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Working on shapes with your kids? Here’s a great shape sorting activity – you’ve got to try it!

I love teaching kids about shapes. There’s just something simple and fun about it, and it’s always been one of my favorites. This shape sorting activity has been a staple in my life for almost a decade now – because it’s that good.

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What you need to know about teaching shapes.

The thing with teaching kids about shapes is that often we show kids a flat representation of the shape and work on them memorizing how it looks.

Once they can spout off the names of a few shapes, we think it’s done. They know their shapes!

But actually, that’s just the beginning.

There are TWO keys to teaching shapes.

    1. Kids need to recognize shapes in their environment, to recognize that a clock is a circle or a table is made of rectangles. The more we can expose kids to identifying shapes in their environment, the more well-rounded their understanding of shapes becomes.
    2. Attributes: memorizing how a shape looks is the base of learning shapes. The next level is attributes – being able to describe why something is a shape or the specific characteristics of a shape.

      Understanding that a square has 4 sides, 4 points, and each side is the same is a BIG skill and one that we have to teach our children. They need to know why and what shapes are.

Here’s how this shape sorting activity teaches those skills

This simple shape sorting activity is easy to set up but packs a big learning punch.


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  • Painter’s tape
  • Random toys / objects from around the house

I grabbed my 3-year-old for this activity. First, we made a circle, square, and triangle on the carpet. Please forgive the terrible circle I made. It worked for us (wink).

I went through the family room toys and the kitchen searching for items that were square, circle or triangular. It didn’t take long before I had a mountain of objects to work with.

How did I teach this shape sorting activity?

We first started by tracing the outline of each shape and talking about the attributes.

“This is a triangle. It has three sides and three points.”

Then she started sorting.

While she sorted, I stayed close and asked questions – good questions, the kinds that need more than a yes or no answer.

“How did you know that yo-yo was a circle?”

“Why didn’t you put that book in the triangle?”

This is about going deep with our knowledge of shapes

We want our children to go beyond the surface, to move past simple memorizing, and to really know and own their learning / knowledge.

By taking shapes off the paper and into the real world, we give our kids the chance to dig deep with shapes and expand their understanding even more.

When will you build a shape sorting activity?