Reflections and Resources from Tarheelstate Teacher: Mastering Geometry Vocabulary with Games & Activities
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Mastering Geometry Vocabulary with Games & Activities

GEOMETRY...it might just be my second favorite unit to teach in math, {second to my love of fractions, of course!} That's why today's post focuses on geometry vocabulary

Need some ideas for making mastering geometry vocabulary more fun? Check out four games I play with my students! Flash cards and study ideas included! Your 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classroom or home school students are going to LOVE the different activities they can play, and you're going to love that the games teach necessary geometric skills. Great for test prep, review, and much more {third, fourth, fifth, sixth graders - math stations or centers}

 I always save my geometry unit for 4th quarter. This is the time of the year when we are getting deep into review for our End of Grade Tests and I've always felt like geometry is the perfect way to keep it light while trying to review so many of the "hard" things we have learned in math throughout the year. Geometry lessons and games seem to keep my students engaged, happy, and having fun in math while also getting prepped for the "big test."

While geometry can be light and fun, the vocabulary understanding needed to fully master geometry is huge! So, a lot of our geometry work focuses on learning and using the vocabulary of the discipline.

How do I spice up our geometry vocabulary work? With lots of games and activities to allow students many exposures to the vocabulary words, of course!

One of the most important resources I use in my geometry unit is a set of Geometry Vocabulary Cards. Students use these cards in so many ways to study the important vocabulary that is critical to understanding and mastering geometry concepts.

Geometry Vocabulary Cards 

Need some ideas for making mastering geometry vocabulary more fun? Check out four games I play with my students! Flash cards and study ideas included! Your 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classroom or home school students are going to LOVE the different activities they can play, and you're going to love that the games teach necessary geometric skills. Great for test prep, review, and much more {third, fourth, fifth, sixth graders - math stations or centers}My vocabulary card set includes 41 geometry words that are introduced to students in 3rd grade and up. For each term, I've included a card for the word, a pictorial representation, and a definition (for a total of 123 cards). I made twelve sets of these cards printed on cardstock for group and partner games. (I used lots of colors of cardstock in hopes that lost cards could easily find their way back to their home.)

This year, I also wanted students to have their own set of cards to take home, so I printed sets of cards for students on colored paper. {I used different colors for each type of word--green for words that describe lines, orange for polygons, and symmetry and transformations on pink. If you grab my set of cards, note that for student cards, I printed them 2-sheets to a page to get the size you see in the picture.}

Need some ideas for making mastering geometry vocabulary more fun? Check out four games I play with my students! Flash cards and study ideas included! Your 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classroom or home school students are going to LOVE the different activities they can play, and you're going to love that the games teach necessary geometric skills. Great for test prep, review, and much more {third, fourth, fifth, sixth graders - math stations or centers}
To help students use their set as a study tool, I had them keep the three parts for each term intact in strips. It took my 5th graders a good 30 minutes of class time to cut apart their whole set of words. {Lesson learned! With future groups, I think I will give them a few sheets at a time based on what I am about to introduce in our geometry lessons and have them add cards to their set gradually--especially for my 4th graders}.

To use the cards, I have students fold the vocabulary word inward so that when they flip the card, they can see the picture and the definition. Then, they can try to recall the term and check their answer. Once students have mastered the words in this way, I have them fold the definition inward and see how accurately they can define the vocabulary terms.

Need some ideas for making mastering geometry vocabulary more fun? Check out four games I play with my students! Flash cards and study ideas included! Your 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classroom or home school students are going to LOVE the different activities they can play, and you're going to love that the games teach necessary geometric skills. Great for test prep, review, and much more {third, fourth, fifth, sixth graders - math stations or centers}

Need some ideas for making mastering geometry vocabulary more fun? Check out four games I play with my students! Flash cards and study ideas included! Your 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classroom or home school students are going to LOVE the different activities they can play, and you're going to love that the games teach necessary geometric skills. Great for test prep, review, and much more {third, fourth, fifth, sixth graders - math stations or centers}

Ideas for Pre-Assessing Vocabulary Knowledge

On the first day of my geometry unit, I like to pre-assess my students' geometry vocabulary knowledge. I love to use the word-knowledge continuum of "I've never heard this word before," "I've heard this word but can't remember what it means," and "I can give a definition and picture for this word" to have students pre-assess themselves. Sometimes I play four corners to pre-assess my science or math vocabulary and add in "I can explain this word in one way" as the third level of knowledge. The highest level of word knowledge is that you can teach it to someone else, of course.

Once students' vocabulary strips are prepared, I have them use the Vocabulary Knowledge Sort Mat to place their words into categories based on their comfort level with the word. I think pre-assessment of vocabulary like this really primes students' brains to be paying attention and fine-tuning their vocab knowledge during the unit.

A paper version of the same sort is another option. I used the card sorting and the paper version this year so that I would have a written record of students' pre-unit word knowledge.

Ultimate Geometry Vocabulary Team Challenge

After pre-asessing, it's time to play some games! My most favorite way to use my geometry vocabulary cards is with the ULTIMATE Geometry Vocabulary Team Challenge! I create mixed ability groups of 3-4 students. Teams race to see who can match the most vocabulary terms in a set amount of time (usually 15-20 minutes works).

I LOVE to hold this challenge during the 1st or 2nd day of my geometry unit. I listen carefully as students share what they remember about Geometry. I can get a pretty good sense of what words are completely new to my group of students and which terms they have pretty much mastered.
Need some ideas for making mastering geometry vocabulary more fun? Check out four games I play with my students! Flash cards and study ideas included! Your 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classroom or home school students are going to LOVE the different activities they can play, and you're going to love that the games teach necessary geometric skills. Great for test prep, review, and much more {third, fourth, fifth, sixth graders - math stations or centers}

To play the challenge, I teach students to lay cards out in consistent, organized columns as this helps my brain as I'm going around to check their matches. Teams need a few desks or a long table to have enough space to lay out all of their cards.

When I first introduce the Geometry Vocabulary Challenge, I don't identify specific mistakes, but let students know that I see some errors and encourage them to work together to check their matches and make changes. Groups that discuss the words as they are creating matches do really well. Groups that work independently (although this sounds like an efficient strategy) tend to make lots of errors and argue--mainly because they are not using their team to work together and lift up students who do not know the words as well.

I like to hold this challenge multiple times during my geometry unit so that students get multiple exposures to vocab, images, and definitions and get faster and faster at matching the terms. It gets very competitive and fun! Students can also see their growth, which is always an awesome classroom feeling!

The first time I held this challenge, my students were so intensely motivated to put all of the matches together (123 cards is a lot and this really is a CHALLENGE). I fell in love with the teamwork and motivation and have played this game with my students every year since.

Need some ideas for making mastering geometry vocabulary more fun? Check out four games I play with my students! Flash cards and study ideas included! Your 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classroom or home school students are going to LOVE the different activities they can play, and you're going to love that the games teach necessary geometric skills. Great for test prep, review, and much more {third, fourth, fifth, sixth graders - math stations or centers}

Go Fish

Another way I like to use Geometry Vocabulary Cards is with a traditional game of "Go Fish." After students have had some exposure to the cards and the vocabulary and participated in a few challenges, this is the perfect way to have individual students sharpen their word knowledge a little more.

You can vary "Go Fish" depending on students' comfort level with the words, pictures, and definitions by assigning students different ways to play. Students who are still low in word knowledge can take the definitions out of the deck and match pictures and words. Students who have a better grasp on the definitions can play to match the pictures and definitions.

Sometimes I've had students try to play with all three cards and it works pretty well. If a student has the definition of rectangle, they will ask "Do you have a rectangle?" The other student can offer the picture or the word. Then, when the third card comes up later, the student who owns the matches can add it to their matches or the opponent could add it to their own matched cards for a bonus point.

"Go Fish" with geometry vocabulary gets a little tricky as students ask for what they think they need, the opponent may give them a card that is not correct. Students should be a final check for one another and correct any wrong matches. If students keep a little scoreboard, students can get extra points for their opponent having incorrect answers. (This might be another level of difficulty to add in after students have had more exposure and really should be getting their matches correct.) You can also rotate the room as students play "Go Fish" and check the matches they have made.

Need some ideas for making mastering geometry vocabulary more fun? Check out four games I play with my students! Flash cards and study ideas included! Your 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classroom or home school students are going to LOVE the different activities they can play, and you're going to love that the games teach necessary geometric skills. Great for test prep, review, and much more {third, fourth, fifth, sixth graders - math stations or centers}

Geometry Swipe


Geometry Swipe is a variation of the Ultimate Team Challenge. I give students a Geometry Swipe Board/Chart. The board has the categories for the cards--word, picture, definition. To play, students set up all of the cards as a draw pile. One student chooses a card and lays it under either WORD, PICTURE, or DEFINITION.

Next, the opponent does the same, but decides if the card is for a new vocabulary word or if the card goes with any cards already laid on the game board. Play continues until one player picks a card that completes a set (perhaps the RHOMBUS vocabulary word and picture are on the game board and the student picks up the definition). The player calls GEOMETRY SWIPE and picks up the three cards in that row. Now the student has 3 points and game the continues. I've also differentiated this game with game boards that only have students matching the word and the picture OR the word and definition.

Traditional Memory/Match

One additional way I've found to use these cards is by playing memory. Students turn all cards face down (again, you can decide if they play with terms, definitions, and pictures or a variation). Students take turns trying to make vocabulary matches. If all three types of cards are included, students can make a match by matching two of the three cards, and then add the third card to the set when it is found later in the game.

My geometry unit with my 5th graders is wrapping up this week, but my 4th graders just started their geometry unit, so I get to have more fun with our geometry vocabulary! Did you find a game you can use here in your classroom? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments! 

If you want to pick up your ready-to-go geometry vocabulary cards, you can find them in my store!

Need some ideas for making mastering geometry vocabulary more fun? Check out four games I play with my students! Flash cards and study ideas included! Your 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classroom or home school students are going to LOVE the different activities they can play, and you're going to love that the games teach necessary geometric skills. Great for test prep, review, and much more {third, fourth, fifth, sixth graders - math stations or centers}

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