Learning About Shapes for Toddlers and Preschoolers

We have been learning about shapes. In reality, we are constantly working with the kiddos in learning shape identification, whether we realize it or not.

We attempt to incorporate shapes in all aspects of the children’s day. This includes shapes at meal times, indoor and outdoor shape activities, shapes at craft time, and of course shapes at circle time.

It is great and so much easier to have shape crafts and activities planned ahead of time. Sometimes though this is not always the case.

I will share with you some shape activities and crafts that you could put together quickly or plan ahead if you have the time.

There are so many more opportunities to learn about shapes than during activities and crafts. Shapes can be reviewed during any part of the day; meal times and during circle time through visuals such as cards, books and displays.

We go over many of the shapes during circle time. Shapes are displayed on the wall for review. They are large and the kids can see them from pretty much anywhere in the room.

I made them by drawing the shape on card stock then cutting them out. I typed the names of the shapes, printed them on card stock, then cut them to size.

Shape display.

We also ask the children to identify shapes that are on picture cards during circle time. This is one of their favorite things to do during this time. The kids 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. This is a great set. It shows the shapes, but it also shows 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. https://homebaked.blog/2019/04/09/gardening-with-toddlers-preschoolers-and-big-kids-planning-and-preparing/Other foods and objects are also pictured. The backs of the cards indicate how the card can be used in different lessons. They also coordinate with videos and other Baby Einstein products. (I am not affiliated with this product.)

Baby Einstein cards.

Shapes are everywhere, so we often compare the shape card we are looking at to objects around the room that have the same shape. We also point out different shapes throughout the day.

Shape Books

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.

Shape Songs

Shape songs during circle time can also be selected for this and can be sung during a corresponding shape. For example, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star for the star shape. Make New Friends But Keep The Old for the circle shape.

We have a smart TV, so we are able 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” https://www.prekinders.com/shape-songs-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.

Shape Crafts

Corresponding hands on shape crafts and activities are a great way to reinforce what your kiddos are seeing and hearing during circle time.

Here are a couple of Do It Yourself shape crafts that are super easy for the kids to do. How long it will take you to prepare the craft will likely depend on the number of children you are preparing it for or what type of tools you have to create the pieces needed for the craft?

You will need some kind of paper 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.

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 using a glue stick. Color identification can also be incorporated into the lesson.

In the example below we worked on basic shapes. Circle, triangle, square, and rectangle. You can see that I decided to trace a circle for the kids to color.

Quick shape craft.

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. We also added a garden, since we have started our planting and gardening lesson.

I cut out semi circles for the pond and various other shapes to represent different items that one might see on a farm. The kids could build the barn, put together a tree, and a garden. A sample was shown to the children before we started. They were asked about the shape and color of each piece prior to gluing.

Sample of shape craft.

The children enjoyed this craft. They did need a little more help and guidance when compared to the first craft.

Little hands hard at work.

I did cut all of the pieces by hand, but if you have a cutter it may save you some time.

This sticker art activity is also an affordable and easy way to work in a shape activity. https://homebaked.blog/2019/03/31/sticker-art-an-easy-fun-activity/

Shape Activities

Okay, so the epitome of all toddler and preschool activities is playing with clay or modeling dough. You know the stuff.

The fun stuff!

The kids love it, I mean love it!

We go through so much of it that it is a play time staple in our house. We also have a ton of toys or tools that can be used to play with the modeling dough.

For reinforcing the kids knowledge of shapes we utilized a few specific tools.

Supplies: Check!

Rolling Pins, cookie cutters, and cutting tools; such as scissors and tools that slice.

Cutting out shapes.

The children had an opportunity to roll out their modeling dough and use the cookie cutters to cut out the shapes.

Adding a 3-Dimensional element.


I also threw 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. (I am not affiliated with any of these products.)

Squish!

The kids really enjoyed them and used them as molds and containers for their little creations.

“Look at my pyramids Mrs. Brandy!”

Another shape activity that we have recently added is having the kids make shapes with their bodies. They can use their hands and arms to make the shape. The more fun option is to have the kids lie down onto the floor and make the shape with their friends.

The kids really enjoyed this activity!

When the kids are ready one of the adults will take a picture, so the kids can see it. The kids need some help with making the shapes, but it was a lot of fun for all involved.

They seemed to grasp the names of the shapes more quickly, 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. You just need to look at them in a new way.

Breakfast

  • 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.

Lunch

  • 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.

Snacks

  • 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 https://homebaked.blog/2019/04/20/best-and-easy-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!

References:

Cox, Karen. “Shape Songs for Kids” PreKinders, https://www.prekinders.com/shape-songs-kids/

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