Ever wonder what it is that inspires curiosity, motivation, and wonder? A hands-on shape activity like this allows preschoolers to discover learning through play. An introduction to 3D shapes has never been better! I’m just over here tooting my own horn with this one. (Nothing like a humblebrag.) But hearing my three-year-old correctly find and identify a cylinder was such a joy. He learned something new, and I watched him soak it up like a sponge. Shape activities for kids can be fun to introduce and learn because we are ditching the worksheets.
Behind the scenes
Does this hands-on shape activity look familiar?
I bet you remember it here when we created Alphabet Poke.
My philosophy? When something works, run with it. We may often see a setup and know we can get a few more miles out of it. I changed the letters for 3D shapes this time, and we were off to the races!
Craving a calmer morning?
Breakfast Invitations are simple learning games to begin the day with play.
Toddlers can learn shapes
My three-year-old was recalling and recognizing 3D shapes! This caught me by surprise.
My goal here was to introduce 3D shapes such as:
- rectangular prism
I had no idea that after finding the first cylinder, he could remember the name as more cylinders were picked! The key is trying new things. If your child is ready, they will remember. If they are not, you planted the seed and come back again in a few months.
RELATED: I created this fantastic list of math activities for kids so you have everything in one place.
How to teach 3D shapes
Learn a few 3D shapes at a time. I picked only three 3D shapes to introduce at a time. Think less is more. You can play the game the first time, adding cubes, and the second time with more than one 3D shape. There is no rush to learn everything in one day.
PRO TIPS: Shapes are something your child will revisit for years. The goal here is to introduce. Remember, learning anything takes exposure and repetition. There is no rush for mastery on day one.
Why hands-on learning works
Hands-on activities work because they allow children to take risks. When preschoolers are exposed to new ideas, being able to touch objects helps a concept stick as they problem-solve.
- When learning to draw shapes, try this activity called Mystery Shapes.
- Matching shapes is an entertaining way for toddlers to learn one 2D shape at a time.
- Using blocks to build with 3D shapes is an intelligent way to build momentum with play.
All of these shape activities listed above stick because children get a chance to make decisions and touch objects. This teaching method is a lot more useful than a worksheet!
RELATED: Read about the benefits of hands-on learning in this educational article.
I tossed in these jumbo tweezers for some fine motor strength. The objective is to poke through the tissue paper and dig out a 3D shape. These tongs are a great tool to help improve pencil grip! We used them to help break through the paper.
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Here are three supplies you may already have, and I listed them below with links in case you need to restock.
These tweezers by Learning Resources are one of our favorite sensory play tools. They help strengthen fine motor grabbing and squeezing skills.
How to set up
- To set up, I placed one 3D shape in each muffin tin section.
- Cover the muffin tin with tissue paper.
- Add a grid to the right of the activity to place each shape. This grid helps keep thinking organized by giving each shape a final destination.
- As each 3D shape is found, call out the name. Hearing it and saying it will help your preschooler remember!
When will you try this hands-on shape activity? It’s the best!