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What can we learn about shapes from buildings?

The Greyhound Hotel was built as a fine town house in 1778. It is just one example of a building that could be used to help pupils learn about different shapes.

Photograph of the Greyhound Hotel in Cromford Derbyshire.
Photograph of the Greyhound Hotel in Cromford Derbyshire © Crown copyright. Historic England Archive. Ref: AA039342

Teaching idea

Can we learn about shapes by looking at a building? Use the photograph above either printed out, or ideally on your whiteboard, as the focus for a lesson on shapes. Look at the picture as a class and encourage pupils to pick out/highlight the different shapes of the windows, roof and decorations. Ask pupils to draw and name each of the shapes they have identified. Pupils could then use the shapes identified to design a 'new' building. There is a pre-designed PowerPoint activity above to help them do this.

Learning aims and outcomes

  • Identify differences in shapes, patterns and decoration in buildings and relate these to the purpose of the building
  • Ask the children to look for shapes and patterns in a building and think about why they were chosen
  • List words about the shape, pattern and decoration of buildings

Prior knowledge

  • For Year 1 pupils a knowledge of basic shapes would be helpful

Extended learning and useful links

  • The activity could be taken further to consider what different materials the building is made of
  • The activity could be used before taking pupils out to look at local buildings or the school and repeating the activity 'in the field'
  • Pupils could be asked to think about why the building was built like this - why did they need so many windows in the past, when the house was built?
  • Pupils could use a digital camera to photograph different shapes on local buildings and then use them to create a collage of a 'new' building
  • Discuss which shapes are used where and for what purpose

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