Secret Shape Code

Spatial Reasoning Skills

  • Mapping
  • Location
  • Orientation
  • Perspective Taking

Curriculum – Geometry and Spatial Sense

  • Relating shapes to other shapes 
  • Describing relative locations and paths of motion 
  • Describing movement on a grid map
  • Recognizing transformations


The purpose of this lesson is to guide children through the development of their abilities to describe location and orientation relative to other objects and frames. This activity is designed to strengthen their spatial reasoning skills through communication. Students will work in pairs to place shapes on a grid and describe these to their partner.


  • Set of paper shapes (hearts, arrows, etc.; template available) 
  • Construction paper folded into a 2×3 grid with 6 equal regions 
  • Barrier (file folder, cardboard box lid, big book)


  • Facilitate a discussion with students, consider the following prompts:
    • How can we provide directions? Consider terminologies such as: left and right; west and east; up and down; north and south; above and below.
    • How else can you describe the location and the orientation of your shape?


  • Have students work in pairs
  • Behind a barrier, one student makes a secret code using 6 shapes on their grid (one shape in each region) in any orientation.
  • This same student describes the code—the location and orientation of each shape in the code—to their partner who cannot see it, while the partner re-creates the shape code
  • Once finished, the two students compare their codes to see if they match
  • Encourage students to place individual shapes in unusual orientations (upside-down heart, arrow pointing to corner, etc.)
  • Students switch roles.


  • Gather students together and engage in conversation, consider the following prompts: 
    • Were you able to create your partner’s secret code? 
    • How did you describe your secret code to your partner?