Shapes Shake-Up Game

by Gareth Brown on 2012/04/23

This shape game focuses on two dimensional shapes or polygons. Children need to roll the die to collect sticks (sides) they use the sticks to create completed shapes out of. It’s for younger students in early years and grades 1-2. It can be played with toothpicks, match sticks or popsicle sticks, anything similar to these things really! It’s a great problem solving game which is not too competitive for younger students. There are many opportunities for discussions within the group and the game can be modified to add a different focus or to demonstrate particular shapes.

The game Blending Word Blender that is mentioned in the video can also be found on this site.


Learning Outcomes:

  • Two dimensional shapes
  • Polygons


Required Material

  • Toothpicks, match sticks or popsicle sticks
  • A six sided die
  • A small group of players 2 – 6


Aim of the Game:

  • To use all of the sticks you have collected to make shapes with them.


How to Play:

  1. A group of 2 – 6 students each start with no sticks and take it in turns to roll the die. Have a container of sticks in the middle of the table.
  2. Players need to decide when they will finish the game. The game could just go for a certain amount of time or until players have reached a certain goal. (It could be first to reach 4 whole shapes, a specific set of shapes like 3 squares and a hexagon or the first to create a decagon).
  3. When a player rolls the die they pick up that number of sticks. (If a 4 is rolled the player picks up 4 sticks).
  4. The player adds the sticks to their total amount of collected sticks.
  5. Each player must always have all of their total collected sticks made up into completed shapes. (If a player has 7 sticks they could have a square and a triangle or a single heptagon). There should be no left over sticks unless it is at the very beginning of the game and a player has only one or two sticks.
  6. Once a shape has been made it can be disassembled to build another shape is necessary. (If a player has a triangle and rolls a one to only get one stick, the player can disassemble the triangle, add the new side and create a square).
  7. The game is played until time has run out or a goal has been reached.



If the class is learning about a particular shape such as a triangle then the focus of the game could be to create triangles. A goal could be set that at each point in the game the players have to use all of their sticks (sides) to make completed shapes but that as many of those shapes as possible need to be triangles. For a game that encourages teamwork and communication the goal of the game could be for everyone to achieve the same goal. To achieve that goal the players could help each other by giving their sticks to people who need them to complete the result. (The goal might be to each create a pentagon and a square (9 sides all up), if Anne has 10 sticks and Ben only has 8 then they could work out that Anne could give Ben one stick so they could both make a square and a pentagon). The children can be encouraged to work this out themselves and look for ways to help each other.



{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie Rust April 25, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Hey Gareth, perfect timing with this game was looking for something to finish up my unit on Shape. I am giving this a go tomorrow with my Reception class, hope I’m not being too adventurous they should be able to do it. Will let you know how it goes.


Gareth Brown April 26, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Hi Julie, I hope it goes well and I’m looking forward to the feedback.


Celeste May 10, 2012 at 10:16 am

Hello Gareth – We are reviewing shapes next week and I cannot wait to try your game with my kinder scholars. :-) Thank you for sharing this game.


Gareth Brown May 10, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Thank you Celeste, I hope your students enjoy playing the game and I’m glad you have found it useful. Have fun!


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