EL Support Lesson

The Attributes of Polygons

Get your students discussing the attributes of polygons by having them categorize statements as always, sometimes, or never true. Use this lesson independently or alongside *Characteristics of Polygons.*
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theCharacteristics of PolygonsLesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theCharacteristics of PolygonsLesson plan.

Students will be able to categorize polygons by attributes.


Students will be able to discuss the attributes of polygons using a graphic organizer and key vocabulary.

(3 minutes)
Drawing and Identifying PolygonsTeach Background Knowledge TemplateWrite Student-Facing Language Objectives ReferenceWhat is True About the Shapes?Vocabulary Cards: The Attributes of PolygonsGlossary: The Attributes of Polygons
  • Have students take out their whiteboard and whiteboard markers, and instruct them to draw a shape of their choice. Then, have them turn and talk to a partner about how their shapes are similar and different. Listen for key words students use and jot them down.
  • Tell students that you heard them talking about the attributes, or the characteristics, of the shapes by pointing out things like how many sides they have, if they are straight or rounded sides, and their angles.
  • Read the student-friendly Language Objective and have students repeat it aloud. Tell them that today, they will be discussing the attributes of different shapes to help them get a strong understanding of how the shapes are related to each other.
(10 minutes)
  • Remind students that you used the word AttributesAt the beginning of the lesson, and you pointed out that they were talking about the attributes of different shapes. Point out that the attributes of a classroom are the things that make the room a classroom, such as desks, students, a teacher, books, paper, pencils, a projector, computers, learning materials, etc.
  • Explain that the things that make a shape fit into a specific category include angles, number of sides, types of lines, and length of sides.
  • Give each student a set of Vocabulary Cards, and display a set on the document camera. Read aloud each of the vocabulary words and have students repeat them. Do the same for the definitions.
  • Tell learners that there are real life examples of these shapes all around us. Point out an example of a rectangle in the classroom (e.g., a tissue box) and ask students to suggest any other examples.
  • Put students into small groups and assign each group a different shape. Give them one minute to look around the room and identify as many items as they can that can be categorized into that shape. Have them record their suggestions on their whiteboards.
  • Call on students to represent their groups and share some of their examples. Prompt them to share more details by asking questions and providing sentence stems:
    • How do you know that ____Is an example of ____? (I know it is an example of ____Because ____.)
    • What other shape is it similar to? (It is like ____.)
    • What makes it different than the other shapes? (It is different because ____.)
(6 minutes)
  • Display a teacher copy of Drawing and Identifying Polygons on the document camera and have students call out the names of the polygons. Record the names as students identify them. Note that the students will not be drawing the shapes. Facilitate a Think-Pair-Share for the following question: "Why is a kite considered a polygon?"
  • Ask students to consider if the kite is also a quadrilateral and how they know. Provide sentence stems to support student conversation.
  • Draw a rectangle on the board or reference the real-life example of a rectangle that was pointed out earlier in the lesson. Model talking about the attributes of the shape. For example, say, "I notice that the rectangle has four sides. It has two sets of parallel lines because they will never meet. Two of the sides are longer, and two of the sides are shorter. The rectangle has four right angles."
  • Draw a trapezoid on the board and instruct students to turn and talk to a partner about the attributes of the shape. Provide a sentence stem to support their conversation, such as "I notice that the shape has ____." Share out as a class, and provide feedback and clarification as needed.
  • Repeat the same process with student conversation for the remaining shapes from the vocabulary terms: polygon, quadrilateral, square.
(14 minutes)
  • Instruct students to take out a pair of scissors and distribute the What Is True About the Shapes? worksheet to each student.
  • Go over the instructions of the task. Tell them that they will cut out the statements at the bottom and determine if they are always, sometimes, or never true. They will then place them in the correct section on the graphic organizer.
  • Choose one of the statements to model thinking aloud where it should go on the chart. Be sure to reference the Vocabulary Cards to let students know that they should be using the key vocabulary from the lesson as they complete the activity.
  • Put students into partnerships and have them complete the worksheet together. Each partner should complete their own worksheet, but they should discuss how they know where to put each statement on the graphic organizer.
  • Go over the task as a class and pose questions to get students sharing more detail about their thought processes. Provide the following sentence stems to support their answers:
    • How do you know the statement belongs in that section? (I know the statement belongs in that section because ____.)
    • Can that shape ever have different attributes? (It can/can't have different attributes because ____.)
    • What could you change about the statement to make it fit into the ____(Always, Sometimes, Never) column? (I could change ____.)


  • Allow access to reference materials in home language (L1).
  • Have learners repeat instructions and key vocabulary to the teacher.
  • Provide a word bank of key terms and phrases for students to use in group and class discussions. Include words such as: attributes, sides, length, size, shape.
  • Group students intentionally based on academic and language needs.


  • Allow learners to utilize glossaries and dictionaries for unfamiliar words.
  • Encourage students to answer questions and participate in discussions without referring to the sentence stems or frames for support.
  • Choose advanced ELs to share their ideas first in group and class discussions.
  • Have learners repeat instructions and key vocabulary, summarizing important information for the class.
  • Put students in mixed ability groups so they can offer explanations and provide feedback to beginning ELs when appropriate.
(5 minutes)
  • Instruct students to take out their whiteboards and whiteboard markers. Tell them that you will describe a shape and have them draw what shape they hear described. Do this with a few different shapes using the descriptions below. Stop and discuss the shapes students drew before moving on to the next. Listen for key terminology in the discussion.
    • Draw a shape that has two sets of parallel lines and four right angles. (rectangle or square)
    • Draw a shape that has four straight sides. (all quadrilaterals)
    • Draw a shape that has one set of parallel lines. (trapezoid)
    • Draw a 2D, flat closed shape with straight sides. (any polygon)
(2 minutes)
  • Ask the class to brainstorm jobs in which they need to be very knowledgeable about the attributes of different shapes. Share out as a class.
  • Remind learners that shapes are all around us, and we must understand the attributes that make each shape specific if we are going to be able to tell the difference and talk about them.

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