I remember taking my three-year-old to the park and my son asking if he could climb through a tunnel to get to the slide. Even though my preschooler didn’t know exactly what to call the tunnel, he pointed to the opening and asked if he could enter the “circle.” I knew exactly what he meant. This was such a cool way of describing his desire to play in the tunnel! Shape activities for preschool are an important part of how young kids gain vocabulary and recognize the shapes they see in their everyday play. We have shapes everywhere in our environment and once we begin chatting about them, shape awareness explodes!
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Shapes are everywhere! And even though young kids are exposed to shapes daily, in and out of the house, it is important to start talking and engaging with these shapes. If you want ideas to help your preschooler learn about shapes, I’m here to help! In this article, I will share my favorite 2D and 3D shape activities for toddlers, preschoolers, and Kindergarteners.
Why is teaching shapes important?
Early exposure to shape recognition is important because shapes make up our environment and surroundings. Shapes are the foundation skill of literacy and math.
Once your baby starts growing into toddlerhood, they suddenly become more curious and aware of their surroundings. As they navigate the world around them, they begin to familiarize themselves with the landmarks around their house. (like that coffee table in the middle of your living room that they keep bumping into, which you’ve been meaning to find a new spot for, wink wink) This is the beginning of shape awareness.
Learning shapes helps preschoolers with:
- Beginning math concepts and ideas
- Language and vocabulary
- Letter recognition
- Number recognition
- Organization skills
- Sorting skills
- Spatial awareness
How do you teach shapes to preschoolers?
Shape activities for preschool need to be hands-on and spark curiosity. Introduce shapes to your preschoolers by helping them to identify these basic shapes:
There is so much to learn and know about shapes. But let’s keep that for high school geometry class. Shape learning for preschoolers should be kept simple. Learning is always more fun when it is play based. As your toddler asks questions, mention terms such as sides and vertices without expecting mastery. Incorporating shape books for preschoolers into your home library is also another win!
What activities can you do with shapes?
As your preschooler works on developing their shape awareness and recognition, they will become more confident. But remember, as always, keep their learning fun! Here are 13 shape activities for preschoolers.
13 2D shape activities for preschool
There are so many ways to play, sort, build and learn with shapes using these shape activities for preschool!
- Color and Shape Match: a Toddler Math Activity – A fun and simple color and shape matching activity that introduces math concepts right on your refrigerator!
- Craft Stick Shape Match – Build fine motor skills, sorting, matching, and shape recognition.
- Cutting Lines; Preschool Scissor Practice – Follow this simple activity to help your preschooler improve their cutting skills and shape knowledge.
- Fly In Your Shapes – Toddler Shape Matching – Get your toddler moving with this active shape-matching and sorting activity.
- Gruffalo-Themed Shape Animals (The Educators’ Spin On It) – Create cute and silly simple shape animals using construction paper and glue.
- Magnetic Tile Sticker Puzzle – Stickers and puzzles are such a fun way to mix up and challenge your preschooler’s shape learning – this activity combines both!
- Make a Tortilla Shape Snack (Pre-K Pages) Your toddler will love making their own snack while learning with this fun and yummy shape activity.
- Mega Bloks Tetris – Your preschooler will build, puzzle, think, and play with this creative block activity.
- Mystery Shapes; a Fine Motor Activity – This shape idea combines counting, drawing, shape recognition, and a little mystery in this engaging activity while strengthening their fine motor skills.
- Shape Dig: a Hands-On Shape Activity – A fantastically fun and engaging activity that will keep your preschooler interested as they use tongs or other simple tools to strengthen their fine motor skills.
- Shape Graph for Preschool – Another simple yet stimulating shape-sorting activity that can be set up in less than a minute!
- Shape People; a Toddler Counting Activity – Draw simple silly shape figures for your toddler to decorate with sticker eyes as they match and count.
- Shape Pictures – A Fun Shape Activity for Preschoolers – Create simple, colorful shapes that mimic shapes found in the Mouse Shapes book by Ellen Stoll Walsh.
- Sorting by Shapes – This sorting shapes activity is about as simple as it gets, but it will keep your preschooler busy and engaged as they find everyday shapes around your house.
- Watercolor Shape Painting – Integrate painting, creativity, and shapes with this easy and colorful watercolor shape painting activity.
5 3D shape activities for preschool
From messy shaving cream to playing games, there are many simple and fun ways to introduce 3D shape activities to kids.
- 3D Bubble Shapes Activity (Little Bins Little Hands): A fun outdoor activity where your child will build 3D bubble wands to create incredible 3D bubble shapes!
- 3D Shape Book List for Littles Learning (Pocket Full of Preschool): An easy-to-read book list to spark conversations about shapes with toddlers and preschoolers.
- Kindergarten Shape Build: A fun STEM activity that challenges their creativity to build 3D shapes using various building materials.
- 3D Shape Dig: A hands-on shape activity with curiosity, motivation, and surprise!
- 3D Shapes Graphing Game (Gift of Curiosity): Introduce graphing, sorting, and organizing to your preschooler with this simple 3D shape game.
- 3D and 2D Shape Sorting Activity for Kids (What Do We Do All Day?): Another fun way to simply sort and organize 3D shapes using all those building blocks you have lying around.
- Shapes and Shaving Cream: Let your kids build 3D shapes, towers, and buildings with this messy sensory activity, using shaving cream as glue with foam blocks.
- DIY Tinker Toys (Hands on as we Grow): Use marshmallows and straws to create 3D shapes.
Looking for more ideas to help develop shape recognition?
- 12 Sticker Activities
- 50 Math Activities for Preschoolers
- 101+ Preschooler Activities
- Play Ideas for Magnetic Tiles
- Stem Toys for Kids
Shape Book List (favorites!)
Here are some of my favorite books about shapes. We have loved and read them for years!
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This classic book about shapes will not disappoint. It inspired this creative preschool shape activity.
Square (The Shapes Trilogy)
Curious how a square spends his day? You will be now with this genius book about cubes and squares. Simplistic delight!
In the Wild Paint by Sticker
This is a great sticker book to encourage shape building to create a design.
Learn shapes through play!
Shapes are all around us. Introducing and teaching your preschooler about shapes is simple, fun, and a great way to keep your child engaged. Whether you simply talk about the shapes you see at the playground or spend a few minutes setting up an activity, shapes are an easy early concept to involve your preschooler in their surroundings. Try out some shape activities for preschoolers to get them excited about learning!
Shapes are everywhere! It’s never too soon to start talking to your toddler and preschooler about the shapes around them. Begin the conversation by discussing what shapes they see at home, at the playground or even out of the car window. Use these activities for kids to inspire play and learning at home.
There are so many ways to teach shapes to preschoolers. Start with a conversation. Talk about what they see in their familiar environments. Reading books is another great way to develop shape recognition. And of course, there are countless shape activities for preschoolers that help to develop shape knowledge, fine motor skills, and sorting skills.
There are so many different ways to develop shape recognition for preschoolers. From crafts, to building, to sensory, there’s something for every preschooler’s interest, preference, and learning style.