Solids: Exploring 3-D Solids with Everyday Objects

by Laurie Laurendeau on September 19, 2011

Your Kindergarten or First Grade child will explore 3-D solids (sometimes called 3-D shapes) in the environment around them.  You can help your child’s understanding of these 3-D solids by looking for solids around your home.

What is it?

A 3-D solid is a 3-dimensional figure.  Some examples are a cube, rectangular prism, pyramid, cylinder, cone, and sphere.  Your child will likely begin by learning about cubes and cones in Math.


  • The names of the 3-D solids are not as important at this stage.  Of course, you can certainly talk about the solids using their names, but it is not expected that your child know all the names of the solids.  The goal is to have your child be able to recognize 3-D solids in her environment.


Pretend you are going on a safari with your child, but instead of looking for animals, you’re searching for solids!  Start in the kitchen – there are many things that are the shapes of solids.  Here are some suggestions:

Cone: ice-cream cone

Cube: Dice from a game, box

Rectangular Prism: juice box, tissue box

Cylinder: soup can, Pringles chip can, ziti pasta

Sphere: bouncy ball, gumballs

Pyramid: You might have to get creative with this one!  Try looking up the Great Pyramid of Giza on your computer for a picture.


Materials: sugar cubes, glue

Sugar cubes are a great way to explore cubes.  Challenge your child to make a house out of the sugar cubes.  Or, try making a tall tower instead.  Be sure to point out that all the sides on a cube are squares, and they’re all the same.  See if your child can figure out how many sides each cube has!


Materials: ice-cream, ice-cream cones (the pointy kind), Sweet Tart candies (cylinders), any other candy that is in the shape of 3-D solids

Scoop out a scoop of ice-cream (try to keep it in the shape of a sphere) onto a plate.  This will be the clown’s head.  Have your child decorate the face using assorted candies.  Be sure to talk about it as she’s making it.  “I see you used some cylinders for the clown’s eyes”, and “The clown’s whole head is in the shape of a sphere”, etc..  She will have to work quickly so the ice-cream doesn’t melt!  Finally, put the cone upside down on top of the ice-cream to form the clown’s hat.  Now comes the best part… eat it!


  • Children often confuse 3-D solids with 2-D shapes, such as squares, circles, triangles, etc..  Be sure your child is calling a cube “cube” and not a “square”, and a sphere “sphere” and not a “circle”.


  • As always, playing math games at home is a great way to reinforce math skills learned in school.
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