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Let’s Be Shapes

This is a fun, low preparation activity, that encourages children to take notice of familiar patterns in their everyday environment while focusing on their knowledge of shapes. It can be used for groups of 4-6 children.

What you will need:

• An example of some 2D shapes. Feel free to use the linked TNL posters for this activity! 

• Small post-it notes to cover the names of shapes on the resource.

• A space large enough for the children to move around.

Preparing the activity

Print out and display the “shape examples” resource so that all of the children will be able to see it easily. Place post-it notes over the names of the shapes, or switch between the posters.

Blank Shapes
Labelled Shapes

Doing the activity:

1. Begin by asking the children if they can identify any of the shapes. Get them to count the sides and corners, encouraging them to talk about what the shapes are like. For example, “Which shapes look soft and smooth? Which look pointy and spiky?”.

2. Ask the children if they can spot each shape in the environment around them, “Can anyone see something square-shaped nearby?”, to encourage their confidence with the shape names and their main characteristics. Based on your assessment of the children’s abilities, decide how many shapes to cover. It may be appropriate to try out trickier shapes such as pentagons with some groups, but many will be satisfactorily challenged with the simpler shapes like square and circle.

3. Challenge the children to try and make some of the shapes with their bodies. While it may be necessary to demonstrate this for the children initially, you should take little or no participation in their creation of the shapes – instead, allowing them to work it out on their own.

4. Once the children have got the idea of creating shapes with their bodies, try and play a kind of ‘Simon Says’ game, announcing different shapes for the children to shape themselves as. For example, ‘Simon says…be a square!’.

Tracking the activity

30-50 months

Mathematics: Shape, Space and Measure; “Shows an interest in shape and space by playing with shapes or making arrangements with objects.; Shows awareness of similarities of shapes in the environment.”

40-60+ months

Mathematics: Shape, Space and Measure; “Beginning to use mathematical names for ‘solid’ 3D shapes and ‘flat’ 2D shapes, and mathematical terms to describe shapes.; Selects a particular named shape.”