individually and as part of a collective. Students need to understand how their body can be used to create shape within space by themselves and which shapes they cannot physically create themselves. From there, students can work collaboratively to create any given shape or use their bodies to solve a shape problem. For example, how would you create a quadrilateral if you only had 3 people in your group?
The last piece that we add in this lesson is the limitation of time and elements. By the end, students have a very limited timeframe to complete the task and cannot talk to each other in order to solve the problem. This lifts the challenge to a new level and provides students with a chance to work through creative problem-solving.
As an extension, you could create choreography of shape categories using group compositions and perform the piece as a whole dance number.
Susan Riley is the founder and President of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and Arts and the Common Core.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.