Transformations Lesson Plan: Translation, Reflection, Rotation

Submitted by: Elizabeth Poole

Grade Levels: 3-5

In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 3-5, students use BrainPOP resources to explore the difference between a translation, reflection, and rotation. Students will move their bodies to show each transformation, and draw each transformation on paper. They will also use and apply vocabulary words related to transformations in a variety of contexts.

Students will:

  1. Demonstrate the difference between a translation, reflection, and rotation by moving their bodies to show each transformation and drawing each transformation on their paper.
  2. Use and apply vocabulary words related to transformations in a variety of contexts.


  • Computer with internet access for BrainPOP
  • Interactive whiteboard (or just an LCD projector)
  • Index cards, markers, and one envelope/baggie for each group of students
  • A few geometric shapes math manipulatives for each student
  • Photocopies of the Activity
  • Vocabulary words


transformation; translation; rotation; reflection; symmetry; direction; distance; center point; rotation angle; mirror line


Make photocopies of the Activity. Preview the movie and plan your pause and talking points.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Review transformations by passing out the Activity sheet to the class. Encourage students to work with a partner to jot down what they already know about the vocabulary terms on the sheet.
  2. Show the Transformation Movie to the class with the closed captioning on. Give students time to revisit the activity and continue filling in the definitions. You may want to play the movie through a second time.
  3. Have students stand up and face the front of the classroom. Call out different transformations and have students move to show what that transformation would look like.
  4. Show students a completed example of the activity (you can project this for the class to see) with the correct vocabulary word definitions. Allow students to make edits on their worksheet and ensure all the information they have is accurate.
  5. Divide students into groups and provide each group with a set of blank index cards. Have students write the terms and the definitions on seperate cards. It may be helpful to mark the back of the vocabulary term cards with one color of marker and the back of the definition cards with another color to aid in matching.
  6. Have students work in their groups to match their vocabulary words to the correct definitions.
  7. Repeat the activity, timing the groups to see which group can do it the fastest. Alternatively, have each group record their time and race against themselves in an attempt to improve their own score. Check to see that each group has the answers correct, or have groups check one another's answers.
  8. Pass out envelopes or baggies for students to store their cards in. They may want to play the game again later on as a review.
  9. As a practice activity or as an assessment, ask each student to draw two examples of each translation. Walk around and observe the students drawings, facilitating their thinking as needed.