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Geometric Nets of 3D Shapes


A geometric net is flat or 2D model, of a 3D shape.  This hands-on activity, allows children to see what a 3D shape looks like, in 2D form, and gives them the chance to construct 3D shapes, out of 2D models.

The activity is suitable for learners of any level, and has the added bonus of developing fine motor skills through the coloring, cutting and assembling each shape.

Printing the net outlines on cardstock, will make them easier to cut out, and assemble.  It will also help them last longer!


  • Have children color each shape before cutting and assembling.  Using a different colour for each shape (such as red for the cube, green for the rectangle, etc.), will help differentiate the shapes, and solidify the concepts.  This turns the activity into a creative-style math project.  Kids can choose their own colors, or the group can vote on which color each shape should be.
  • Once the shapes are assembled, have children name, count, and even label, each part of the shape (sides, faces, vertices).
  • In a larger group, kids can put all the shapes together in a pile, and take turns sorting them into matching categories (all the cubes in one pile, cones in another, etc.).

Ideas to Further Extend the Learning:

Use this activity to practice math vocabulary.  Words connected to the concepts can be discussed, practiced, and even added to a word wall.  Language concepts can be connected by having students say the words, and clap the syllables, or fill in the missing letters on a chart or chalkboard (eg. P_ra_i_  = Pyramid)

Have kids compare and contrast shapes by counting faces, edges, vertices, and other notable characteristics.  Children can sort shapes into categories according to these attributes, which will help them grasp the similarities and differences between shapes.

Finally, students will enjoy comparing their 3D creations with an object in the real world.  They could go on a scavenger hunt individually, in pairs, or groups, to find shapes that correspond to the shapes in the activity.  This activity can be further extended to other subject areas by having them record their observations (science), draw or photograph the real-life objects they find (art), or list and briefly describe the objects (language).  Furthermore, kids can present their finding to the class or group (oral language/presentation skills).

With just a little imagination, the possibilities are endless for this simple stem card activity!

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