Introducing 3D Shapes

Introduce children to 4 solid, or 3D, shapes: the sphere, cube, cuboid and pyramid. You'll find hands-on ideas below as well as posters and other printables and fun worksheets to get you started.

Hands On Ideas

  • Wooden shapes. You may have a set of educational wooden shapes, or an old-fashioned set of wooden bricks which includes at least a cube and cuboid shape. Let the children handle the shapes and discuss their properties. How many faces, sides, vertices (corners) do the shapes have?
  • Playdough. Ask the children to choose one of your wood shapes or bricks (above) and copy the shape with playdough. Perhaps children can work in pairs and guess what shape the other has made.
  • Printables. Print out our posters and try to match the shapes illustrated with objects in your environment.
  • Which ones? Put a collection of solid shapes in front of your child and ask them to point to the sphere, remove the cuboid, pick up the cube and so on.
  • Odd ones out. Ask children to find and name the odd shape out from a selection.
  • Hunt for shapes. Look for pictures in a magazine or objects around the home that have distinct 3D shapes.
  • Play snap challenge. At any point during the day, call out "Find me a cube!" or similar. Make sure there is one to be found first!

Taking It Further

  • Discuss. How do 3D shapes differ from 2D shapes? Which 3D shapes are harder to model from playdough?
  • Sorting. Assemble a variety of solids in various colours and sizes (or pictures cut out from magazines, or our 3D shape sorting cards below). Ask the children to sort them - by shape, by colour, by size.
  • Vocabulary. Make sure that your children can describe the solid shapes they are working with. For example, "A cuboid has 6 equal sides, each of which is a square", or "A sphere is like a ball."
  • Get creative. Cut images of solid shapes out from magazines and build them into collages. Robots work well! All the images used should be 3D.
  • Names. Learn to write the names of these four solid shapes with the help of our handwriting worksheets below.
  • Extra shapes. Introduce a cylinder too.

Our 3D Shape Resources

3D Shapes Photographic Flash Cards

3D Shapes Photographic Flash Cards

These photographic flash cards can be used to introduce and reinforce the first 3D shapes "in real life" for children. We cover spheres, cubes, cuboids and pyramids and have 8 photos for each.

3D Shapes Photographic Slideshow

3D Shapes Photographic Slideshow

This slideshow has many "real world" examples of spheres, cubes, cuboids and pyramids to show children. Slides progress at 10 seconds to allow discussions of the pictures, but you can advance quicker if preferred by left clicking with your mouse.

3D Shapes Playdough Mats First 4 Shapes

3D Shapes Playdough Mats First 4 Shapes

These fun playdough mats encourage a hands-on approach for learning about 3D shapes! Can the children make each of the shapes (a sphere, cube, cuboid and pyramid), then answer the questions about each one? You can laminate the mats so that they can be used over again.

3D Shapes Word Tracing - First 4 Shapes

3D Shapes Word Tracing - First 4 Shapes

You could use these 3D shapes word tracing worksheets as posters once completed. Alternatively, laminate them and use with dry wipe pens for extra practice. There are some tricky spellings to learn here!

Colour the 3D Shapes Worksheets

Colour the 3D Shapes Worksheets

There are 2 worksheets in this pdf file. The first asks the children to identify and colour the 3D shapes - sphere, cube, cuboid and pyramid. The second extension worksheet includes a cylinder.

Cube Net

Cube Net

This cube net printable is the perfect hands-on way to learn about this 3D shape! Choose from our pre-coloured or plain white versions, then print onto card, cut out and stick together by glueing the flaps.

Cuboid Net

Cuboid Net

Our cuboid net is perfect if you're introducing the concept of 3D shapes. Choose from either our ready-coloured or plain white versions below, print onto some card, cut out then stick together by glueing the flaps. Also great for craft projects!

Drawing Nets Of 3D Shapes Worksheets Set 1

Drawing Nets Of 3D Shapes Worksheets Set 1

Here's a fun, hands-on worksheet to test how much the children understand 3D shapes. Can they use the squared paper to complete the nets of a cube, cuboid and pyramid, then cut out and make the 3D shapes? 

Pyramid Net

Pyramid Net

Learn how a pyramid is formed with the help of this pyramid net printable. Print onto some card, cut out, then glue the flaps together to make a 3D pyramid. Choose from two versions below: blank, or ready coloured in bright yellow.

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