3rd Grade Math: Easy Polygons

Students in 3rd grade typically learn to classify and recognize polygons by how many sides and angles they have. Most 3rd graders learn to find the perimeter of a polygon and the length of one side when the perimeter and the other sides are given. You can turn this potentially boring task into a lot of fun for your child with the following tips.

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How Can I Make Polygons Easy for My 3rd Grader?

Start with the Basics

Eight basic kinds of polygons are commonly taught in 3rd grade, from the triangle with three sides to the decagon with ten sides. If you're supplementing your child's math lessons with at-home practice, there is a variety of approaches you can use to teach your child the basics and make learning polygons fun.

Books about Polygons

You can find books that introduce polygons in a fun way. Look at the library or your local bookstore for the following titles.

  • If You Were a Polygon by Marcie Aboff
  • Polygons by David L. Stienecker
  • Polygons by Marina Cohen, from the My Path to Math series
  • The Great Polygon Caper by Karen Ferrell

Toys and Tools for Making Polygons

Children love to make shapes. You can start by giving your child some paper and markers to draw, color and decorate different types of polygons. Using small marshmallows and toothpicks is a fun and tasty way to make them. Tinker Toys and Play-Doh are other useful tools.

Games that Teach Polygons

Games are a great way to help your child identify different types of polygons. You can search online for free games that focus on polygons, or use some of the activities below.

  1. Cut out some polygon shapes and place them on a tray. Let your child study the shapes. Cover the tray, and remove one shape, keeping it hidden. Ask her to tell you which shape you removed.
  2. Arrange a few large cut-out polygons on a table. Make smaller polygons that are identical to the large ones, and place them in a container. Have your child choose a shape from the container, name it and place it on the matching shape on the table.
  3. Cut out large cardboard polygons. Blindfold your child. Give her one of the polygons and ask her to name it by feel.

Move on to Perimeters

You can demonstrate how to measure perimeters once your child can identify different types of polygons. A perimeter is the total distance around a shape.

Take a walk with your child around the perimeter of your yard. Ask him if he can figure out how far you walked. The easiest way is to measure each side and add them together. Walk the perimeter again, measuring each side and adding them as you go.

Once you have determined the measurements of the entire perimeter, walk around again. As you walk each side, review how many feet you measured for that side and how many feet you've walked in total so far. When you get to the last side, ask your child how many feet you have left to walk. Work it out together, and finish the walk.

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