# Shape Terminology for Nursery

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by Nazard, Jan 27, 2012.

1. ### NazardNew commenter

DeborahCarol - I agree with almost all of this.

"What most people think of as a rectangle" is, of course, actually an oblong. I still (after lots of threads about this on here) don't understand why 'oblong' is such a bad word. If I could redesign the world from scratch then I would get nursery children to call a square "a square", an oblong "an oblong" and then, at some point during primary education would introduce the word "rectangle" that means 'a quadrilateral with four right angles' (hence the name).

I am enough of a realist to know that I won't ever get to be president of the universe and that the square/oblong/rectangle idea ain't gonna happen, though.

I like 'purist' - I usually get called 'pedant' ...

2. ### DeborahCarolNew commenter

Agree! 'Oblong' is good!

3. ### Anna-Luise

I'm not so sure.

Oblong images.

4. ### MissMistoffeleesNew commenter

Thanks for all the advice, will avoid mentioning sides altogether! And I knew that about rectangles and usually use the word oblong myself (because I like to be correct on these things!) but children more often use rectangle so I let them use whichever they want. Are they oblongs too then Anna-Luise; when I looked up the definition of oblong it said a rectangle where two of its sides are longer than the other two.

5. ### NazardNew commenter

In which case, don't ever use Google for

Trapezium images
unless you are American and have a different definition of the word "trapezium" from those of us on this side of the pond ...

Google isn't to be trusted here.

As is well-known on this forum, the most authoritative source for mathematical definitions is
www.mathsisfun.com

6. ### DeborahCarolNew commenter

I'm not sure what you mean, Anna-Luise.
Firstly, oblong doesn't mean 'rectangle'. That's the point. A 'rectangle' is a four-sided shape with four right angles, so a square is also a 'rectangle'.
'Oblong', however, is a 'rectangle' that is NOT a square'.
Also, I'd bet if I Googled 'square images' I'd see some things there that aren't squares, and if I Googled 'circular images' I'd see some things that aren't circles! But that doesn't mean that people don't know what a circle is.

7. ### DeborahCarolNew commenter

Anna-Louise, did you know what an oblong was before you googled it? I hope you don't mind me asking, but if you are 'younger' rather than 'older' (!) and you hadn't met the term in your own schooling, I could understand it, as the term is rarely used nowadays.

8. ### Anna-Luise

For an authoritative source I usually turn to my maths dictionaries.

One says, another word for a rectangle. (which would make a square an oblong too! and that's just silly.)

The other doesn't even have the word oblong.

My normal dictionary says:

(adj.) Having an elongated esp. rectangular shape.

(noun) a figure or object having this shape.

All in all I'm happy to avoid oblong and say that some rectangles are squares.

9. ### Anna-Luise

Sorry, I missed both of your most recent posts.

I don't mind a bit. I don't think I met the word at school but I'm not young.

I think my use of Google images was a bad idea and proves nothing. My dictionary on the other hand casts doubt on the use of the word oblong in place of the word rectangle.

I'm all geeked out now and have to stop talking about oblongs.

10. ### MissMistoffeleesNew commenter

Ooh! Looks like I've started something here! No danger of me saying a square on it's corner is a diamond; hate that one!! What are people's opinions on saying a heart or star is a shape; we have some shape jigsaws which have those on and it rather annoys me as I wouldn't count them (especially the heart) as 'proper' shapes.

I'm happy to be shouted down but isn't an oval also an oblong, that is, elongated?

I'm quite happy that there are shapes which are common knowledge but not geometrically defined. I'm even happy to have diamond used as well as rhombus - whoever talks about the Jack of rhombuses? But I was concerned that rhombus disappeared from my daughter's vocabulary whilst at pre-school - as she coped with plenty of synonyms, I suspect someone said "No, it's not, it's a diamond."

13. ### NazardNew commenter

I agree with this.

It seems perfectly reasonable to called something 'heart-shaped', even though a 'heart' is not a mathematical shape (a cardioid is the closest I think we can get, but this lacks the straight parts). The problem occurs when we have a shape name that has a mathematical meaning and an everyday meaning which are different. Rectangle, regrettably, falls into this category.

14. ### s1x

To The OP:
You may wish to look at the level expected of the kids you deal with.
P scales and NC levels are given here:

http://www.mewan.net/curriculum/mathematics/index.php?category_id=22

This may or may not influence the level of knowledge you share with them at this age.

Ps. I hate oblong. I don't think its any easier to say or remember than rectangle and becomes obsolete (quite fitting) as pupils get older. I think rectangle tells them far more about the shape.
(pps ...is there an easier way to format the text using google chrome? This post looks a mess!)

15. ### florapost

i'll vote for you!!!!
ps whilst a heart, like many shapes really, is a shape but not a geometrical one - a star is - a pentagram is a type of star polygon, and a star of david is a star figure (wolfram maths)
op - on your original question, it would be lovely if you could start them down the path of 'sides are straight' - so you can't ask the question about a circle - but then the poor little s*ds will undoubtedly be told at some point in the future that 'a circle has one side' - and they are a wee bit young for my standard caution to y5/6's 'just stay smug inside your head and don't bother arguing'

16. ### NazardNew commenter

Bit of a nightmare. I use Chrome nowadays and it is a brilliant browser for me everywhere ... except on TES! Essentially you have to put in html codes to get the formatting you want.

There are a number of ways to get paragraphs, but the easiest is to put the less-than symbol and then br and then the greater-than symbol.

If you want to format a web link the easiest way is to find one in someone else's post, click 'reply' and then click 'Quote' to see how it is done.

Regrettably the easiest thing is just to use a different browser ...

17. ### PiranhaStar commenter

Well, you learn something new every day. Coming towards the end of my career, I have at last discovered what a trapezoid is.

18. ### s1x

Yes I have realised cranking up IE9, which I ditched, is easier. Oh heck things could be a little easier in life couldnt they..