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What shape is this?

About this lesson

Students will explore the school grounds searching for water related objects and draw the shapes they represent.

Year level: 1, 2

Theme: Stormwater and waterways

Learning objectives

Students can:
  • recognise water objects and the 2D/3D shapes they are made up of
  • describe and draw shapes
  • count the corners, edges and faces of 3D shapes.

Curriculum links


  • Recognise and classify familiar 2-dimensional shapes and 3-dimensional objects using obvious features ACMMG022
  • Describe and draw 2-dimensional shapes, with and without digital technologies ACMMG042
  • Describe the features of 3-dimensional objects ACMMG043

Things you will need

  • Selection of 3D shapes (for the teacher)
  • Paper and pencils to take around school
  • Drawing paper and coloured pencils
  • 2D and 3D shapes (for each group)

Lesson description


  • Explain to students they will walk around the school and look for objects related to water (e.g. drain, roof, hose, tap). Objects may have a combination of 2D and 3D shapes.
  • Brainstorm the objects students might find and the shapes they may be made of and draw up on the board.
  • Explore the school grounds with students and have them record the water objects/structures seen and their shapes.
  • Return to class and review student findings with their predictions. Write names of water objects on the board.
  • Ask questions such as:
    • Why do certain objects like downpipes have these shapes?
    • Why are outside grilles shaped like this?
    • Why does a roof have this shape? (To catch water and direct it to storm water drains, to keep buildings/roads/pathways dry, to stop flooding etc.)
  • Using the 3D shapes, model counting the edges, corners and faces of each shape.
  • Have a student count the edges/corners/faces of a shape to check understanding.


  • Break up students into groups and place 2D and 3D shapes at their table.
  • Have students draw the shapes they found around the school and name a water object associated with each shape.
  • Have students count the edges, corners and faces of each shape and record these on their page.

Reflect & summarise

  • Review the shapes the students discovered today. Water objects are shaped like this for a reason - use an example to reiterate this point.
  • Ask students were there any shapes they had never seen or heard of before?

Extension activities

  • Make 3D shape nets.
  • Discuss what storm water is and where it goes.

Teacher background information

What is storm water?

Storm water is rainwater collected in drains, gutters, soak wells, open channels and underground pipes and conveyed, through drainage systems, to local water bodies and compensating basins.

Storm water is not treated. It is different to wastewater, which comes from drains in the laundry, kitchen, bathroom and toilet. This water is transported through pipes to a wastewater treatment plant or may feed into a septic tank.

What is a drainage system?

Drainage systems prevent flooding of developed land from surface run-off and from rising groundwater levels in low-lying areas.

2D & 3D shapes defined

2D shapes – have length and breadth. They have area, but no depth.
3D shapes – have length, breadth and depth. All 3D shapes are solids.

Examples of shapes found in water objects

  • Gutters can be made up of circles, rectangles (2D) or cylinders and cuboids/rectangular prisms (3D).
  • A roof could be made up of rectangles and triangles (2D) or triangular prisms (3D).


3D shapes sort game

Did you know?

When not confined by a container and with nothing around it to distort its shape, a very tiny water drop is a perfect sphere, like a ball.

Key vocabulary

  • Drain: An above or below ground channel or pipe that conveys stormwater to a natural body of water
  • Gutter: A channel at a roadside or under the eaves of a building for diversion of water
  • Pipe: A single length of tube, usually circular in cross section, used for conveying liquid
  • Road gully: A grated or side entry pit that directs water from the road and into a drainage system (often referred to as a grille)
  • Runoff: Excess matter that moves quickly and falls off an apparatus
  • Stormwater: Surface water caused by rain