Shapes are everywhere! An early step in understanding letters and numbers is to recognise their shape. First of all children need to learn the shapes, then they use observational skills to compare the shapes and then they will learn the properties of shapes.

The first shape to teach is a circle and then a square. I have a link to a couple of helpful YouTube video on shapes which are worth watching first – see the useful resources page here.

Stage One

  • When looking at books point to the different shapes and patterns.
  • Sort a selection of objects, making sure all of the same shape are altogether.
  • Teach them about a circle and explain that it’s round.
  • Gather every day objects in the shape of a circle to show them.
  • Go on a circle hunt around your home and make a pile of your findings.
  • Draw a circle and your child can use cotton buds and paint over your circle.
  • Go outside and gather leaves and make them into a circle.
  • Place circles into a sand pit and your child can play with them.
Foam Mats

We used our foam mats to make a cube and cuboid, big enough for my youngest to fit inside!

Fine motor skills, problem solving and mathematics all in one!

Stage Two

  • Create sorting hoops out of string or ribbon and give them every day items to sort into the different rings (see the photo above).
  • Introduce square, triangle and rectangle.
  • Start to mention how many sides the shapes have.
  • Go on a shape hunt where your child has to spot the shapes. How many can they find?
  • Use cotton buds, straws or lollipop sticks to make a square, circle, rectangle and triangle.
  • Make a shape collage using different shaped card.

Stage 3

  • Encourage your child to count the sides of the shapes and use the language of ’round’ for circles.
  • Discuss the different shapes in their play and sort shapes into different categories eg: shapes with straight sides, round shapes, shapes with 4 sides etc.
  • Create shape pictures using different shaped card, eg: when making a house – a triangle for the roof, rectangle for the door and squares for the windows.
  • Go on a shape hunt around you house and record your answers.
  • Start to introduce 3D solid shapes – a sphere and cube and show your child using every day objects.
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