Change My Direction

Contributor: Marlene Vogel. Lesson ID: 10745

What shape are your shapes in? When you move something solid, does its shape change? Using some fun practice and active games, slide, flip, and turn your way to understanding transformation!


Geometry, Geometry

learning style
Kinesthetic, Visual
personality style
Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Primary (K-2)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Look at your refrigerator; it has a shape!

  • How about your paper?

It's got a shape, too!

Almost all things have a shape, even the pouch on this kooky kangaroo!


Now look all around you and see what shapes you find, you'll find so many shapes, it may just blow your mind!

  • But what would happen if one shape should slip?
  • Would a change in direction make it's whole definition flip?

Shapes are everywhere!

If you look around, you can name everyday objects that remind you of shapes.

For your first activity, you will take a walk around your classroom, home, or outside environment, and find everyday objects that remind you of the shapes found on the following worksheet.

  1. Print out the Change My Direction: Shapes worksheet from Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar.
  2. Talk a walk around your classroom, home, or outside environment and locate everyday items that look like the shapes on the worksheet. Try to locate objects you can move to your workspace for a later activity.
  3. Write the name of the object or draw a picture of the object in the space provided (Option: write the name and draw a picture of the object).
  4. Take the worksheet back to your teacher or parent.

Vocabulary time!

Now it's time to become familiar with the math vocabulary you can use to describe when a shape has been moved. All definitions, as well as examples, can be found at A Maths Dictionary For Kids Quick Reference by clicking on the term.

Take a look at the Shapes worksheet you completed at the beginning of the lesson. Gather the objects that you listed on the worksheet. Place each object on the table in front of you. You are going to use the objects to show how objects can be reflected, rotated, and translated, and never change their shape.

  • You will need to be able to take pictures of your objects or have someone take pictures for you.
  • You will need three large pieces of cardboard or a piece of poster board.
  • You will need markers.
  • Have someone help you locate the middle of each piece of cardboard or poster board so that you can draw a line down the middle, from the top to the bottom, of each one (See the picture below):

blank page

  • Line each of your shape objects up on one side of the line (See picture below. The objects in the picture below are just examples.):

objects on the page

  • Trace the shape of each object with a marker. Once you have traced the shape of each of the objects onto your cardboard or poster board, place all the objects back on top of the tracings. It is now time to change the direction of each of the objects.
  • First, you will translate each of the objects. Remember, to translate an object, all you have to do is slide it. Translate each object so that it is on the other side of the line but across from a different shape (See the picture below.).

objects translated

  • Once you have translated each of the objects on your piece of cardboard or poster board, take a picture.
  • After taking a picture of your objects once they are translated, place each object back on top of its tracing.
  • Next, you will reflect each object. Remember, a reflection is a mirror image. All you need to do is to place each object onto the other side of the line right across from its tracing (See picture below.):

objects reflected

  • Once you have reflected each object on your piece of cardboard or poster board, take a picture.
  • Finally, you are going to rotate each object. Instead of returning each object to its tracing, simply turn each object where it is now (See picture below.):

objects rotated

  • Once you have rotated each of your objects on your piece of cardboard or poster board, take a picture of it.
  • Upload each of your pictures to a computer, then print each picture.
  • Write the words "translation," "reflection," and "rotation" at the top of each picture. Make sure you label each of the pictures correctly (If the student is unable to perform any of the above steps, the teacher can perform the steps.).
  • Hang your pictures in the workspace to remind you what it looks like when you reflect, rotate, and translate objects!

Did you notice that each time you changed the direction, or rotated the objects, the shape stayed the same?

Let's play a game that will help you to better understand the concept of rotation!

Have you ever played the game "Simon Says"? If you have, you already know the rules, so here is a little twist with shapes!

Everyone enjoys a fun game of "Simon Says!" This time, when you play, you are going to hold a shape. Whomever is Simon and giving the directions is going to include direction for the shape you are holding. Follow the steps below, and have a great time!

  • Before you begin the game, you will need to make a shape to hold. You may either make your own shape or use the Change My Direction: Star template located in Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar.

  • If you make your own shape picture, be sure to draw another shape or pattern to designate the top, bottom, and each side of the shape. See the picture of the star below as an example.

star with shapes

  • As you can see, the star has a heart at the top. When it is moved, you will be able to see that, even though it has changed its position, it has not changes its shape.

In the next section, you have a choice of activities that will help you practice understanding the difference between reflection, rotation, and translation.

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