Shapes are a fun and engaging topic for preschoolers, that provide an important foundation for future mathematical learning. Explore how shapes can be integrated into a STEM curriculum. From shapes in everyday life, to shape art activities and even science, check out these easy to set up shape activities for preschoolers and kindergarten. Plus, make sure to grab the printable shape activities pack at the end!
Why Teach Preschoolers About Shapes?
Learning about shapes is important for preschoolers for several reasons:
Increases Their Vocab
Learning shapes introduces new words into a child’s vocabulary. Describing and talking about shapes helps preschoolers improve their language skills as they learn to express themselves more precisely.
Develops Pre-Math Skills
Recognizing shapes is an early introduction to mathematical concepts. It lays the groundwork for understanding concepts like counting, patterns, and spatial relationships, which are essential in math education.
Promotes Shapes In Art
Shapes are a fundamental component of art and creativity. Understanding shapes enables preschoolers to create more complex and visually appealing artwork.
Shapes In Everyday Life
Shapes are all around us in everyday objects. Learning about shapes helps children make connections between the abstract concept of shapes and the physical world they interact with.
Develops Problem Solving Skills
Understanding shapes also contributes to spatial awareness, which is crucial for tasks like reading maps, following directions, and understanding the arrangement of objects in space.
Manipulating shapes and fitting them into various puzzles or activities enhances a child’s problem-solving skills and encourages them to think creatively about spatial challenges.
Learning about shapes in preschool really does lay the groundwork for a wide range of cognitive, linguistic, mathematical, and creative skills. It is also foundational for later learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Read more about STEM and teaching shapes further on.
Books About Shapes
Here are five shape books perfect for pairing with these shape activities! (I am an Amazon Affiliate)
“Mouse Shapes” by Ellen Stoll Walsh: This interactive book follows three mice as they explore different shapes to escape from a cat. It’s a great way for preschoolers to learn shapes while engaging in a cute story.
“Brown Rabbit’s Shapes” by Alan Baker: Join Brown Rabbit as he discovers shapes in his everyday life, from squares to stars. The colorful illustrations make learning about shapes enjoyable.
“Shape by Shape” by Suse MacDonald: This book combines clever die-cuts with colorful illustrations to explore how shapes can be transformed into various objects and animals.
“Color Zoo” by Lois Ehlert: While not exclusively about shapes, this book introduces animals created from basic geometric shapes. The cut-paper illustrations are vibrant and engaging.
“The Shape of My Heart” by Mark Sperring and Alys Paterson: Follow Little Polar Bear as he explores his world and discovers shapes in unexpected places. The rhythmic text and charming illustrations make it a delightful read.
For more excellent suggestions for book about shapes, see our printable shape worksheet pack at the end!
List of 2D Shapes
Here’s a list of different shapes along with simple descriptions that you can use to teach kids about two dimensional or 2D shapes.
Circle: A circle is a round shape with no corners or edges. It looks like the outline of a ball or a plate.
Square: A square has four equal sides and four right angles. All its sides are the same length, and it looks like a box or a piece of paper.
Triangle: A triangle has three sides and three angles. It can have different types, like equilateral (all sides are the same length), isosceles (two sides are the same length), or scalene (all sides are different lengths).
Rectangle: A rectangle has four sides with opposite sides being equal in length and all angles being right angles. It looks like a stretched-out square.
Oval: An oval is like a stretched-out circle. It has curved sides but no corners or edges.
Hexagon: A hexagon has six sides and six angles. It’s like a stop sign with six equal sides.
Pentagon: A pentagon has five sides and five angles. It’s like a house with a slanted roof.
Star: A star has many points, and it can vary in the number of points it has. It can look like the shape you draw when you connect the dots of a star in the sky.
Heart: A heart shape is often associated with love. It has two rounded parts at the top and comes together at a point at the bottom.
Diamond/Rhombus: A diamond (also called a rhombus) has four equal sides, but its angles are not right angles. It looks like a tilted square.
Crescent: A crescent is a shape that looks like a curved moon. It’s like a circle with a chunk missing.
How To Teach Shapes With STEM
Teaching preschoolers about shapes can be directly connected to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education. Here are some ideas for how to teach shapes to young kids using the components of STEM education.
- Encourage preschoolers to explore their environment and find objects that match specific shapes. This fosters observation skills and scientific inquiry.
- Help children recognize patterns created by repeating shapes. Patterns are a fundamental concept in science and math.
- Discuss shapes found in nature, such as the shapes of leaves, flowers, and animals. This connects shapes to the natural world and promotes curiosity.
- Use interactive apps or digital games that teach shapes through touchscreen activities. This introduces technology while enhancing shape recognition.
- Some online platforms offer virtual manipulatives that allow kids to interact with shapes and build structures.
- Provide building materials like blocks, straws, and connectors and let kids construct shapes and structures. This encourages hands-on engineering skills.
- Present challenges like “build a tower using only triangular blocks” to engage children in engineering thinking.
- Shapes are a fundamental aspect of geometry. Use shape recognition games, puzzles, and activities to introduce basic geometric concepts.
- Have children sort objects by shape, creating opportunities for classification and mathematical thinking.
- Manipulating and combining shapes helps develop spatial awareness and understanding, which is essential for mathematics.
By integrating shape learning with STEM, preschoolers can develop a holistic understanding of how shapes play a role in various aspects of their world. This approach lays a strong foundation for future STEM education while making learning engaging and meaningful.
Helpful STEM Resources
Here are a few resources that will help you introduce STEM more effectively to your kiddos or students and feel confident yourself when presenting materials. You’ll find helpful free printables throughout.
- Engineering Design Process Explained
- What Is An Engineer?
- Engineering Words
- Questions for Reflection (get them talking about it!)
- BEST STEM Books for Kids
- 14 Engineering Books for Kids
- Jr. Engineer Challenge Calendar (Free)
- Must Have STEM Supplies List
25 Fun Shape Activities
Check out these easy hands-on ways for kids to learn about shapes.
Go On A Shape Hunt
Turn shape recognition into a treasure hunt by searching for objects of different shapes around the house or in nature. Kids can match found objects to shape cards.
Provide a collection of toys or objects in various shapes and colors. Encourage children to sort them into corresponding categories based on the type of shape they are.
Trace Around Shapes
Give kids shape templates or stencils along with crayons or markers. They can trace the outlines to strengthen fine motor skills and reinforce shape knowledge.
Create A Shape Collage
Gather magazines, colored paper, and glue. Kids can cut out shapes and arrange them into a creative collage.
Play With Shape Puzzles
Craft simple puzzles by cutting shapes out of cardboard and have kids match the pieces to the corresponding shapes on a board.
Homemade Shape Stamps
Transform everyday objects like sponges or bottle caps into stamps. Dip them in paint and create shape patterns on paper. See our art activity with shape stamps.
Utilize a flashlight to cast shadows of toys onto a surface. Challenge kids to identify the shapes based on the shadows. Check out more shadow activities for preschoolers.
Incorporate shape learning into the kitchen by using cookie cutters to make shape-themed treats. Or cut fruit like watermelon into shapes for a yummy treat!
Venture outdoors to collect leaves, sticks, and stones. Use these natural items to create shapes on the ground, blending art with nature.
Outdoor Chalk Shapes
Head outside with sidewalk chalk (here’s how you can make your own) and draw various shapes on the ground. Preschoolers can hop from shape to shape, reinforcing shape recognition.
Share picture books that feature shapes. Encourage kids to identify shapes within the illustrations. See our list of shape books above.
Shape Scavenger Hunt
Create a list of shapes for kids to find in their surroundings. They can check off each shape as they spot it.
Make Shape Puppets
Craft paper bag puppets with shape features like triangle noses or circular eyes. Kids can engage in imaginative play while reinforcing shape recognition.
Shape Play with Toys
Explore toys specifically designed for shape learning, such as shape sorters, puzzles, and magnetic shape sets.
Use building blocks, Lego, or other construction toys, or even straws and plasticine to build structures using different shapes. This fosters spatial understanding and engineering skills. Check our list of simple building activities.
Collaborative Shape Art
Work together on a large piece of paper to create a collaborative art project using a variety of shapes.
Shape Memory Game
Play a memory game with cards featuring shapes. Kids flip the cards and match pairs of identical shapes.
Shape I Spy
Play “I-Spy” by describing shapes, prompting children to find objects that match the description within their surroundings.
Play Shape Bingo
Develop a shape-themed bingo game. Instead of numbers, children mark off the shapes called out.
Shape Obstacle Course
Set up an obstacle course where each station features shape-related challenges. This promotes physical activity while reinforcing shape recognition.
Shape Songs and Rhymes
Sing songs or chants about shapes to make learning more interactive and memorable.
Create simple shape patterns using different colors and sizes. Extend the pattern and encourage kids to continue the sequence.
Printable Shape Activities Pack
Who’s It For?
Perfect for 3-to 6-year-olds in a preschool classroom, learning center, or home. Easy to set up and use with one kiddo or turn into a center for the classroom. This themed pack includes a book and supply list to help you easily set up the 14 shapes activities.
⭐️ Tip: Grab the Preschool Themes Growing Bundle and save money! ⭐️
- Dot Shapes
- Building Shapes
- Seek and Find
- Shape Printmaking
- Sensory Sorting
- What Shape is it?
- Shapes Crown
- Writing Center
- Tracing Cards
- Board Game
- Matching Game
- Cover Up! Game
- Book List
There are so many fun ways to explore shapes!