Almost every day, we interact with shapes. Whether it's the square tiles on the floor or the circles in our coffee cups, shapes are all around us. And while most of us don't give them a second thought, for young children, shapes can be a great way to start learning about math and geometry. Not only will they learn more about their world, but shape learning also lends itself to many other areas of learning. So how can you help your child start thinking and talking about shapes? Read on for some tips!
The Importance of Shape Learning
Shapes are an essential part of mathematics. In fact, research has shown that children as young as three can learn basic shapes and geometry concepts. Helping your toddler or preschooler think and talk about shapes is important for several reasons. For one, it helps create a foundation for future learning and provides them with an advantage in many other areas of learning as well. Shape learning is a significant skill that lends itself to fundamental literacy, math, and science concepts that children will encounter throughout their schooling. Shape learning also helps children develop spatial awareness and problem-solving skills. For example, when your child is trying to fit shapes into a hole, they are using spatial reasoning to figure out how to make it work. This is a skill that will come in handy later in life when they encounter more complex problems.
Shapes are also the building blocks of mathematics. By helping your child think and talk about shapes, you are laying the foundation for their future math education. In addition, shape activities for toddlers and preschoolers can help improve fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Helping your child think and talk about shapes at an early age has many benefits that will have a profound impact on their education in the early years.
How to Encourage Your Child to Think and Talk About Shapes
Now that you know why shapes are so important, let's discuss some tips on how to build this important knowledge. Here are 5 ways you can encourage your young learner to think and talk about shapes:
1. Read Books
One way to encourage your child to think and talk about shapes is through books. There are many children's books that focus on shapes, so find a few that your child enjoys and read them together. Books are always a great way to introduce new concepts in a fun and engaging way. You and your young learner can read shape books then talk about the shapes you see on each page. As they get more familiar with the shapes, you can start asking them questions about them, such as "What color is this shape?" or "How many sides does this shape have?" Here's a few shape books that you and your kiddo may enjoy:
- The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns
- Mouse Shapes by Ellen Stoll Walsh
- My Very First Book of Shapes by Eric Carle
- Skippyjon Jones Shape Up by Judy Schachner
- Ship Shapes by Stella Blackstone
And these next 4 books are definitely favorites as they not only teach kids about shapes, but also feature diverse characters! #representationmatters
- City Shapes by Diana Murray
- Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes by Hen Khan
- Round is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Thong
- Round Is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Greenfield Thong
2. Point Out Shapes in Your Environment
Encouraging your toddler or preschooler to look for shapes in their everyday life is another great way to get them thinking and talking about shapes. For example, shapes can be found in the clouds, on a piece of paper, or in a building. While you're out and about, point out different shapes that you see. For example, you can say, "Look at the big circle in the sky. That's the sun!" or "That building is in the shape of a rectangle." You could also go on a shape hunt around your home or your neighborhood and see how many shapes you can find. When you and your kiddo are in the kitchen together, you can even look for shapes in food. For example, you can cut sandwiches into triangles or use cookie cutters to make shapes out of pancakes. All of these are great ways to help your child begin to notice and talk about shapes all around them!
3. Build Shapes
You can also encourage your child to think and talk about shapes by making or building shapes out of everyday objects. For example, you can use blocks to make squares and rectangles or use play dough to make circles and triangles. As you make the shapes, name them and naturally talk about their attributes. You can begin to introduce basic geometry concepts such as sides, vertices (corners) and straight vs. curved. In kindergarten, children will be expected to recognize and name basic shapes, build shapes, compare shapes, and describe shapes by their attributes or characteristics, so it never hurts to expose your child to these concepts and get them a head start on their learning!
4. Sort Shapes
Sorting is a great way to help your child think and talk about shapes. You can sort shapes by their color, size, or type. For example, you can sort all the blue shapes together, all the small shapes together, or all the shapes that have straight lines together. Sorting and classifying, or categorizing, shapes can help young learners begin to understand how they are related to one another. This is also a great skill to practice as it lends itself to future science learning.
Last but not least, don't forget to have fun! Shape learning doesn't have to be all work and no play. Get creative and have fun with it! One of the best ways to encourage your toddler or preschooler to begin thinking and talking about shapes is through play. There are many shapes games available online and in stores, so take your pick! There are also lots of fun shape activities you can do at home. Here are a few ideas:
- Use foam shapes to build towers or houses
- Put together a shape puzzle
- Play "I spy" with shapes
- Have a shape snack party (e.g. square crackers, circle Cheerios, and triangle watermelon)
- Outline shapes with stickers
- Go on a shape hunt
- Have fun with pattern blocks
- Paint shapes
By The Way....Have You Seen our New Shape Puzzles?
Check out our Shape Pals Learning Puzzles! Teach your child shapes and colors with our NEW Shape Pals Learning Puzzles! These adorable 2-piece puzzles will help you introduce your child to the names and characteristics of 12 basic and more complex shapes.
Our unique shape puzzles, perfect for toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners, feature 12 Black and brown shape characters that your kids are sure to love. Created by a teacher, the Shape Pals Learning Puzzles were specifically designed to assist all children in the development of essential early math skills, and help children of color connect to early learning like never before!
So there you have it – five engaging ways you can encourage your toddler or preschooler to think and talk about shapes! Shapes are an essential part of mathematics, and by exposing your child to shapes through play and fun activities, you are setting them up for success in the future!
BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE….
A Free Gift from Us - Our SHAPE SORT FLIP BOOK!
Shape sorting is a great way to get your young learner thinking and talking about shapes! Our FREE Shape Sort Flip Book download includes a flip book for your child to create that features 3 of the shape characters from our Shape Pals Learning Puzzles, along with 9 pictures of everyday items that your child can sort by shape and discuss. Simply color and cut out each of the items, sort them by shape (triangle, square, or circle), and glue them under the correct flap. There is even a spot for your child to practice drawing their own shapes. This shape sorting activity is perfect to use with any toddler, preschooler, or kindergartener (although the little ones will need some extra support!) to get them thinking and talking about shapes!