Shape recognition is one of the earliest math concepts that preschoolers learn. In fact, learning to identify shapes supports not just future math skills, but visual perception, reading, science and logic! You can encourage preschoolers' development with these fun shape activities.
When you are looking for some good activities and ideas for teaching shapes at home or for preschool lesson plans, fit these easy, playful learning activities, shape games and geometry-learning ideas into your schedule. They also work when you want to teach shapes to toddlers or are looking for shapes activities for kindergarten.
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Explore Pattern Blocks
Pattern blocks come in lots of different shapes and sizes. We love this wooden pattern block set from Melissa and Doug. While kids can certainly use the block to build the preset designs, they are also excellent shapes for further exploration.
Use the pattern blocks to make free form shapes, sort them or create repeating patterns. One fun way is to get out a muffin tin and watch how preschoolers arrange the shapes inside the constraints of the muffin tin cavities.
Felt Pattern Shapes
Repetition and creating patterns is a great activity for building pre-math skills. Felt shapes are an excellent (and quiet!) alternative to wooden or plastic blocks. Plus, you can make a set of felt shapes for patterning at home! Cut shapes like circles, triangles, and squares from different colored sheets of felt. Make as many different varieties as you want!
View our explorations of color and shape patterning with felt here on the blog.
3D Shape Hunt
Remember that classic shape game where kids drop blocks through the correspondingly shaped slot in a big box? This 3D and 2D shape matching game is a similar concept. Teach children about the relationship between three dimensional shapes and their two dimensional counterparts with our 2D and 3D shape matching and sorting activity. Kids hunt for shapes, identify, sort and match blocks with a pictorial representation.
DIY Shape Book
With the free printable template, preschoolers can construct their own cut-out shape booklet. When the book is completed, children will observe how the shapes relate to one another, learning the concept of relative size. The creative process can double as an art project. See our process and grab the template here.
Educators versed in Montessori will be familiar with the blue constructive triangles. The good news is that you don't have to go all in on Montessori education in order for your preschoolers to reap the benefits of playful learning using the blue scalene triangles.
See how we made our own triangles from soft foam instead of purchasing the expensive "official" shapes. The right-angled scalene triangles are especially fun to manipulate
Shape Print Art Project
Upcycle objects based on their shapes. For example, lids and bottle caps are circles, and sponges can be cut into squares, triangles and rectangles. Squeeze out paint onto a paper plate and set out large sheets of paper. Children will love pressing the the different shaped objects into the paint and then making prints on paper.
If desired, print shapes in patterns, sorting by shape, size and color.
A geoboard is a classic shape activity in which little hands build different shapes by stretching rubber bands around pegs on a board. Building your own geoboard is very easy with these instructions.
These two shape recognition activities couldn't be easier and you can do them with your little ones when you are out and about. If you find yourself in a waiting room with your preschool-aged child and everyone is getting a bit antsy, pick up the nearest magazine and start to flip through it. Ask your child to point out and name the shapes they see!
Translate the same activity to outdoors. When you are walking through the park your child can be on the lookout for shapes in nature. Is that flower center a circle? Is that leaf an oval? Is the sidewalk made up of squares?