Teaching Geometry to 1st-5th Grade Students in 2024

If you are an elementary teacher looking for tips and ideas for how to teach geometry, then you found the right place! Learn what geometry is, why it’s important, what your students need to know, and get 5 helpful tips for teaching it in a fun and engaging way. Read all about teaching geometry below!

how to teach geometry

What is Geometry?

Geometry is the branch of mathematics where students study shapes and figures. It is one of the oldest branches of mathematics. In elementary school, students will learn to compose, classify, sort, identify, draw and decompose two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes.

Why is Geometry Important?

It is important for students to learn geometry because it helps people in their everyday lives. For example, geometry helps engineers draft plans to construct bridges. Architects and builders are another example! They use geometry to build houses. A third example is event planners. They use it to plan out venue spaces. In addition, geometry creates a foundation for more mathematical learning and developing spatial thinking. 

What Geometry Skills Do Students Need to Know?

Below are the Common Core and TEKs standards that relate to geometry that define what students should be able to do by the end of the school year.

Common Core Standards

Below are the CCSS standards related to teaching geometry.

1st Grade

  • Distinguish between defining attributes (e.g., triangles are closed and three-sided) versus non-defining attributes (e.g., color, orientation, overall size); build and draw shapes to possess defining attributes. (1.G.A.1)
  • Compose two-dimensional shapes (rectangles, squares, trapezoids, triangles, half-circles, and quarter-circles) or three-dimensional shapes (cubes, right rectangular prisms, right circular cones, and right circular cylinders) to create a composite shape, and compose new shapes from the composite shape. (1.G.A.2)

2nd Grade

  • Recognize and draw shapes having specified attributes, such as a given number of angles or a given number of equal faces. Identify triangles, quadrilaterals, pentagons, hexagons, and cubes. (2.G.A.1)

3rd Grade

  • 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. (3.G.A.1)

4th Grade

  • Generate a number or shape pattern that follows a given rule. Identify apparent features of the pattern that were not explicit in the rule itself. For example, given the rule “Add 3” and the starting number 1, generate terms in the resulting sequence and observe that the terms appear to alternate between odd and even numbers. Explain informally why the numbers will continue to alternate in this way. (4.OA.C.5)
  • Recognize angles as geometric shapes that are formed wherever two rays share a common endpoint, and understand concepts of angle measurement: (4.MD.C.5)
  • Draw points, lines, line segments, rays, angles (right, acute, obtuse), and perpendicular and parallel lines. Identify these in two-dimensional figures. (4.G.A.1)
  • Classify two-dimensional figures based on the presence or absence of parallel or perpendicular lines, or the presence or absence of angles of a specified size. Recognize right triangles as a category, and identify right triangles. (4.G.A.2)

5th Grade

  • Understand that attributes belonging to a category of two-dimensional figures also belong to all subcategories of that category. For example, all rectangles have four right angles and squares are rectangles, so all squares have four right angles. (5.G.B.3)
  • Classify two-dimensional figures in a hierarchy based on properties. (5.G.B.4)


Below are the TEKS standards related to teaching geometry.

1st Grade

  • Classify and sort regular and irregular two-dimensional shapes based on attributes. (1.6A)
  • Distinguish between attributes that define a 2D or 3D figure and attributes that don’t. (1.6B)
  • Create two-dimensional figures (circles, triangles, rectangles, and squares, rhombuses, and hexagons). (1.6C)
  • Identify two-dimensional shapes, including circles, triangles, rectangles, and squares, as special rectangles, rhombuses, and hexagons and describe their attributes using formal geometric language. (1.6D)
  • Identify three-dimensional solids (spheres, cones, cylinders, rectangular prisms (including cubes), and triangular prisms) and describe their attributes using formal geometric language. (1.6E)
  • Compose two-dimensional shapes by joining two, three, or four figures to produce a target shape in more than one way. (1.6F)

2nd Grade

  • Create two-dimensional shapes based on given attributes, including number of sides and vertices. (2.8A)
  • Classify and sort polygons with 12 or fewer sides according to attributes, including identifying the number of sides and number of vertices. (2.8C)
  • Classify and sort three-dimensional solids, including spheres, cones, cylinders, rectangular prisms (including cubes as special rectangular prisms), and triangular prisms, based on attributes using formal geometric language. (2.8B)
  • Compose two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional solids with given properties or attributes. (2.8D)
  • Decompose two-dimensional shapes such as cutting out a square from a rectangle, dividing a shape in half, or partitioning a rectangle into identical triangles and identify the resulting geometric parts (2.8E)

3rd Grade

  • Use attributes to recognize rhombuses, parallelograms, trapezoids, rectangles, and squares as examples of quadrilaterals and draw examples of quadrilaterals that do not belong to any of these subcategories. (3.6B)
  • Classify and sort two- and three-dimensional figures, including cones, cylinders, spheres, triangular and rectangular prisms, and cubes, based on attributes using formal geometric language. (3.6A)

4th Grade

  • classify two-dimensional figures based on the presence or absence of parallel or perpendicular lines or the presence or absence of angles of a specified size. (4.6.D)
  • identify points, lines, line segments, rays, angles, and perpendicular and parallel lines; (4.6.A)
  • apply knowledge of right angles to identify acute, right, and obtuse triangles; and (4.6.C)

5th Grade

  • classify two-dimensional figures in a hierarchy of sets and subsets using graphic organizers based on their attributes and properties. (5.5.A)

5 Tips for Teaching Geometry 

Below are 5 helpful tips for teaching geometry to elementary students.

1. Read Aloud Picture Books for Teaching Geometry

Reading aloud picture books is a great way to integrate literacy into your math block and present information in a different way. Our favorite picture books for teaching geometry are Icky Bug Shapes by Jerry Pallota, Captain Invincible and the Space Shapes by Stuart J. Murphy and Shape Up! Fun with Triangles and Other Polygons by David A. Adler. Check out the full list of math picture books we recommend!

2. Offer Hands On Learning Experiences

Hands-on math experiences help students make connections, remember their learning, and develop a deep conceptual understanding of the content. You can make any lesson interactive and engaging by offering math manipulatives. Our favorite math manipulatives for teaching geometry are geometric shapes, pattern blocks, geoboards, rulers and tangrams. 

Teaching math vocabulary is essential for all students, but it is especially beneficial for students who speak English as a second language and students with learning differences. Key vocabulary terms for geometry are geometry, compose, two-dimensional shape, three-dimensional shape, composite shape, attribute, non-defining attribute, defining attribute, regular, irregular, figure, shape, target shape, color, orientation, size, special rectangle, rectangle, square, circle, triangle, rhombus, hexagon, trapezoid, triangle, half-circle, quarter-circle, cube, right rectangular prism, right circular cone, right circular cylinder, sphere, cone, cylinder, rectangular prism, triangular prism, properties, angle, face, side, vertice, solid, polygon, quadrilateral, identical, geometric, parts, compose, decompose, classify, sort, divide, identify, partition, pentagon, category, subcategory, base, edge, vertex, parallelogram, sphere, circular cone, perpendicular, circular cylinder, points, lines, line segments, rays, angles, parallel lines, right angle, acute and obtuse. 

4. Give Students Opportunities to Apply Geometry to the Real World

Learning becomes more meaningful when students understand how it connects to the real world. Students are more engaged and invested in their learning. Some examples of ways we use geometry in the real world are drafting plans to design a room as an interior designer, creating a painting as a painter and lining a football field as a field maintenance provider. Project based learning and word problems are examples of opportunities for students to apply their learning to real world situations.

5. Encourage Parent Involvement

Parent participation in math is essential because it impacts students’ attitude toward math, proficiency levels this school year, and future success in their math education. Be sure to keep communication open with families and share ways they can support their children in their math learning. Some examples of ways they can practice geometry at home are exploring geometry in nature. Encourage families to go for a walk together to identify two-dimensional shapes such as hexagons in honeycomb cells of a beehive or circles within the stump of a tree. 

In closing, we hope you found this information about teaching geometry at the elementary level helpful!

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