How can we help our students develop confidence and spatial awareness when working with 3D design challenges? Here are some of our favourite ideas for helping students find their way around in 3D and move between 2D and 3D environments.

1. #ShapeDetectives

Look for 2D shapes in 3D objects found in the classroom and outside. Take photographs of the objects and create #hashtags to tag the 2D shapes they contain.

2. Flat Out

Provide a range of cardboard boxes and containers. Students draw what they think the boxes will look like when they are opened out and laid flat. They then unfold the box and compare it to their drawing

3. Hello Down There

Have students observe objects from as many angles as possible and record what they see

4. Location, Location

Students photograph an object in the school yard such as a bench or a tree. Students swap photographs and try to work out where the student was standing, sitting or lying when the photo was taken.

5. Games

Spend time investigating the 3D world in online games such as Mine Craft. Ask students to describe their gaming experiences to each other to help develop positional and spatial vocabulary, and conceptual understanding.

6. Going Dotty

Provide students with a selection of 3D shapes and ask them to draw them. Introduce dotted paper as a tool for drawing 3D shapes.

7. Who am I?

Students take it in turns to think of a 3D shape. Other students ask questions where the answer can only be yes or no to work out what the mystery shape is. e.g. Do I have 6 faces? Do I have a face that is a circle

8. Puzzling!

Provide intriguing puzzles and challenges that require students to visualize and manipulate shapes in their minds. Some great ideas at

9. Design a box

Each student is given a different object such as a toy and asked to create a box to package it. The box must be created as a net and then folded to form a box. The box needs to fit the object as snuggly as possible.

10. Construct Me

Allow time for students to manipulate and construct with 2D shapes to form 3D structures using construction sets such as Polydrons.

Makers Empire’s Lesson Ideas are free, quick and easy ideas to get you started with 3D design and printing. We hope you enjoyed this post.


Mandi Dimitriadis, DipT. is an experienced classroom teacher who recognises the power of technology to enhance teaching and improve educational outcomes. Mandi has extensive experience with curriculum development and learning, having previously developed programs for the Australian Government’s Department of Education. She is passionate about Design Thinking and how best to prepare today’s students for the future.


Makers Empire: Better learning by design

Makers Empire helps K-8 teachers teach STEM/STEAM concepts, design thinking principles and 21st century learning skills using 3D printing. Our pioneering 3D solutions for schools — 3D Learning Program and Learning by Design Course — include 3D modelling software, over 100 curriculum-aligned lesson plans and professional development. Makers Empire is used by thousands of teachers and hundreds of thousands of students in Australia, the USA, Asia and Europe. Join our community today!

  • Ideal for those ready to make a decision about Makers Empire's suitablity for their individual school. For district deals, please choose Book Demo.
  • Ideal for those looking at budget planning and implementation, those who want to learn if Makers Empire is a good fit and those who have lots of questions.
  • Ideal for those who are short on time and those wanting to learn more about integrating 3D design and printing into the K-8 classroom.