How to Teach Shapes to Preschool and Kindergarten Kids

Boy tracing shapes on a paper

According to research 85% of brain development occurs by age 5. Around the age of 2-3 you’ll notice your child is growing in some areas like their symbolic thinking ability, while reasoning logically comes later.  

This means children in this age range can use their imagination to make a paper towel tube into a telescope, or imaginatively use a banana as a telephone showcasing their intuition thinking over logic. Complex concepts based on logic like differentiating between shapes can be more difficult to grasp at this time. But learning doesn’t need to be stressful! For example, using a learning kit, can help break down new and complex concepts for your children in a fun and engaging way. 

Start by teaching your little one the names of circles, triangles, squares, and rectangles to nudge them towards being able to remember and identify them on their own. Next, introduce them to the same shapes that exist in the world around them - a slice of pizza is a triangle, a clock is a circle, and a book is a rectangle. This will help them connect these abstract concepts to real objects they’ll encounter each day. Ask your child to find similar objects with a shape hunt to reinforce the information and balance learning and play, and to strengthen their memory and familiarity with these shapes.  

Kids between the ages of three and five can also practice differentiating between shapes by drawing them. With a marker, crayon, or colored pencil in hand, prompt your little one to share their understanding of what makes each shape unique. For example, do they need to lift their pencil to draw a circle? How many sides do they draw on a triangle? While your child may use their own amusing expressions to describe the characteristics of certain shapes, make sure you positively reinforce any insight they share.  

Kids playing on triangle monkey-bars outdoors

You can also take creative steps to make the learning process more interesting.Take the lesson outdoors to find shapes in real-world objects as you help your child make logical connections and remember shapes. Take the lesson outdoors to find shapes in as you help your child make logical connections and remember shapes. Go to the park or the playground to identify shapes in real life. There, you  can prompt your child to identify the circular fountain or hula hoop, or the triangular shape of a street sign. Once they have a good understanding of the basic shapes, you can start introducing your child to other shapes like hexagons, semi-circles, rhombuses, parallelograms, and trapeziums.

Around the age of five, you can start introducing 3D shapes to your child. While you introduce 2D shapes by naming features of each shape like sides and vertices, when it comes to teaching 3D shapes, use what your child has already learned about 2D shapes and add in the concept of flat versus solid shapes. Real world examples are your best friends when it comes to comparing 2D and 3D shapes: while a balloon is a flat circle, when it’s blown up, it can become a sphere; a piece of paper is a flat rectangle, but a thick book is a 3D rectangle; a tortilla chip is a (mostly) flat triangle, but a prism that can reflect light and make a rainbow is a 3D triangle. While it can be confusing at first, learning about 3D shapes can bring a new dimension of learning into your child’s life!  

Parents can also use building activities using wooden shapes to help children discover new ways to associate flat and solid shapes. Creative activities like these will deepen their understanding of shapes and help them identify key differences. Using simple shape song can also be a quick and fun way to learn and recall important information and practices. But make sure that these songs don’t get too bogged down with information, or they become less fun. Adding or supporting music with these songs helps with engagement and memory.

Cube, Cube, you look like a dice/ roll with me! Cone, Cone, you look like a party hat/ dance with me! Sphere, Sphere you look like a ball/ bounce with me!

is that can help with 3D shape association along with fun body movements.

Try out the above activities, songs, and games to strengthen your little one’s memory and knowledge of shapes and to make a somewhat tricky learning process smoother and more fun. Shapes are all around and helping your child learn more about them will enrich not only their mind but their world!

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