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Stop! It’s an Octagon!
What is an octagon? An octagon is a polygon with eight sides. A polygon is a closed plane figure made up of 3 or more line segments. An octagon can be configured in several different ways as long as it has eight sides. For preschool, learning about the “regular" octagon in which all sides are the same length, is a preferred way.
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The Prefix "Octo"
Begin by putting a picture of an octopus on the board. Ask children what it is. Write the word octopus. Ask children what they know about an octopus and most likely they will quickly say that it has eight legs. Now write the word octagon on the board saying, “This word starts the same way. It is the name of a shape. We know that a square has four sides. Can you guess what might be special about this shape?" Lead them to decide that it must have eight sides. Show them a plain picture of an octagon. Does it seem familiar to them? Yes, it is the same shape as a stop sign!
There are other common items that can be in the shape of an octagon: clocks, picnic tables, windows, plates and more.
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To review shapes that you have already introduced, ask students to lie on the carpet and position themselves to form a shape. For example, four students can make a square. Then ask eight students to form an octagon. Make it a game by having the remaining students shout out what shape has been formed.
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Use the worksheet of the octagon to trace each number. Then use safety scissors to cut along the bold lines to cut out the octagon.
Send a brief note home asking parents to help the children find things that are in an octagon shape. Then the parent can write the names of the items down on the octagon shaped cut out that the students did.
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Reinforce with a Game
Use construction paper to cut out shapes that you have studied like: circle, triangle, oval, square, rectangle, octagon and any others. Cut out two or three of each shape for a variety and prepare enough so that each student has a shape.
“Follow the Directions" game:
Say things like:
Circles jump up and down.
Squares count to ten.
Triangles trade places with each other.
Octagons clap you hands.
Rectangles hop to the front of the classroom.
Ovals shake hands.
Circles turn around two times.
Everyone switch shapes!
PBS Kids has several online games to learn shapes and the games feature many familiar characters like Curious George and others.
“I Spy Shapes" is on a website called Story Place. It takes about two minutes to load and then the child controls the mouse to find as many of the designated shapes in a picture as possible.
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Books to Include
The Shapes We Eat by Simone T. Ribke shows foods that come in different shapes. The book actually includes two pieces of pentagon shaped pineapple that are put together to form an octagon.
Red, Yellow, Green: What Do Signs Mean? by Joan Holub
In a unit about preschool shapes, octagon needs to be included. As you search for them in your surroundings there are more octagons than you think. Just STOP and look around!