Teaching Shapes to Toddlers and Preschoolers
Teaching shapes to toddlers and preschoolers is a great way to start laying your child’s academic foundation.
Not only that.
We are constantly working with the kiddos in learning shape identification, whether we realize it or not.
And I bet you are too!
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During our day, we attempt to incorporate shapes in all aspects.
Including teaching shapes at meal times, indoor and outdoor shape activities, shapes at craft time, and shapes at circle time.
Of course, it is great and so much easier to have shape crafts and activities ready ahead of time, but sometimes this is not always the case.
I’ll share with you some shape activities and crafts that you can put together quickly or plan ahead of time.
There are so many more opportunities to teach about shapes than during activities and crafts.
We can review with our children during any part of the day including; meal times, during circle time through visuals with the use of cards, books, and displays.
Circle time is a great opportunity for this.
Cut outs of shapes can be displayed on the wall for review. Make sure the shapes are large and that the kids can see them from pretty much anywhere in the room.
Shape displays can be made by drawing the shape on card stock then cutting them out. They can printed out with the name of the shape typed on them. Name cards can also be handwritten.
Teach Shapes to Toddlers and Preschoolers at Circle Time
Do this by asking the children to identify shapes that are on picture cards during circle time.
Identifying shapes with cards is one of the kids favorite things to do during this time.
They really love telling us what they know.
The picture cards that we use are part of a Baby Einstein’s set that I found at a garage sale.
It’s a great set.
They show the shapes, but they also show other objects that are the shape.
For Example, there is a card with an oval then there is also a card with a watermelon. The cards are meant to be used interchangeably. We are able to use the cards for shapes, as well as, identifying fruits and vegetables which is part of our ongoing gardening lesson.
Other foods and objects are also pictured on the cards. Information of the back of each of the cards indicate how the card can be used in different lessons, but they also coordinate with videos and other Baby Einstein products.
Shapes are everywhere, so compare the shape card you are looking at to objects around the room that have the same shape.
Point out different shapes throughout the day.
Books about shapes are another great way to to expose your kiddos to the shapes they are learning.
Many of my shape books have come from our public library or our private collection. You really can’t go wrong with age appropriate shape books.
Interacting with the children and encouraging them to tell the reader the shape is another way to build the child’s knowledge about the shapes being presented.
Preschoolers can sing shape songs during circle time. Songs about each corresponding shape is a fun way to encourage shape recognition.
For example, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star for the star shape.
Make New Friends But Keep The Old for a circle.
You can use a smart TV or other device, to search shape songs for kids.
There are so many videos of songs to choose from, but one of our favorite videos is Kids TV Nursery Rhymes and Baby Songs. “Shape Song.” I also found a great list of songs at PreKinders “Shape Songs for Kids” .
Both of these are videos, but they can be played so the kids are listening and not watching a video if you would prefer to limit screen time.
Corresponding hands on shape crafts and activities are a great way to reinforce what your children are seeing and hearing during the day.
Here are a couple of Do It Yourself shape crafts that are super easy to put together and for the kids to complete.
The time needed to prepare materials for the craft will depend upon the number of children who will be completing the craft, as well as, the type of tools you have to create the pieces needed for the craft,
Paper will be needed for both crafts.
I like to use construction paper, especially, when the children will not be coloring. It provides some additional color to the children’s work.
Shape Craft 1
For the first shape craft, cut out different shapes of various colors and sizes ahead of time.
They don’t have to be perfect.
This craft is a great way for the kids to practice naming the shape(s) and use a glue stick.
Color identification can also be incorporated into the craft.
Basic shapes were taught in this particular craft.
Circle, triangle, square, and rectangle.
Tracing circles and other shapes for the kids to color can add another element to their shape activity.
Shape Craft 2
The second craft involves a bit more preparation and imagination on your part.
You can also refer to a picture or work of art for inspiration.
We were inspired by a lovely farm with a barn and a pond for our shape craft this time. Adding a garden, since we have started our planting and gardening lesson.
Cut out semi circles for the pond and various other shapes to represent different items that one might see on a farm.
Have the kids build a barn, put together a tree, and a garden.
Show a sample before starting.
Ask the children about the shape and color of each piece prior to gluing.
The children really enjoyed this craft.
More assistance and guidance was needed on this craft.
This sticker art activity is also an affordable and easy way to work in a shape activity.
Okay, so the epitome of all toddler and preschool activities is playing with clay or modeling dough.
You know the stuff!
Kids love it, I mean love it!
Play dough Activity
We go through so much of it that it is a play time staple in our house.
Utilize toys or tools that can be used to play with the modeling dough.
For reinforcing the kids knowledge of shapes we used a few specific tools.
Rolling Pins, cookie cutters, and cutting tools; such as scissors and tools that slice.
Give the children an opportunity to roll out their modeling dough and use the cookie cutters to cut out the shapes.
Throw in some three-dimensional shapes; some hard (geometric solids) and some hollow (view thru geometric shapes). The hollow ones are typically used when looking at how much of something can go in them or measuring volume.
“Look at my pyramids Mrs. Brandy!”
I Can Be A Shape Activity
Another shape activity that you can add to your shape activity list is have the kids make shapes with their bodies.
Have the kids use their hands and arms to make the shape.
A more fun option is to have the kids lie down onto the floor and make the shape with their friends.
When the kids are ready one of the adults will take a picture, so the kids can see it. Some children may need some help with making the shapes, but it is a lot of fun for all, too.
We have found that the kids also grasp the names of the shapes more quickly making shapes with their body as well.
Shape Sample Menu
It is easy to forget that shapes are just about everywhere.
Another way to incorporate shape recognition practice is during meal times.
Meal options are flexible and easy to put together. You may already make and serve many of these things. Just look at them in a new way.
- Biscuits (circle) served with strawberry hearts.
- Toast with peanut butter (square or triangle) served with grapes (oval).
- Some cereals are round and can be another easy option.
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich (square or rectangle) served with cottage cheese. Celery slices (arch) and apple slices (semi-circle).
- Homemade Chicken noodle soup made with rectangle cut noodles and carrot slices (circle).
- Sandwiches are also a great way to use your cookie cutters. There are so many shape cookie cutters to choose from.
- Cantaloupe slices (arch) served with graham crackers (square or diamond)
- Crackers and Colby Jack cheese slices (square) served with tomato slices (circle)
- Cheese cubes and blueberry spheres
Your options are limitless!
Baking with your kiddos is another great opportunity for learning shapes.
Use cups or shape cookie cutters to make the shapes you are learning.
Here is a link to our go to Sugar Cookie Recipe
I hope that you will find the activities, crafts and information helpful.
Whether you are a part of a daycare, school, or stay home with your little one’s, there is always an opportunity to go over SHAPES!
Let us know if you have any fun ways of teaching your kids shapes. We would love to hear about them.
Teaching Shapes to Toddlers and Preschoolers
Cox, Karen. “Shape Songs for Kids” PreKinders, https://www.prekinders.com/shape-songs-kids/
Originally published: August 3, 2019
Updated: January 15, 2020