Learning shapes is an important precursor skill for both math and literacy. Shapes come into play when students learn geometry, of course. But recognizing shapes is also crucial for learning numbers and letters – both of which are really just a different type of shape, if you really think about it.
In my view, teaching shapes to kids is best done through play and everyday life experiences. This can be as simple as pointing out the shape of things in the environment (e.g., “Look at that star on your shirt.” or “Do you want your sandwich cut into rectangles or triangles?”). It can also involve giving children shape sorters and shape puzzles to play with.
As parents and caregivers make shape a salient attribute of the objects in children’s environment, children will naturally begin to notice different shapes and begin to classify them. In reality, it may not be so much that we are teaching shapes to kids, but that are giving them exposure so they can learn about shapes in their own way and in their own time.
I have done a number of activities with my kids to teach them their shapes. Most of the activities I have done can be adapted to teach either basic shapes (e.g., circle, square, triangle) or more advanced shapes (e.g., ellipse, parallelogram, hexagon).
Below is a list of activities for teaching shapes to kids that have been featured at Gift of Curiosity. Click an image to be taken directly to the post related to each activity.