4th Grade Honors Math

Dear Families,

Welcome to the Project M3 unit, Getting Into Shapes. Our class is looking forward to exploring two- and three-dimensional shapes. In order to determine the properties of different two-dimensional shapes such as squares, parallelograms and trapezoids, students will study examples and non-examples of the shapes. From this investigation students discover the properties of the shapes and create their own definitions. In this way, students understand the mathematical language and meaning of the definition, rather than just memorizing a definition they see in print. They will learn about the hierarchy in the ordering of shapes and how shapes are interrelated with the activities, “Three of These Things Belong Together” and “Some, All, or None.” They play an engaging card game called “Triple Play” in which they make sets of three shapes based on common characteristics. They will be comparing different quadrilaterals and sorting them into different categories in order to earn the most points possible. They are constantly trying out strategies, seeing if they work, and then revising to get a set that will give them the most points. In fact, they are working just like mathematicians.

Students also get an opportunity to study three-dimensional shapes and see their abundance in the world around them. They will engage their whole family in the scavenger hunt, “The Hunt for Shapes in My World.” We hope you have fun and will be amazed at the beauty of geometry that surrounds you on a daily basis. We will then explore the relationship among two- and three-dimensional shapes as we examine cross sections of 3-D objects.

Students will also have many opportunities to develop spatial visualization skills as we work with moving shapes in space. We encourage students to make mental images of the path and motion the shape makes as it changes its location. Mental imaging is an important step in building short-term visual memory. They will move shapes across and over rectangular grids and use dot paper to draw three-dimensional shapes. All these investigations develop spatial visualization, a skill used in many careers including engineering and computer graphics and in everyday activities such as driving and playing sports.

At the heart of all Project M3 investigations are problem solving, reasoning, and creative thinking. When students use these mathematical practices, they think and act like mathematicians. This helps them gain a deep understanding of the mathematics and develops their mathematical talent.

I hope your child enjoys exploring this unit and the mathematical challenges it poses. I invite you to share in the discoveries your child makes by engaging in conversation around the family dinner table. You may even learn something new about the world of shapes from your young mathematician!


Mrs. McGee