Lesson Plan – What Shape is That?

 Shape and clay/plasticine modelling – Students develop an awareness of different places of worship and the shapes in their architecture through this hands-on activity.


  • To assist students in recognising familiar shapes in architecture.
  • To develop students’ awareness of the appearance of different places of worship.


  • Book: What’s Special to Me? Religious Buildings by Anita Ganeri, Wayland Publishing Ltd, 1998, UK or a similar story about a child going to a place of worship.
  • Plasticine, play dough or clay.
  • Newspaper to work on.
  • A range of modelling tools and shapes to trace around.
  • Pictures of places of worship for Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, Jews and Hindus.

What to do

  1. Teacher reads the story and students share their own experiences and knowledge of places of worship.
  2. Students view the pictures of different places of worship and teacher labels them with key information eg name of building, religion.
  3. Using the pictures and the book, students compare and contrast the features of the different buildings and identify the shapes they can see in them.
    Note: Younger children may simply identify 2D shapes, while older ones may be introduced to 3D shapes eg hemisphere, triangular and rectangular prisms.
  4. Students choose one of the buildings to model.
  5. Teacher demonstrates the construction of the shapes and how to join them together (blending edges together with thumbs).
  6. Students construct their models and display their constructions.

Extension activities

  • Students could visit some places of worship in the local area.
  • The learning activity could be done using coloured paper or other construction materials.
  • This activity could be completed as a part of a thematic study of buildings.
  • Invite a guest speaker to speak to the class about shapes in buildings and why they are used eg for strength.
  • Students may learn more about the clothing, ceremonies, customs and decoration associated with different places of worship.

Adapted from a Living in Harmony Funded Project, ‘All Together Now’, Churches’ Commission on Education, WA, 1999.