Learning About Shapes

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Here are some basic theme ideas for helping preschool-aged children learn about shapes.

Shape Songs and Fingerplays

Shape Song
Cynthia Circle, Cynthia Circle is nice and round
No corners on her are ever found.
Samuel Square, Samuel square that's my name.
I have four sides that are all the same.
Tilly triangle, Tilly triangle is here to see you.
She has three sides and three points too.
Ricky Rectangle Ricky rectangle is a funny sort
Two sides are long and two sides are short

Do You Know (Tune: The Muffin Man)
Do you know what shape this is,
What shape this is, what shape this is?
Do you know what shape this is
I'm holding in my hand?
(Hold up different shape each time you sing the song)

How Can You Tell (Tune: Frere Jacques)
This is a square, this is a square,
How can you tell? How can you tell?
It has four sides,
All the same size.
It's a Square, It's a Square.
This is a circle, this is a circle.
How can you tell? How can you tell?
It goes round and round,
No end can be found.
It's a circle, It's a circle.
This is a triangle, this is a triangle.
How can you tell? How can you tell?
It only has three sides,
That join to make three points.
It's a Triangle, It's a triangle.
This is a Rectangle, This is a rectangle.
How can you tell? How can you tell?
It has two short sides
And it has two long sides.
It's a rectangle, It's a rectangle.

Shape Art Activities

Shape Rubbings
Cut familiar out of cardboard and tape them to a table using double-sided tape. Have the children place papers on top of the shapes and rub them with the sides of crayons.

Shape Mural Collage
On large butcher paper, draw the outline of common shapes. Have children look through magazines and cut out pictures of shapes. Let them tape or glue their pictures onto the appropriate shape on the mural.

Shape Math and Science

Shape Bingo
Make a simple Bingo board with shapes. Play Shape Bingo.

Shape Dice
Use our template to make a shape dice. Children roll the dice, and then name the shape it lands on, reinforcing their knowledge of what shapes are called. Variation: Child finds something that shape in the classroom.

Shape Sorting and Patterning
Get some fun shape buttons and have children sort them and make patterns with them.

Shape Motor Skills and Movement

I Spy Shape Game
This is a variation of the "I Spy" game. When a child has a turn they ask the group, "I spy with my little eye, something square (or other shape)," and the group had to guess what they are looking at.

Shape Elimination
Put a different shape in each corner of your classroom (square, circle, rectangle, triangle). Separate your children in four equal groups, and have each group stand in a different corner. Pick one child to hide his eyes and then randomly choose a shape. The students in that shape corner are out of this round of the game. Divide remaining children equally amongst the corners again. Choose one child that has been eliminated and have them call out a shape. Continue this until only one child remains.

Play a classic game of Twister!

Cut out several different shapes (square, triangle, circle, etc.) and tell your children that each one represents a different exercise (jumping jacks, jump up and down, run in place, etc.) When you hold up a shape, they should do corresponding exercise.

Shape Snacks

Cracker Shapes
Serve Cheez-it's, Triscuits (triangle and square), Ritz, etc. and have children name each shape as they eat.

Shape House Sandwich
Use a piece of bread for the square house, half a piece of sliced sandwich cheese in a triangle shape for the roof, a rectangle piece of lunchmeat for the door and circle shaped pickle slices for the windows...or come up with different variations.

Pretzel Stick Shapes
Provide children with pretzel sticks and ask them to make shapes using them (squares, triangles, rectangles).

Read About Shapes

  • Shapes, Shapes, Shapes by Tana Hoban
  • Shapes by Karen Gundersheimer
  • The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns
  • Round Is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes Roseanne Thong
  • The Shape of Things Dayle Ann Dodds

Other Shape Resources