DreamBox Learning Releases New Classification Lessons

Young children naturally begin making sense of the world around them by noticing similarities and differences in what they see, hear, taste, smell, and touch. These observations eventually manifest in language development and sorting, matching, categorization, and classification activities. For example, a young child may refer to every dog as “Fluffy” because she recognizes that animals with the same characteristics as her aunt’s German Shepard should be categorized under one identifier. This same child repeatedly practices pushing the triangle block through the three sided cutout in the lid of her shape-sorter, and she loves to help sort the silverware in the drawer and the plates in the cupboard. She knows that the world around her is organized and she wants to learn how and why. Popular children’s toys such as shape sorting buckets, color sorting cubes, pattern blocks, matching cards, and sticker patterning activities are mathematically relevant because they create awareness that is vital for math learning both in numeracy and in geometric abstraction.

As children enter elementary school, intermediate geometry standards require that students learn the attributes, vocabulary, and classification of shapes, polygons, one-dimensional figures, and three dimensional figures (Common Core State Standards Geometry). While learning about geometric figures has great potential to be experiential and relevant to real-world situations, teachers are often limited by textbook representations, small varieties of classroom manipulatives, and pencil-paper activities that are focused on basic understandings of these figures. Students are given a set of shapes, for example, and asked which ones belong in predetermined categories. Immediately, students are forced to classify figures based only on the properties and attributes that the teacher and textbook have deemed important instead of being given the space to create these relationships on their own. While students do engage in activities that can teach them basic attribute relationships and hierarchies, these activities may not be engaging enough to offer rigorous, motivating, and differentiated experiences for each student.

DreamBox Learning is proud to announce a new set of Classification lessons that empower students to create their own learning experiences while enhancing understanding of one dimensional, two dimensional, and three dimensional figures.

DreamBox Learning Classification lessons provide five distinguishing elements:

  1. These lessons encourage students to construct their own learning and provide a model by which to create Euler and Venn diagrams. Students do not complete someone else’s work; they choose the diagram configurations and categories based on attributes they recognize instead of being told which relationships to notice. Discovery is a key element to engagement and learning.


  2. Many lessons are designed specifically to allow more than one correct answer. Classification lessons offer open-ended instructions that guide students to solve problems in their own way. One student may prefer to group figures by the attribute of having at least five angles, which would encompass all polygons and non-polygons with five or more segments, while another student may choose to group a similar set of figures by the attribute of simply being non-polygons. Each student can complete the problem successfully in their own way. When they are unable to complete each step independently, the lesson reacts and adapts to what the student has done instead of generically moving him along to the next problem.



  3. The digital manipulatives are designed to allow students space to discover how figures and their attributes relate, while also being empowered to make deliberate mathematical decisions to show their understanding. 


  4. These lessons are specifically designed to follow a pathway of learning. Students identify attributes and learn definitions of vocabulary terms before exploring the hierarchy of specific polygons. This strengthens students’ understanding of vocabulary, and reinforces the relationships between attributes in different types of figures.


  5. These lessons go one step further by asking students to think analytically about concepts they have become fluent with while working through the learning pathway. Students select Always True, Sometimes True, or Never True to best describe given claims such as “Squares are rhombi.” This type of analysis connects self-directed learning with statements commonly associated with geometric categorization.


We have added 29 new lessons to our library covering Classification in Geometry standards.

Stefani Kauppila

Stefani Kauppila

Curriculum Designer at DreamBox Learning, Inc.
Stefani Kauppila is an experienced classroom educator who worked in elementary and middle school settings in Sammamish, Washington, for six years before joining the DreamBox Learning Curriculum Design team in 2014. She earned a Masters degree in Teaching with endorsements in Reading and Language Development and currently holds a Washington State teaching certificate. She works passionately to create innovative math curriculum designed to adapt and individualize learning for all students.
Stefani Kauppila