Circles and squares and triangles, oh my! From a round Ritz cracker to angular blocks, shapes fill preschoolers’ lives. It makes sense, then, to teach our kids all about shapes. At a recent homeschool preschool I hosted, we did just that, and here I’m sharing my shapes curriculum.
Why learn about shapes?
In fact, shapes form the foundation for later, more advanced skills like writing and math. Learning how to write the letter A, for example, is easier if a child already knows about triangles. And sorting shapes—grouping squares together, say—is a fundamental concept that will later help with math skills.
Children use shapes to sort out the world. (So do adults! You might look for a circle to find a cylinder of Quaker Oats, or recognize four squares as the Microsoft logo.) So learning about shapes gives kids more tools to understand all the information around them.
Finally, understanding shapes widens their vocabulary. You can talk about much more with your kiddos once they have the words to describe the shape of something. (But beware: This skill may make your kids kitchen tyrants—No, Mom, I wanted my sandwich in TRIANGLES!)
A shapes curriculum makes learning fun
Ready to teach your preschooler? Here, then, is our shapes curriculum—a low-pressure, fun, experiential way to learn about shapes.
- Stamping with shapes. I got a variety of foam shapes from the Dollar Store, squirted paint onto plates and let the kids stamp circles, hearts and squares to their heart’s content.
- Shape matching. Cut a big square, rectangle, circle and triangle out of sheets of colored 8.5 x 11 paper. Then cut a whole bunch of the same shapes, only smaller. Kids can pick up the small shapes (a fine motor skill) and place them on the matching large shape. They can do this individually or together (team work!).
- Shape collage. What to do with all those triangles you just cut out? Pass out glue sticks and let the kids make a collage. Older kids may want to use shapes to make a picture—for example, a rectangle plus a triangle can make a house!
- Blocks. Building a tower or a castle helps children understand the shape but also its properties—like the fact a triangle can’t balance on its pointy tip.
- Play dough. Cookie cutters are good for more than just holiday cookies—they’re also a great tool for stamping shapes out of play dough. Don’t limit yourself to cookie cutters, though: Straws can poke tiny circles, and a tupperware lid can make a rectangle.
I wrote about our favorite books about shapes—check these out of the library. We read two books, Round Is A Tortilla and Have You Seen My Monster? at homeschool preschool.
Shape Song and Guessing Activity
I collected a bunch of objects from around the house and stashed them in a bag. The kids took turns pulling one out of the bag. Then we sang this song, to the tune of Do You Know 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 you’re holding in your hand?
Kids will connect the concept of shapes to things they see every day—a ball, an envelope, a sippy cup lid. They’ll also begin to link the idea of a two-dimensional shape with a three-dimensional object, like a block.
For our snack, I served finger foods in common shapes:
- Cucumbers and cherry tomatoes sliced crosswise into circles
- Deli turkey cut into squares
- Ritz crackers as circles
- Cheddar slices cut into triangles
The kids could make their own shape sandwiches or just eat them individually.
What about you—any suggestions for fun ways to learn about shapes I should add to my homeschool preschool shapes curriculum?