Over the years of teaching young children, it has been amazing to see how quickly little ones pick up geometric concepts and terms. Developmentally, geometric concepts come much more easily to children than numerical concepts. A child’s environment is rich in shapes, beginning with the toys they play with, like building blocks, shape-sorting toys, puzzles, and books. In this way, and your child begins to understand thebasic concepts of geometry and a firm foundation is established for more advanced learning as they age. Young children begin to see relationships in shapes and start to put together ideas of spatial relationships of shapes.
As a parent, you can offer an excellent environment for your child to gain geometric knowledge. Daily discussing shapes in the environment with your children is important to help them develop a mathematical vocabulary. In conversation, use words like: lines, angles, corners, points, height, length, weight, volume, width.
Young children can learn to:
- Recognize and match similar shapes
- Recognize the shapes of real objects in the environment
- Use shapes to make pictures
- Draw and construct shapes
- Name and identify shapes.
Some of the items that would be nice to have to have for teaching geometry:
- Solid geometric shapes
- Pattern blocks and task cards
- Attribute blocks
- Geoboards with rubber bands
- Flannelboard shapes for creating shape pictures
- Rulers for drawing shapes
- Tangram set
- Shape templates and patterns
- Building blocks
In teaching shapes to your young child, it is suggested to focus on one shape at a time. A “shape of the week” could be made exciting for your child. Many of these are activities that can be done each week, using a different shape.
Go on a shape walk- take a walk around your home, your yard, your community. Anywhere you go during the week, have your child point out the focus shape for that week.
Do a Shape Find and make a Shape Book using old magazines and catalogs. Have your child find items in the books and cut them out. Make a book of your Shapecollection, by gluing pictures on the appropriate page of your book. For a language arts activity, have your child write or dictate complete sentences about what was found. For example, if a slice of pizza is found the sentence could be: “A slice of pizza is a triangle.”
Do Shape Rubbings using shapes cut from a variety of textured paper or vinyl. Cut basic shapes from card stock and sand paper. Textured paper can be found at your local hobby/crafting store. Textured vinyl will be sold at fabric shops. Cover the workspace with old newpapers. Place the cut shape on the newspaper. Place a sheet of paper over the textured shape. Using an old crayon with paper removed, color over the shape. If the shape moves while children are rubbing over them, use a small piece of Sticky Tack on the back. Remove for future use.
Point out geometric shapes in Architecture. Take a walk in your town or city. Look at buildings and homes from different styles and eras in history. Find pictures in magazines and on the internet of different buildings. How many different shapes can be found in a building? Can you find one that uses all of the shapes?
Have your child See and Draw. Give your child a dry erase board or a piece of paper. Hold up a Basic Shape Card for 5-10 seconds. Put the card down and ask your child to draw the shape from memory. For a simpler lesson, have the student draw the shape while you are holding it. For more difficult, verbally give placement instructions for the drawing. For example: Draw a circle in the center of your paper. Under the circle draw a square. Draw a triangle to the right of your circle.
Paint shapes by using sponges cut into the basic shapes. Dip the sponges in paint and blot onto paper.
For the child who enjoys feeling different things, the tactile learner, draw shapes in: colored salt, pudding, and sand.
Follow the Shape: Lay out large shapes on the floor or on the ground. Have your child walk around the shape. You may choose to create many shapes and call out the shapes quickly. Your child runs to the shape, walks around the “perimeter” (don’t forget to use those words) and then runs to the next shape. If you have room on a drive, draw them with sidewalk chalk. On the drive or in the yard, duct tape works. Painter’s tape willwork on most floors.
Sparkle shapes can be made by using glitter glue and tracing around shapes. Make sure you are having conversation with your child about the shape being drawn. Point out lines, angles (or lack thereof,) points, etc.
Shape art: Use precut shapes or pattern blocks and allow your child to make a picture. You can make large, bright shapes from old wrapping paper, wall paper, scrapbook paper, etc. If you would like to make your own set of “Pattern Blocks,” use this link and follow printing instructions. For durability, laminate the blocks before cutting them apart. There are some wonderful pattern block picture activities on line. One of the best freeresources is found at Pre-Kinders.
Make a feely box. There are many ways to make a feely box. One of the simplest is to use a “paper box” that reams of paper come in. Cut one hole in the side or two holes in the bottom. With two holes, the child can use both hands. I prefer to attach a cloth on the inside of the hole, to prevent “peeking.” Place a mystery item in the box. The child reaches in and describes what (s)he is feeling. Have the child give verbal details of what is felt, before guessing the shape.
If you like these activities, you can get these plus more in my first publication: “Math Mania: Geometry for Young Learners.” The download book is 68 pages of activities (over 3 dozen), including: file folder game, new shape song and activity, sorting games, work sheets, colorful graph, memory game, and much more. Visit this link in my etsy shop to purchase the download. Only $7.00.
Next Math Mania Post: Patterns!