Slide, Flip and Turn

In this lesson, children will recognize and apply slides, flips and turns using wooden pattern blocks.

Lesson for:

(See Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.)

Content Area:


Learning Goals:

This lesson will help toddlers and preschoolers meet the following educational standards:

  • Apply transformations and use symmetry to analyze mathematical situations

Learning Targets:

After this lesson, toddlers and preschoolers should be more proficient at:

  • Recognizing and applying slides, flips and turns to shapes

Slide, Flip and Turn

Lesson plan for toddlers/preschoolers

Step 1: Gather materials.

  • Giant wooden pattern blocks
  • Tagboard sheets (one for each child)

Note: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that meet safety requirements.

Step 2: Introduce activity.

  1. Sit in a circle with the children.
  2. Say: “We are going to play a game and move our hands while we sing.”
  3. Sing (to the tune of Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush): “This is the way we slide our hands (keeping hands straight, slide to the right and then to the left, palms forward), slide our hands, slide our hands, this is the way we slide our hands, side to side.” Continue with: “This is the way we flip our hands (hold palms up then bend forward to show the back of the hand). This is the way we flip our hands, up and down.” End with: “This is the way we turn our hands (rotate your hands from side to side as if waving with a straight hand), turn our hands, turn our hands. This is the way we turn our hands, side to side.”
  1. Say: “Now we are going to play this game with some shapes!”

Step 3: Engage children in lesson activities.

  1. Cut the tagboard sheets in half. Holding the pieces horizontally, draw a black line down the middle of the board from one end to the other.
  2. Ask the children to sit in a circle.
  3. Give one piece of tagboard to each child.
  4. Give a large triangle shape (from the giant wooden pattern blocks) to each child.
  5. Ask the children to place their triangle blocks pointy-side up onto the line on the tagboard.
  6. Say: “We are going to sing our song with the triangles and have them move like our hands did.”
  7. Say: “First, we are going to slide our triangles back and forth.”
  8. Sing and demonstrate: “This is the way we slide the triangle, slide the triangle, slide the triangle, this is the way we slide the triangle, back and forth (demonstrate moving the triangle from side to side on the line, keeping the triangle on the line while sliding).
  9. Say: “Now we are going to flip our triangles!”
  10. Sing and demonstrate: “This is the way we flip our triangles, front to back.” (Continue with the song while demonstrating flipping the triangle over the line so that the point is down while you sing this verse).
  11. Say: “Now we are going to turn our triangles!”
  12. Sing and demonstrate: “This is the way we turn our triangles to move them around!” (Demonstrate turning or rotating the triangle around the line so that the point moves from facing up to facing to the side to facing down while staying flat on the tagboard as you sing this last verse.)

Step 4: Vocabulary.

  • Slide: To move an item in any direction without rotating it
  • Flip: To turn over
  • Turn: To rotate around a point

Early Math Glossary

Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.

Adapt Lesson for Toddlers
Toddlers may:
  • Pick up the shapes and move them to the music
Child care providers may:
  • Have the children hold the shapes and move them in space with the song, following directions
Adapt Lesson for Preschoolers
Preschoolers may:
  • Try this with other shapes
  • Trace their shapes after each movement
Child care providers may:
  • Provide other shapes from the block set and repeat the song
  • Give the children crayons or markers to trace around their shapes when they slide, flip and turn

Suggested Books

  • Slides, Flips and Turns (My Path to Math) by Claire Piddock (Crabtree Publishing, 2010)
  • The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns (New York: Scholastic, 2008)
  • Circus Shapes by Stuart Murphy (New York: HarperCollins, 1997)
  • Shapes (Math Counts) by Henry Pluckrose (Chicago, IL: Children’s Press, 1995)

Music and Movement

Outdoor Connections

  • Sing “This is the way we slide, flip and turn” using dolls and stuffed animals. Dolls have a front that is distinctly different from the back, so they make it easier for the children to understand the “flip” motion.
  • Pick up leaves on an outdoor walk. Bring them in to do slides, flips and turns on the tagboard pieces.

Web Resources

Comment on this lesson