Sorting by Shapes is a hands-on math activity!
Take a quick look around your house, and yep! You guessed it. Your home is filled with shapes. Two and three-dimensional shapes are just about everywhere you look. Sorting by shapes is ready to take off!
So let’s take something our preschooler sees and uses and add math and vocabulary skills to learn through play.
Why? Because learning within our environment where children are already invested helps make it stick. Simply put, we remember what we enjoy.
RELATED: Math activities for toddlers and preschoolers need to include movement. – These ideas do just that!
Sorting by shapes is simple (and fun)
This afternoon we picked tomatoes from our sad garden. (send me your kids, not your plants)
As my five-year-old was anxious to take a bite, he asked me to hand him the “circle” one.
Whoops! My radar showed that we could begin discussing spheres a little more in our day-to-day conversations.
“Sure thing! One tomato sphere coming right up!” I said.
We can toss in new or forgotten vocabulary without correcting a child or doing worksheets. Since it was casual and inviting, his guard was down and open to hearing why the tomato was a sphere.
RELATED: Pencil grip meets shapes with this preschool activity.
Start with two three-dimensional shapes
Sometimes we can feel everything needs to be shown right off the gate.
We hear three-dimensional shapes, so we whip up an activity that is filled with cubes, cones, spheres, and rectangle prisms.
But what if we pumped the breaks just a bit?
Remember, the same most popular Breakfast Invitations can be used for a few days making each day a little different.
For now, let’s pick two three-dimensional shapes. Once mastered, we can add another to make three!
RELATED: Like sensory play? Don’t miss Shapes and Shaving Cream!
Here is how you sort shapes
First, begin to think about which shapes have sides and which shapes have curves.
In this case, our spheres have curves, and the cubes have straight sides and flat surfaces.
Some activities even sort two-dimensional shapes from three-dimensional shapes. In this case, preschoolers look at which shape is flat vs. which shape they can hold.
Use this outline when sorting by shape.
- Faces – flat surfaces
- Edges – where the faces meet
- Vertices – corners
- Base – bottom of the face of the shape
We played with spheres and cubes
I chose these two shapes because they were the most common shapes in our home.
My goal with this math activity is to increase my child’s vocabulary and remind him about common three-dimensional shapes we have in our environment.
For this activity, I chose spheres and cubes.
Roll out the paper! It’s time to sort the shapes
You know we really enjoy our white paper roll. It is a parenting staple and can be found in our supply list.
- Place the paper on a tabletop – or the floor if your child likes to work on the ground. Remember, movement is another key to learning, so lean into what works for your child.
- Draw a line down the middle.
- Label one side sphere with an image.
- Label the other side cube with an image of a cube.
- Make a quick hunt around the house, looking for spheres and cubes.
- Place all objects into a basket.
Yippee! I love when activities have limited prep time and supplies we already own.
I like to set our activities up the night before
Years ago, I was tired of weekday morning tv. Turning it off was a drag, and we were all cranky once it finally shut down.
Instead, I began setting up simple learning games like this for my toddlers and preschoolers and cleverly named them Breakfast Invitation. It is an invitation to play as I drink morning coffee (tea, really) and prep breakfast.
These activities work because we connect, and it sets the tone for the play.
Have a BIG KID at home?
You asked for activities to do with BIG kids at home, and we got to work. These are activities to help our older children thrive and extend learning.
20 hands-on activities for ages 5.5-8 years old.
Here is what to talk about as your child sorts the shapes
- Chat about what the shape is called
- Count and touch the faces
- Mention that the corners are called vertices
Are we looking for our toddlers and preschoolers to master everything we learn? No, we are not.
We are exposing our children to new ideas and giving them space and time to grow from the concepts we teach.