Constructing Group Shapes

by Ashlyn Anderson

Constructing Group Shapes

By Ashlyn Anderson






40 minutes



2014 National Theatre Arts

  • Anchor Standard 1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.
    • TH: Cr1.1.3.a. Create roles and improvised stories in a drama/theatre work.
  • Anchor Standard 5: Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation.
    • TH: Pr5.1.3.a. Participate in a variety of physical and cognitive exercises that can be used in a group setting for drama/theatre work.


Mathematics Grade 2

  1. Geometry
    1. Reason with shapes and their attributes
      1. Understand that shapes in different categories (e.g., rhombuses, rectangles, and others) may share attributes (e.g., having four sides), and that the shared attributes can define a larger category (e.g., quadrilaterals). Recognize rhombuses, rectangles, and squares as examples of quadrilaterals, and draw examples of quadrilaterals that do not belong to any of these subcategories.



Students will demonstrate their ability to identify and create shapes by acting in role as architects and designers to build quadrilateral-shaped rooms using their bodies.


Big Ideas:

  • Group shapes
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration


Essential Questions:

  • How can I communicate meaning using my body movements and gestures?
  • How do theatre artists use group shapes in a shared drama experience?


Enduring Understandings:

  • Theatre artists make strong acting choices to convey meaning through the use of their bodies.
  • Theatre artists collaborate to build group shapes and character roles.


Prior Experience:

Students should have already had a lesson on polygon attributes. They will use what they know about these attributes to build a requested group shape in this lesson.


Materials Needed:

  • Copies of the Customer Order Form
  • Optional: long sections of rope (at least 12 feet)
  • Clipboards
  • Pencils



Make copies of the Customer Order Form.


Lesson Plan:

Warm up:

Play the drama game ‘Group Shape’ (found at Divide the students into 2-3 large groups and have them find their own space. Their goal is to create a collective shape of an object with their bodies as the teacher counts down from ten to one. When you reach “one,” say “freeze!” The students must freeze as the teacher goes around and inspects each group shape (e.g., an elephant, a plane, a piano, etc.).


Encourage the students to work quickly and creatively, as there are no wrong answers. Invite them to consider using multiple levels and lines. How can they incorporate their full bodies in the shape?


After each “freeze,” tell the students to look around the room at their classmates’ shapes. Ask them to consider the similarities and differences in their group’s choices and ideas.


After a while, consider calling out an object that has motion, asking them to demonstrate the movement of the object (e.g., a campfire, a tree in a storm, a ticking clock, etc.).


Variation: Ask the students to build the group shapes working silently.


Variation: Reduce the time to only five seconds. Encourage them to work together to create a group shape in half the time.



Now bring the whole class back together and explain that we will all work together to make one group shape. Pantomime passing out some magic, invisible drama rope to each child in turn, asking them to hold out their hands and take a firm grasp of the rope (or use a real long section of rope). We will use this magic drama rope to show the outline of our group shape.


Ask the class to work together now to make a giant class shape with four sides. Encourage them to work together and to keep holding onto the rope so that we can see the outline of the shape.


When the students have completed the four sides of the shape, discuss the image they made. Does the shape have sides of equal or unequal length? (Count the number of students on each side to determine this). What type of angles does this shape have—right, obtuse, or acute? Are any of the sides parallel to each other?


Step 1:

Use the whiteboard to draw and label the various types of quadrilaterals as a review for the students. Refer to the background information for teachers at the end of this lesson for what shapes to draw and label on the board. Draw and label the various types of angles in addition to quadrilateral shapes.


Variation: If students have not received enough classroom instruction about quadrilaterals and angles, consider teaching the rest of the lesson about only one type of shape or about only the three types of angles. Reduce the complexity of the following architect activity as necessary.


Step 2:

Explain to the students that they will now act in role as architects. What is an architect? (An architect designs and manages the construction of a building). As architects, they must use their knowledge of angles and quadrilaterals to fulfill their customer’s orders.


Pass out the Customer Order Forms (shared in lesson plan attachment) and put students in 2-4 large groups. Each group completes an order form, requesting the shape of a room to be built by another group. Rather than requesting a shape by name, (i.e. “a trapezoid room”), have the groups create a story problem (i.e. “a quadrilateral shape with only one pair of parallel sides”). With guidance from the teacher(s), groups should complete their order forms.


Step 3:

After the order forms are complete, pair the groups in such a way that one group acts as the customers while another group acts as the architects to build their requested shape. The architects can either hold onto real rope or the magical drama rope to complete their orders.


Variation: Depending on the geometry content knowledge of these students, they may or may not be ready to pair up and complete the order requests of another group. Consider having students work within their own groups to order and create quadrilateral room shapes; or work as a whole class to complete individual students’ customer order forms.


Remember to use side coaching to help the students stay in role as customers and architects. Encourage them to have fun making these professionals and characters very different from their normal selves.


The teacher may choose to have students sit as an audience for these “performances” or not. All students may work simultaneously to practice building group shapes, or otherwise some students may informally perform their scenes with customers placing orders and architects building rooms while the rest of the class watches and observes.


Step 4:

As architects complete each shape, ask the students to check for the accuracy of the shape. Discuss the types of angles and lines present in each group shape. Based on the wording of the customer order, is there another possible solution to this shape request?



Students can be assessed on their participation and accuracy in constructing group shapes. The teacher may collect their customer order forms in order to assess their comprehension of angles and quadrilaterals.


Constructing Shapes in Geometry Lesson.Ashlyn Anderson