The Best Way to Connect Geometry and Engineering with 2-D Robots - Down River Resources | Your Elementary Math Guide

The Best Way to Connect Geometry and Engineering with 2-D Robots

Your young mathematicians and engineers will LOVE designing and constructing fun robots composed of two-dimensional shapes, or 2-D shapes! Depending on the grade level, your mathematicians and engineers can use their shape robots to show how many circles, triangles, squares, rectangles, rhombuses, and hexagons, and how many sides and vertices they used! This activity is bound to get your mathematicians and engineers critically thinking about the role robots play in our society. 

Top Way to Excite Young Students with Geometry and Engineering Using Robots

Students love ending a unit with a fun, culminating project. This two-dimensional robot craftivity is perfect for the end of a geometry unit OR engineering design unit. While I designed this project for kindergarten, first, and second grades, it could be throughout elementary school. There are several options that can be used for differentiation or a mix of these grade levels!

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Build Excitement Using Literature

First, I love using literature for interdisciplinary connections. I read Love, Z or Robot in Love to get engineers interested in robots. I usually teach two-dimensional shapes in January or February, so these are my favorite robot titles for this time of year!

Then, I read a short informational text that I wrote, The Most Important Thing about Robots. This text is patterned after the published book, The Important Book, by Margaret Wise Brown. By reading the informational text about robots aloud, I create shared knowledge with the class about some robot basics. 

Engineers learn about how robots help humans, the two main reasons robots are constructed with examples, and the two types of robots through the text. This robot knowledge will come in handy for the next part of the activity.

Designing a Two-Dimensional Robot 

The engineers use the knowledge they gained from the texts read aloud to design their robots. If you are interested in moving through the entire engineering design process, you can first have your students design or sketch their robot. Depending on your grade level, you might want your engineers to think about the limitations, or constraints, for their design. 

For example:
  • When using this activity with kindergarten engineers, they are limited to ONLY using circles, triangles, squares, and rectangles. 
  • When using this with first grades and above, engineers are limited to ONLY using circles, triangles, squares, rectangles, rhombuses, and hexagons.
  • These limitations above were generated based on the grade level standards.
  • You could create additional limitations, such as: "You can only use 12 shapes total." OR "You can only use 4 rectangles."

Engineers should think about the purpose of their robot. ASK: How does your robot help humans?

After engineers decide how their robot will help humans, they should plan the tasks that the robot should be able to do to carry out its purpose. This will determine what type of pieces, or parts, they will use.

Constructing a Two-Dimensional Robot 

After engineers design their robots, they can use the pre-printed templates to cut out the two-dimensional shapes to construct their robots. 

PRO TIP: I printed one full set of two-dimensional shapes in each color of cardstock. I placed the copies in the center of the group and engineers shared the pages. There are so many shapes included that one set of shapes per student is too much! 

You can also have engineers compose their own shapes using the attributes of two-dimensional shapes. This directly hits grade level standards but can be more challenging! You can use the pre-printed templates for tracing though to make this easier for engineers. I recommend using colored construction paper if using this option. This is also a good challenge for upper elementary engineers.

Engineers will need to glue the two-dimensional shapes together to construct their robots.

Once completed, engineers can use a half-sheet of paper to count the two-dimensional shapes included in their design. There are two different headings included: "My Robot Has..." or "I Like Shapes a Bot!" The shapes included on these printables are grade level specific, so there's three options.

Finally, engineers can use a recording sheet to name their robot and describe how their robot helps humans by doing three tasks.

In this photograph below, this kindergartener was challenged to use all of the shapes included to differentiate. The half-sheet of paper for counting the shapes was created for first grade engineers, but this kindergartener used it successfully. 

If you look at the engineering design report, this robot called Musicbot helps humans by making music when a band member is sick. Musicbot is able to play polka music, dance on stage, and walk on stage. {This kindergarten work sample amazes me!}

After looking at all of these work samples, I can't wait to see what your engineers design! 

Extending the Learning about Geometry and Engineering Design

Included in this set, there are 12 constraints cards. (See the orange set of cards in the lower left-hand corner of the photograph below.) If you need to differentiate the craft portion of the activity, you could assign a constraint card to an engineer. 

PRO TIP: I recommend cutting and placing all of the two-dimensional shapes that are left over from constructing robots in a plastic storage bag. Place the 12 constraints cards on a binder ring and slip into the bag. This becomes an instant station!

This can be used in a math station, science station, or engineering station to extend the learning.

There is an additional recording sheet for accountability if desiring to use the materials within a station. 

If mixing two-dimensional shapes and engineering design is a good-fit for your classroom, you can snag it right here in my TpT shop. 

I'm looking forward to seeing what your engineers design! Tag me on social media. 

This two-dimensional robot activity focuses on following standards:

→ TEKS K.6A  Identify two-dimensional shapes, including circles, triangles, rectangles, and squares as special rectangles. 

→ TEKS K.6F Create two-dimensional shapes using a variety of materials and drawings. (If you have your engineers cut out their own shapes to use, you will hit this standard!)

→ TEKS 1.6C Create two-dimensional figures, including circles, triangles, rectangles, and squares, as

special rectangles, rhombuses, and hexagons. (If you have your engineers cut out their own shapes to use, you will hit this standard!)

→ TEKS 1.6D I
dentify two-dimensional shapes, including circles, triangles, rectangles, and squares, as

special rectangles, rhombuses, and hexagons and describe their attributes using formal

geometric language. 

→ TEKS 2.8A Create two-dimensional shapes based on given attributes, including number of sides and


I hope this post inspires you to combine two-dimensional shapes and engineering design!

When do you teach these units in your classroom?

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