Grade: 1-2
Subject: Mathematics

#1239. The Birthday Message: Teaching Basic Shapes

Mathematics, level: Elementary
Posted Tue Nov 7 05:43:37 PST 2000 by Juliana Galiyas (
Indinana University Of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA USA
Materials Required: The Secret Birthday Message, By Eric Carle, shapes cut outs and labels, geoboard
Concepts Taught: Shape Recognition


Read the book The Secret Birthday Message by Eric Carle to the class. Discuss the book with the class. Ask the students how it would feel if they received a crazy letter similar to the Tim's secret birthday letter. Ask the students who might have sent
Tim the birthday message.


Ask students to recall the shapes found in Tim's birthday message: semi-circle, star, oval, triangle, circle, rectangle, and a square. Put the construction paper cut outs of the geometric shapes on the chalkboard with magnets. Ask the students how the shapes are the same, and how they are different. Can they divide them into categories?

Put the name with each shape on the board. Read the shape names out loud as a class. Ask the students if they see any of the shapes on the board in the room around them. Talk about each shape. Points out the steps are not an actual geometric shape.
Ask the students if they can name the two basic shapes that combine to make the steps.

Ask the students where they can find any shapes that are on the board in the classroom or at home. Discuss any shapes that can be found in the classroom or at home.

Give each student a geoboard. Say the name of a shape in front of the room. Have students make the shape on their geoboard, and then hold the geoboard up so that that the teacher can see if they are making the shapes correctly.

Ask the students: How would you feel if they received a birthday message? What would you like to be at the end of the path?

Tell the students to choose a partner. Tell the students to pretend that tomorrow is their partner's birthday, and you want to make it special They are going to write birthday message to their partner just like the one Tim received for his birthday. This letter must contain eight shapes, and they can only use one shape twice.


The students will draw a map with crayons that corresponds to the birthday message they wrote. Students will then read their letters to the class.


The teacher will evaluate the students on their understanding of basic shapes based on the correct use of shapes in their birthday message and their map.