Hack My House

by littleBits

Published on July 22, 2013

Students learn about geometry concepts through building 3-d paper structures. During this lesson, students use pre-designed templates, craft materials, and littleBits modules to create 3-dimensional buildings. The exterior of a building, or any solid, is made up of 2-dimensional shapes such as rectangles and triangles. Together, these 2-dimensional shapes, called "faces", make up a "net" when flattened that can be folded to form a 3-d object, or prism.

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • Represent three-dimensional figures using nets made up of 2-dimensional shapes.
Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice
  • G: Geometry
NGSS Science and Engineering Practices
  • SEP2: Developing and using Models

Pre and post-tests on representing three-dimensional figures using nets

Learn more about the workshop that inspired this lesson here:


Duration: 1- 2 hours

Lesson Guide


Introduce "nets"

(10 minutes)

To introduce the unit, show a three-dimensional objects, such as a cereal box or cup. Ask what shape makes up the object if it were cut and flattened. Demonstrate how a cup is made up of a circle and a rectangle; and a cereal box is made up of rectangles and squares. You can show other examples, or give small groups objects to figure out the shapes that make up the object. 

Explain that a "net" is a two-dimensional shape that, when folded, encloses a three-dimensional object. Show (or distribute) a net for a cube, explaining that each side of the cube is called a "face", and then put the cube together. Discuss how you can draw a net for an object by visualizing what it would look like if you cut along the edges and flatten it out.   


Check for understanding (10-15 minutes)

Check for student understanding of identifying shapes in 3-D objects, and trying to create a net for the shape. The pre-test shows a collection of 3-D objects and asks students to count the faces for a select few, as well as draw the 2-D shapes of each face. Consider presenting the 3-D objects to the entire class on a whiteboard or poster.

Review the pre-test, by having students share and explain the shapes used in the 3-dimensional objects. Discuss the techniques students used to determine the faces that make up each shape? Where did they make mistakes, and what might have caused them?


Construction phase (30 minutes)
Have students practice identifying the shapes of 3-D objects in the room, or take a walk outside, paying close attention to buildings. In small groups or pairs, students can practice identifying the faces of simple 3-D objects and drawing nets for the objects. 

Explain to students that they will construct their own buildings using different shapes and nets. Then, using littleBits modules, they will enhance their buildings and add interactive features, for example, adding a light, a doorbell, etc. 

Using the templates provided or other nets templates, consider letting students select their own building template and colored construction paper. Then have them cut out the template to use as a guide for cutting out the net of their building from the construction paper. You may also choose to glue the printed templates to cardstock to guide the students as they cut. 
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Construction phase


Interaction design phase (45 min)
Depending on how many sets of littleBits modules are available, give students an opportunity to incorporate circuits into their buildings. If the modules are new to your students, demonstrate how they work and giving students some time to familiarize themselves with the modules.

Once students have created their buildings, give students an opportunity to demonstrate their creations to the class, or have students walk around, visit, and interact with the constructions.
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Student Project


Administer a post-test (10-15 minutes)
To assess students' abilities to identify the faces of 3-D models, ask them to draw the faces of their buildings. Do not let them look at the template while they complete the assessment. Consider using this assessment as an opportunity to check for understanding of related subjects, such as surface area, perimeter, and volume, if that has been part of your unit.
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Project materials