3D Constructor of Shapes from Parts

Uses manipulatives representing parts of three-dimensional shapes, such as faces (“sides” that are 2D shapes) and angle "connectors," to make a 3D shape (a “solid”) that is completely correct, based on knowledge of components and relationships (such a right angles. With some manipulatives, such as toothpicks or similar materials (e.g., D-Stix), children may first build one or more 2D shapes and then connect them. With those that are the 2D shapes (e.g., connect magnetically) they can build 3D shapes directly.


You may see this:

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Other Examples:

  • A child uses straws to join four triangles to a square base to make a triangular prism. 
  • A child uses a connector set to link four equal-length rods together at right angles, forming the base of a three-dimensional object. 
  • When asked to make a cube sticks, a child creates a shape with six faces, each one having four straight sides and four right angles.

Help your student become a(n) 3D Constructor of Shapes from Parts

Activities provide manipulatives such as straws or sticks for sides and chanelle sticks (small segments to fit into ends of straws) or globs of plasticine for angle "joiners." They ask children to build accurate models of various shapes, discussing for example, that six faces are needed to make cube, and that a sphere has no flat faces.

Special Thanks To

Institute of Education Sciences
The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through grant numbers R305K050157, R305A120813, R305A110188, and R305A150243. to the University of Denver. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.