Fun Simple Variations on the Old Classic I Spy

I Spy 2D and 3D Shapes!

A Game for All Ages!

Our family loves playing I spy and it is a great game that can be adapted to all ages and abilities.  Now that our daughter is doing more mathematics at school we decided to help her recognise 2D & 3D shapes from simple descriptions.  As she becomes more used to the descriptive language for these shapes we can start incorporating more mathematical terms.  This is a simple and effective variation on I Spy and will help her learn maths through playing!

How to Play the Traditional Game.

A traditional I spy game starts with one person choosing an object that they can see.  They then start saying ‘I spy with my little eye something beginning with… ‘(insert 1st letter of the object’s name).  Everyone else playing the game tries to guess the object.  Whoever guesses correctly then picks an object to focus on!

Some I spy games allow you to ask for clues which is great for younger players who may need a little more help with their guesses!

How to Play I Spy 2D & 3D Shapes!

Again some one goes first and they have to pick an object to focus on.  Instead of trying to guess the object from the first letter, the object of the game is to guess the object from the mathematical descriptions!

I Spy... (1)


Here are some examples to get you started!

2D Descriptions

Player 1 decides to choose a triangular road sign.

They may start ‘I spy with my little eye something that has….’ 3 points/3 straight sides/is a flat shape and so on.  The other players have to use their knowledge of 2D shapes to guess it is a triangle and point out the triangular sign.

3D Descriptions

Player 1 decides to choose a square box of chocolates.

They may start with it is a shape that has 8 corners/ it is a solid shape/all faces are equal/it has 6 faces  until one of the other players use their knowledge of 3D shapes and guess it is a cube and point out the box of chocolates.

This game can be adapted for young children who are just learning their simple shapes by using ‘I spy something that is round….’  to describe a circle such as a clock or a plate.

This I spy game can also be used to stretch older children by using more complex mathematical language such as ‘I spy a something that has 5 corners and 5 faces, 4 faces are triangular…..’ to describe a square based pyramid.


2d & 3d Shapes WH

Here are some basic language and terms to help you play I Spy 2D & 3D Shapes!

Basic 2D Shapes

I spy a……..

Picture Frame = Square

4 sides all the same length

4 corners

Traffic Warning Sign = Triangle

3 Straight Sides

3 Corners

Plate = Circle

1 curved side

No corners

Piece of A4 paper = Rectangle

4 corners

4 sides – 2 long & 2 short

Basic 3D Shapes

I spy a……..


12 Edges

6 Square faces

8 Corners (apex)

Book = Cuboid

12 Edges

4 Longer faces

2 Shorter faces.

8 Corners

Egyptian Pyramid = Square Based Pyramid

8 Edges

4 Triangular faces

1 Square face

5 Corners

Triangular Puzzle Toy = Triangular Based Pyramid 

6 edges

4 Triangular faces

4 corners

Triangular Roof of a Building = Prism

9 Edges

2 Triangular faces

3 Rectangular faces

6 Corners

Ball = Sphere

1 Curved Face

No corners

Ice Cream Cornet or Snow Cone = Cone

1 Curved Edge

1 Apex (point)

1 Round face

1 Curved face

Tin Can = Cylinder

2 Curved Edges

No Corners

2 Round faces

1 Curved face

With older children you could start adding even more shapes and more complex terms!  Before long you will be all describing the world around you in mathematical terms and having fun playing it too!

We are thrilled to be joining in with the Cool Maths for Cool Kids series, making learning maths fun for kids of all ages!  Click through to see what other parents, educators and teachers are posting as part of this brilliant series.

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Plus if you are a blogger and you have posted about teaching and learning about maths then feel free to join in the linky below!



Always interested in writing, reading and learning in general. I love the quirky and unusual! All thoughts are my own!

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