Students begin identifying geometric attributes at a fairly early age. Our 1st Grade teachers introduce vertex, edge, and face. Still, it seems that kids have trouble answering questions about geometric attributes. A lot of times they get the vocabulary mixed up–they can’t remember which are the vertices and which are the edges.
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Another common mistake is that they leave out some when they count. And faces are the hardest to count, because it’s really tough to mark them. So today I have some tips for helping kids count geometric attributes.
- Gives students hands-on experiences with physical geometric shapes. Just as with any other math concept, working with concrete materials builds understanding.
- Help kids develop a routine for counting vertices, edges, and faces. I typically count the attributes in this order: vertices, edges, and then faces, because vertices are the easiest and faces are the hardest. Again, allow students to practice this routine with physical shapes.
- Have students record their counts. I see kids try to hold the numbers in their heads, and that’s often not successful.
- The V in vertex actually makes a vertex. A capital E is made up of a bunch of straight lines, and that’s just like edges. The faces are the two-dimensional figures that make up the 3-dimensional shape.
- Vertices are marked with small circles and the edges are marked with a little dash. But teach kids to use an organized approach for counting. For example, to count the vertices below, the square on the bottom has 4 vertices–mark those first. Then mark the vertex on the top. Likewise, when marking edges, count the 4 on the square base first and then the 4 on the triangular faces.
- To count faces, I have the kids decompose the figure into its 2-dimensional figures. You can see below how it looks. I see 1 square and 4 triangles, so it’s a total of 5 faces.
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