Compare three-dimensional figures based on their similarities, differences and positions. Sort three-dimensional figures based on their similarities and differences. Figures are limited to spheres, cubes, cones and cylinders.


Clarification 1: Instruction includes exploring figures in a variety of sizes and orientations.

Clarification 2: Instruction focuses on using informal language to describe relative positions and the similarities or differences between figures when comparing and sorting.

General Information
Subject Area: Mathematics (B.E.S.T.)
Grade: K
Strand: Geometric Reasoning
Status: State Board Approved

Benchmark Instructional Guide

Connecting Benchmarks/Horizontal Alignment


Terms from the K-12 Glossary

  • Cones 
  • Cubes 
  • Cylinders 
  • Spheres


Vertical Alignment

Previous Benchmarks

Next Benchmarks


Purpose and Instructional Strategies

The purpose of this benchmark is for students to build on their understanding of classification of three-dimensional figures by finding similarities and differences between shapes. 
  • Instruction focuses on sorting and classifying three-dimensional figures. 
  • Instruction includes opportunities for students to sort figures based on various criteria, such as same number of faces and figures with all flat sides (MTR.5.1). 
  • Instruction includes figures of various sizes and orientations, and may include nonstandard versions of figures as well (MTR.2.1). 
  • Relative position refers to students identifying left/right, in front of/behind, apart and above/below when comparing shapes.


Common Misconceptions or Errors

  • Students may sort figures separately because of orientation and size rather than the identified attributes of the figures. 
  • Students may inaccurately name and sort three-dimensional figures based on the names of their two-dimensional faces.


Strategies to Support Tiered Instruction

  • Teacher provides solid shapes (cones, cylinders, cubes, and spheres) for students to sort. 
    • For example, instruction includes sorting shapes by how they are same or by how they are different. The teacher asks follow up questions such as, “How did you decide to sort the shapes? How many sides does this group have?” 

  • Teacher provides the following solid figures in multiple sizes: cubes, cylinders, cones, spheres. Shapes are scattered in the workspace. Students work to match the cubes with the cubes, the cylinders with the cylinders, etc., until all shapes are grouped. The focus is on students being able to identify shapes when they are oriented differently (i.e., not sitting flat on one side). 
  • Teacher constructs a Mystery Box where they position one solid figure out of sight of students. Display some shapes on top of the box. Students put a single hand into the box to feel the shape and then point to the matching shapes on display. To begin, let the student see the shapes when feeling the attributes. Then hide the shape on subsequent turns.

solid shapes in a mystery box


Instructional Tasks

Instructional Task 1 (MTR.2.1, MTR.4.1

Using the figures below, create sorting cards for students. Provide each student in a group with their own set of figures to sort. Ask each student to sort the figures in any way they choose. Once students have sorted their figures, give each student time to share about their choices, and explain how they sorted their figures (by shape, straight sides and circles, filled and not filled or number of faces). Once students have shared, ask them to sort their figures in a new way. Give time for sorting and sharing again. Repeat the task as needed.

black and white solid shapes


Instructional Items

Instructional Item 1 

In what ways are the figures similar? In what ways are they different? Circle the cone. Draw a square around the cylinder. 

cone and can


*The strategies, tasks and items included in the B1G-M are examples and should not be considered comprehensive

Related Courses

This benchmark is part of these courses.
5012020: Grade Kindergarten Mathematics (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
7712015: Access Mathematics - Grade Kindergarten (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2018, 2018 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))
5012005: Foundational Skills in Mathematics K-2 (Specifically in versions: 2019 - 2022, 2022 and beyond (current))

Related Access Points

Alternate version of this benchmark for students with significant cognitive disabilities.
MA.K.GR.1.AP.3a: Sort three-dimensional figures based on their similarities. Figures are limited to spheres, cubes, cones and cylinders.
MA.K.GR.1.AP.3b: Use informal spatial language to describe the relative positions of three-dimensional figures (e.g., above, below, beside, next to, under).

Related Resources

Vetted resources educators can use to teach the concepts and skills in this benchmark.

Formative Assessment

Where is the Sphere?:

Students describe the position of a sphere in relationship to other objects.

Type: Formative Assessment

Lesson Plans

Must or Might: Exploring Defining Attributes of 3-D Figures:

The purpose of this lesson is for students to examine defining and non-defining attributes of 3-dimensional figures. Students compare and contrast various representations of 3-dimensional figures (including real-world objects) to determine what the solid must have, compared to what it might have. This exploration is also supported by sorting 3-dimensional figures.

Type: Lesson Plan

Eating Shapes (Exploring 3D Shapes):

This lesson is an introduction to 3-dimensional shapes. The lessons uses food to help students explore the attributes of those shapes. Then, of course, the students get to eat them!

Type: Lesson Plan

Hide and Seek those Shapes:

In this lesson, students will discover the names of different two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes and their attributes through activities such as playing "Hide and Seek" with shapes and playing "Hot and Cold" to find shapes in the classroom.

Type: Lesson Plan

Shape Up!:

In this lesson students will compare two-dimensional shapes to other two- dimensional shapes (circle, square, triangle, and rectangle) and three-dimensional shapes to other three-dimensional shapes (cone, cylinder, sphere, cube) by differentiating them according to attributes. Students describe attributes of shapes by exploring real world objects.

Type: Lesson Plan

Shape Hunt:

Students will go on a shape hunt in the classroom or designated area. During the shape hunt, students will find real-world objects that can be modeled by two- and three-dimensional figures. After the shape hunt, students will use Timed-Pair-Share to explain to peers what objects they found and their relative positions.

Type: Lesson Plan

MFAS Formative Assessments

Where is the Sphere?:

Students describe the position of a sphere in relationship to other objects.

Student Resources

Vetted resources students can use to learn the concepts and skills in this benchmark.

Parent Resources

Vetted resources caregivers can use to help students learn the concepts and skills in this benchmark.