Super Mind


Describe, sort, classify, build, and compare two-dimensional shapes

Grade 1
Compose and decompose common two-dimensional shapes


Educator working with 2 students at a table.


  • Set contains:
  • 32 two-dimensional shapes
  • 30 puzzle outlines that increase in difficulty
quick lesson final


Children are presented with the 32 two-dimensional shapes laid out on the table and encouraged to explore the shapes. They are then each given a puzzle outline and are invited to ll the puzzle outline using the various shapes. As the children progress through the outlines, they are challenged by more complex outlines.


  1. Spread the 32 shapes on the table, paying attention to a balanced distribution between the two children.
  2. Invite the children to explore the shapes. While they are exploring, ask them to describe the shapes in as many ways as they can – encourage them to count the sides, corners, name the shapes, and compare the shapes to everyday objects. Encourage the children to put the shapes together to form new shapes.
  3. Separate the shapes in two equal halves and place one half in front of each child. Ask the children to sort the shapes in front of them based on any category they want (colour, shape, sides, etc.).
  4. Ask each child to form a pattern. If the child is unsure, model a simple A, B pattern for them and ask them to continue it.
  5. Give each child a puzzle outline, beginning with the easier outlines (No 30 and No 31 in the Super Mind basic edition) and ask them what they think the puzzle outline looks like.
  6. Instruct the children to use whatever shapes they think will t in order to fill the puzzle outline.
  7. Encourage discussion by asking the children to explain their choices of shapes, the way the shapes t together, the challenges they experience and what strategies they use to solve any problems as well as other insights they have about filling the outline.
  8. Give the children a harder outline (No 32 and No 33 in the basic edition) and repeat steps 5-7.
  9. Continue to repeat step 8 until the puzzles become too challenging for the children.

Questions to Extend Student Thinking

  • Can you tell me what you did to fill the puzzle outline?
  • Are there another shapes you could use to fill the same space?
  • How did you know that the shapes you chose to fill the outline would work?
  • If a shape doesn’t it: When a shape won’t fit, what can you do to make it fit? Can you move the shape in any way to get it to t? If a child isn’t rotating or flipping a shape, show them how doing this can change the way a shape its into an outline and ask: Why does rotating/flipping the shape help?
  • If the shape didn’t fit and the child resolved the problem ask: When a shape didn’t fit, what did you do to solve that problem?
  • How many shapes did you use in all? How many of each shape did you use?
  • What shapes did you use the most? What shapes did you use the least? Why?
  • What do you notice about how different shapes fill the same space?

Look Fors

  • Does the child know the names and properties of the different shapes? Can he or she differentiate one shape from the other?
  • Does the child have a sense of patterning? Can he or she create a pattern out of different shapes and colours?
  • Can the child use the various shapes to correctly fill puzzle outlines? Is it done easily or with difficulty? As the difficulty of the puzzle outlines increase, does he or she have more trouble filling the space? What strategies are used to solve problems?
  • Is the child mentally rotating and flipping the 2D shapes or is a lot of trial and error needed to fill the outline?
  • Observe and note what shapes each child is choosing to fill a pattern and whether he or she is replacing some choices with different shapes (i.e. trying two triangles only to realize that a rhombus is more effective or replacing two half circles with a circle).
  • Is the child able to stay inside the lines or do the shapes cross over to the outside of the lines?
  • What struggles does the child experience? For instance, what is harder: lling bigger empty space or lining up straight sides?
  • What level is the child in terms of shape composition? Is the child at the pre-composer level: unable to combine shapes to fill a larger space; at the piece assembler level: combining shapes to fill a puzzle using trial and error but with limited ability; at the picture-maker level: combining shapes with some trial and error, flipping and rotating the shapes and trying different combinations; or finally, at the shape composer level: combining shapes with great ease, intentionally manipulating the shapes to correctly fill the space (Sarama & Clements, 2003).


Leisure Learning Products, Inc. (2000). Super Mind, Basic edition. Greenwich, CT: Leisure Learning Products, Inc. All rights reserved.

Sarama, J. & Clements, D. (2003). Building blocks of early childhood mathematics. Teaching Children mathematics, 9(8), 480-484.

Adapted from Leisure Learning Products, Inc. (2000).
Lesson by Yvette Burke