Original Research

The ability of second graders to identify solids in different positions and to justify their answer

Yael Sarfaty, Dorit Patkin
Pythagoras | Vol 34, No 1 | a212 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/pythagoras.v34i1.212 | © 2013 Yael Sarfaty, Dorit Patkin | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 January 2013 | Published: 28 June 2013

About the author(s)

Yael Sarfaty, Kibbutzim College of Education, Tel Aviv, Israel
Dorit Patkin, Kibbutzim College of Education, Tel Aviv, Israel


From a young age children feel the need to identify two-dimensional geometric figures (shapes) and three-dimensional geometric figures (solids). The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics indicates the importance of being able to identify and name various geometric figures by kindergarten age. One of the objectives of this study was to learn the ability of second graders to identify examples and non-examples of three generally known solids: cylinder, cone and pyramid, and to justify their identification based on the attributes (critical and non-critical) of those solids. Another objective was to find out whether changing the position of the solids would result in those children maintaining their decisions regarding the name or changing their identification of the solids, giving arguments accordingly. Findings of this study illustrate that children can identify and characterise solids presented to them in a typical position. However, they find it difficult to correctly identify the same solids in another position. An interesting finding was that most of the arguments given to justify their identification were based on the specific attributes of the solid rather than on the perception of the solids in general. Findings of the present study suggest that it is highly important for learners to be acquainted with a variety of both non-examples and examples of solids. Moreover, it is recommended that solids are presented to learners not only in the typical position, in order to improve their ability to identify them and understand that the name of the figure does not change when its position changes.


identification of solids; critical attributes; non-critical attributes; examples; non-examples; prototype; non-prototype; typical position; atypical position


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Crossref Citations

1. Recent research on geometry education: an ICME-13 survey team report
Nathalie Sinclair, Maria G. Bartolini Bussi, Michael de Villiers, Keith Jones, Ulrich Kortenkamp, Allen Leung, Kay Owens
ZDM  vol: 48  issue: 5  first page: 691  year: 2016  
doi: 10.1007/s11858-016-0796-6