Math resources Geometry

Prism shape

Prism shape

Here you will learn about prism shapes, including how to classify and identify prism shapes.

Students will first learn about prism shapes as a part of geometry in 1st grade and continue to explore prism shapes in 6th grade.

What is a prism shape?

A prism shape is a 3D shape made up of flat faces, including two congruent polygonal bases and lateral sides connecting the bases. This page will cover right prisms, which have rectangular lateral faces.

For example,

Prism Shape image 1 US

Three main features of prisms are: faces, vertices and edges:

  • Face – a closed, flat surface.
  • Edge – connects two faces.
  • Vertex (pl. vertices) – a point where three or more edges meet.

You can label the vertices (corners) of a prism to identify certain edges or faces. Below is an example of a triangular prism where the letters A-F represent the 6 vertices of the prism.

Prism Shape image 2 US

Using this labeling, you can identify lengths such as the length AB :

Prism Shape image 3 US

You can also identify faces such as the face ABC :

Prism Shape image 4 US

The number of faces, edges and vertices can vary depending on the prism. Let’s look at some examples:

ShapeFacesEdgesVertices

Prism shape triangular prism
Triangular prism
5 9 6

Prism shape rectangular prism
Rectangular prism
6 12 8

Prism shape pentagonal prism
Pentagonal prism
7 15 10

Prism shape hexagonal prism
L-shaped prism
(Hexagonal prism)
8 18 12

A prism is irregular if the base is not a regular polygon.

For example, the rectangular prism and L-shaped prism are irregular prisms because their bases are irregular polygons.

What is a prism shape?

What is a prism shape?

Common Core State Standards

How does this relate to 1st grade math and 6th grade math?

  • Grade 1: Geometry (1.G.A.2)
    Compose two-dimensional shapes (rectangles, squares, trapezoids, triangles, half-circles, and quarter-circles) or three-dimensional shapes (cubes, right rectangular prisms, right circular cones, and right circular cylinders) to create a composite shape, and compose new shapes from the composite shape.

  • Grade 6: Geometry (6.G.A.4)
    Represent three-dimensional figures using nets made up of rectangles and triangles, and use the nets to find the surface area of these figures. Apply these techniques in the context of solving real-world and mathematical problems.

How to identify a prism shape

In order to identify a prism shape, you will:

  1. Look for the characteristics of a prism.
  2. State whether or not the shape is a prism.
  3. If the shape is not a prism, explain what characteristics are different.

[FREE] 3D Shape Check for Understanding Quiz (Grade 1, 5 and 6)

[FREE] 3D Shape Check for Understanding Quiz (Grade 1, 5 and 6)

[FREE] 3D Shape Check for Understanding Quiz (Grade 1, 5 and 6)

Use this quiz to check your grade 1, 5 and 6 students’ understanding of 3D shape. 10+ questions with answers covering a range of 1st, 5th and 6th grade 3D shape topics to identify areas of strength and support!

DOWNLOAD FREE
x
[FREE] 3D Shape Check for Understanding Quiz (Grade 1, 5 and 6)

[FREE] 3D Shape Check for Understanding Quiz (Grade 1, 5 and 6)

[FREE] 3D Shape Check for Understanding Quiz (Grade 1, 5 and 6)

Use this quiz to check your grade 1, 5 and 6 students’ understanding of 3D shape. 10+ questions with answers covering a range of 1st, 5th and 6th grade 3D shape topics to identify areas of strength and support!

DOWNLOAD FREE

Volume of a prism examples

Example 1: identifying prisms

Is the shape below a prism?

Prism Shape image 6 US

  1. Look for the characteristics of a prism.

The shape has 6 rectangular faces.

Prism Shape image 7 US

2State whether or not the shape is a prism.

This shape is a prism. Since the base is a rectangle, it is a rectangular prism.

Example 2: identifying prisms

Is the shape below a prism?

Prism Shape image 8 US

Look for the characteristics of a prism.

State whether or not the shape is a prism.

If the shape is not a prism, explain what characteristics are different.

Example 3: identifying prisms

Is the shape below a prism?

Prism Shape image 10 US

Look for the characteristics of a prism.

State whether or not the shape is a prism. 

Example 4: identifying prisms

Is the shape below a prism?

Prism Shape image 12 US

Look for the characteristics of a prism.

State whether or not the shape is a prism.

If the shape is not a prism, explain what characteristics are different.

Example 5: identifying prisms

Is the shape below a prism?

Prism Shape image 14 US

Look for the characteristics of a prism.

State whether or not the shape is a prism.

If the shape is not a prism, explain what characteristics are different.

Example 6: identifying prisms

Is the shape below a prism?

Prism Shape image 15 US

Look for the characteristics of a prism.

State whether or not the shape is a prism.

Teaching tips for prism shapes

  • Worksheets are one way to have students practice types of prisms, but real-life exposure to these shapes is crucial. This can include working with 3D math manipulatives, creating the prisms and their nets and identifying prisms in the real world.

Easy mistakes to make

  • Confusing edges and vertices
    Edges are the straight lines where two faces meet, while a vertex is a point where edges intersect.
    For example,

    Prism Shape image 17 US

  • Confusing 2D and 3D shapes
    When learning the names and properties of shapes, it can be easy to confuse them. With repeated exposure and conversations around these shapes, it becomes easier to remember them.

  • Forgetting that bases are equal
    A prism has identical bases (or identical ends) that are connected by lateral faces. If a shape only has one base or the bases are not identical, the shape is not a prism.

  • Thinking that oblique prisms are not prisms
    Though they are not typically introduced until later grades, oblique prisms fit the definition and are prisms. If younger students come across these in the real world or ask questions about these shapes, this gives an opportunity to discuss why they are prisms, but how they are different from right prisms.
    For example,
    The oblique rectangular prism below has two identical bases and parallelogram lateral faces.

    Prism Shape image 18 US

Practice prism shape questions

1. Which shape is a prism?

 

Prism Shape image 19 US

GCSE Quiz False

Prism Shape image 20 US

GCSE Quiz False

Prism Shape image 21 US

GCSE Quiz False

Prism Shape image 22 US

GCSE Quiz True

This shape has two rectangular bases and four rectangular lateral faces – it is a rectangular prism.

 

Prism Shape image 23 US

2. Which shape is NOT a prism?

 

Prism Shape image 24 US

GCSE Quiz True

Prism Shape image 25 US

GCSE Quiz False

Prism Shape image 26 US

GCSE Quiz False

Prism Shape image 27 US

GCSE Quiz False

This shape has two identical bases, but it does not have any lateral faces. It is not a prism – it is a cylinder.

 

 

Prism Shape image 28 US

3. Which shape is a prism?

 

Prism Shape image 29 US

GCSE Quiz False

Prism Shape image 30 US

GCSE Quiz False

Prism Shape image 31 US

GCSE Quiz True

Prism Shape image 32 US

GCSE Quiz False

This shape has two triangular bases and three rectangular lateral faces – it is a triangular prism.

 

Prism Shape image 33 US

4. Which shape is NOT a prism?

 

Prism Shape image 34 US

GCSE Quiz False

Prism Shape image 35 US

GCSE Quiz True

Prism Shape image 36 US

GCSE Quiz False

Prism Shape image 37 US

GCSE Quiz False

This shape has one base and it does not have any lateral faces. It is not a prism – it is a cone.

 

Prism Shape image 38 US

5. Which shape is a triangular prism?

 

Prism Shape image 39 US

GCSE Quiz False

Prism Shape image 40 US

GCSE Quiz False

Prism Shape image 41 US

GCSE Quiz False

Prism Shape image 42 US

GCSE Quiz True

This shape has two triangular bases and three rectangular lateral faces – it is a triangular prism.

 

Prism Shape image 43 US

6. Which shape is a rectangular prism?

 

Prism Shape image 44 US

GCSE Quiz False

Prism Shape image 45 US

GCSE Quiz True

Prism Shape image 46 US

GCSE Quiz False

Prism Shape image 47 US

GCSE Quiz False

This shape has two rectangular bases and four rectangular lateral faces – it is a rectangular prism.

 

Prism Shape image 48 US

Prism shape FAQs

What is an octagonal prism?

A prism with two identical octagonal bases connected by lateral faces.

How do you calculate the volume of a rectangular prism?

Take the area of the base and multiply it by the height of the prism. Record the answer in cubic units.

What are cross-sections?

Cross-sections are the 2D shape that is created when a 3D shape is sliced.

The next lessons are

Still stuck?

At Third Space Learning, we specialize in helping teachers and school leaders to provide personalized math support for more of their students through high-quality, online one-on-one math tutoring delivered by subject experts.

Each week, our tutors support thousands of students who are at risk of not meeting their grade-level expectations, and help accelerate their progress and boost their confidence.

One on one math tuition

Find out how we can help your students achieve success with our math tutoring programs.

x

[FREE] Common Core Practice Tests (Grades 3 to 6)

Prepare for math tests in your state with these Grade 3 to Grade 6 practice assessments for Common Core and state equivalents.

40 multiple choice questions and detailed answers to support test prep, created by US math experts covering a range of topics!

Download free