Shape Concepts: Year 5

There’s plenty to be covered in Year 5 when it comes to shape, position and measuring angle.

Firstly, Vocabulary connected to shape:
Children should be able to use, read and write the following words:

pattern, shape, 2-D, two-dimensional, 3-D, three dimensional, line, side, edge, face, surface, base, point, angle, vertex, vertices, centre, radius, diameter, net, make, build, construct, draw, sketch, curved, straight, regular, irregular, concave, convex, closed, open, circular, triangular, hexagonal, cylindrical, spherical, square-based, right-angled, congruent.

They should be able to name, classify and describe the following 2-D and 3-D shapes:

circle, semi-circle, triangle, equilateral triangle, isosceles triangle, scalene triangle, quadrilateral, rectangle, oblong, square, pentagon, hexagon, heptagon, octagon, polygon, cube, cuboid, pyramid, sphere, hemisphere, cylinder, cone, prism, tetrahedron, octahedron, polyhedron.

It is essential that children understand all the work in the preceding year groups before attempting new work. Use of the correct vocabulary cannot be over-emphasised and this should be practised and applied correctly at every stage.

Children should understand the meaning of the word ‘congruent’. We use this word when two or more shapes are identical in every way including size.

Classifying shapes continues, but with more sophistication. Children should now be able to classify 3-D shapes according to the number of faces, edges and vertices, the shape of each face, whether or not any face is right-angled, and whether or not the number of edges meeting at each vertex is the same or different .

They should be able to classify 2-D shapes according to the number of right angles, whether opposite sides are equal and parallel and whether the diagonals bisect one another (cut each other in half, as in a right angle).

They should also be familiar with the properties of many shapes such as equilateral and scalene triangles.

Children should be able to construct 3-D models and draw 2-D shapes more accurately than previously.  They will need practice and some help in constructing 3-D shapes and particularly with how and where to position the flaps for joining the edges together when shapes are made from paper or card.

By now children should be able to design simple nets themselves and assemble these (and more complex nets provided) quite accurately.

Where possible, it is worth purchasing good quality card and, after practising the construction of a 3-D shape in paper, allowing children to use the card. This encourages a pride in their work and gives the opportunities for shapes to be used as useful items (desk tidy, pencil holder, calendar etc).

As a practical tip, finished shapes look much better if they are provided with flaps that are glued and not assembled with sticky tape. Patience is needed with gluing, but the result is a much better product!

Children should be familiar with the following words and should be able to use, read and write them:

position, direction, ascend, descend, journey, route, map, plan, grid, row, column, origin, x-axis, y-axis, quadrant, co-ordinates, compass, point, north, south, east, west, north-east, north-west, south-east, south-west, horizontal, vertical, diagonal, parallelogram, perpendicular.

Although it is an unbreakable rule that in a pair of co-ordinates the first number refers to the horizontal distance from the origin and the second number refers to the vertical distance from the origin, this is not the case when we name the axes. We can call the axes whatever we like and, in fact, we call them many things (x, y, p, , time, exchange rate, temperature etc).

However, when no particular application is under discussion and we are merely talking about the relationship between two sets of numbers (one on each axis), it is usual to call them the x-axis and the y-axis. In this case, the  x-axis is normally the horizontal one and the y-axis is the vertical one, and at this age it is probably best to stick to this convention.

Children should continue to plot and read co-ordinates and look for simple relationships between them. They should be able to plot a set of co-ordinates that give a polygon and name the polygon. They should be able to work out the missing set of co-ordinates for a simple find ambien online shape such as a square or a rectangle.

N.B. When drawing polygons the shape should be completed by returning to the first point given.

Children should know the words ‘parallel’ and ‘perpendicular’ and their meanings. Two or more lines are parallel if they are always the same distance apart. They are perpendicular if they are at right angles.
Children should be able to spot parallel and perpendicular lines in their environment and in known shapes such as rectangles and regular octagons.

They should also know the meaning of the word ‘diagonal’ and be able to draw diagonals in polygons.


Children should know and be able to read, write and use the following words:

Mirror line,  line of symmetry,  line symmetry,  symmetrical,  reflect,
reflection,  translation, axis of symmetry, reflective symmetry.

Children should be able to draw lines of symmetry on regular polygons and know that the number of lines of symmetry on a regular polygon is equal to the number of sides. Eg a regular hexagon has six sides and six lines of symmetry.

They should be able to test for symmetry using a mirror and by folding.

Children should be able to sketch the reflection of a simple shape in a mirror line where some of the edges of the shape are not parallel nor perpendicular to the mirror line.

They should be able to complete a pattern using reflections in two mirror lines at right angles to each other.

They should understand the concept of a translation (a simple slide) and be able to draw a shape after it has been translated on a set of co-ordinates.

They should be able to translate a simple shape and its reflection along a line to make a pattern.


Children should be able to use, read and write the following vocabulary:

Turn, rotate, whole turn, half turn, quarter turn, angle, right angle, acute, obtuse, straight line, degree, ruler, set square, angle measurer, protractor.

The most important thing that children should understand about angles is that they are a measure of turn.

Patterns can be made by rotating shapes such as set-squares. As this is done emphasis should be given to the fact that this involves rotation. If a whole number of angles complete

one rotation (six 600 angles of a set-square, for instance, it should be understood that this makes one whole rotation or 3600).

Children should know the meaning of acute and obtuse as well as right angle, and should be able to differentiate between the three types by observation. They should be becoming better at estimating angles, although this is difficult even for adults. Allow good margins of error when estimating, at least 50.

They should be able to spot acute and obtuse angles in the classroom/home. If you live in a very right angled environment, it is possible to create some acute and obtuse angles in advance (doors and windows opening, the lid of a CD case opening, a book on display with some pages visible, an open folder, clocks, displays of some letters of the alphabet such as V or X, for example).

Children should be able to measure angles using a protractor to within 50. A protractor is a difficult instrument to use because (i) it measures rotation, not the length of the arms of the angle (ii) it has two scales going in opposite directions (iii) it has extra plastic below the zero line to protect the useful part, but this often obscures the zero line (iv) children do not always appreciate that it has a zero line that must be placed on one of the sides of the angle and (v) one needs to be quite dextrous to align the zero line with one side, whilst placing the ‘centre’ of the protractor on the vertex of the angle. Children should therefore be given much practice in its use and much patience needs to be shown by the teacher/parent.

Lastly, children should be able to calculate the value of a second angle on a straight line, if the first is given.

Further details about Shape in Year 5

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