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Shapes & Sorting

Shapes & Sorting


Learning to recognize and name shapes is one of the first early math skills that children learn and provides a basis for math concepts in geometry and algebra. Sorting is another important skill for children to learn because it helps kids recognize and differentiate objects based on different characteristics. Both skills are easy for parents to help their children practice. You can use cookie cutters to make shape sandwiches and snacks and look for shapes all around the house and neighborhood. Point out road signs that are different shapes and even flowers and plants that have different shaped petals and leaves. When learning how to sort things, shapes are a great place to start.  Using shapes cut from paper, kids can put the same shapes together and then sort them by size too (big triangles, little triangles). When playing with colored building blocks, sort the blocks by color and then have fun building things using just one color for each creation.

Try these activities to have fun with shapes and sorting together:

  • Animal Shapes–Create different animals using pieces of paper cut into different shapes. For example, your child can create a caterpillar by gluing circles next to each other on a piece of paper to form the body and head and drawing a face, antennae, and legs. Or help your child make a penguin by using one large oval for the body and 4 smaller ovals as the flippers and feet. Experiment with different shapes to make all kinds of animals. Kids can also make up their own animals and give them silly names.
  • Shape Mosaic–Cut out several different types of shapes from colored construction paper. The shapes can be big or little and there should be many of each shape in many different colors. Then, have your child glue the shapes onto a blank piece of paper to create a mosaic design. As your child’s creating the design, talk about the shapes and how they fit together.
  • Shape Scavenger Hunt–On a piece of paper, draw 10 different shapes (circle, star, oval, square, rectangle, triangle, heart, octagon, diamond, crescent) and have your child search around the house or outside to find objects that match the shapes, marking each shape with a crayon when he finds a match. For example, a television is a rectangle and a banana is a crescent.
  • Button Sorting–Household items like buttons are great for practicing sorting since they come in all different shapes, colors, and sizes. You can collect extra buttons that you have at home or buy an assortment from a craft or sewing store. Your child can then practice sorting them by putting together buttons that are the same color, same size, and same shape (round vs. not round). Ready for a challenge? Try sorting by other characteristics like the number of holes in the button or whether they are shiny or dull.