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Discover Shapes in Many Places

Young children love to find shapes all around them. Understanding shapes is an important mathematical skill for young children to develop. Here are some ways you can help your child learn about shapes and to talk about and work with them in meaningful ways.

  • Point out familiar shapes
    Talk about common two-dimensional shapes such as circles, squares, and triangles and three-dimensional shapes such as balls, cubes, and cones. Name the shapes children often see in nature, their home, and around their neighborhood.
  • Explore new dimensions
    Introduce words for three-dimensional shapes. Talk about how a can has a round flat circle on top but the whole shape is called a cylinder. Show children one side of a block that has the shape of a square and explain that the whole shape is called a cube.
  • Expand their vocabulary about shapes
    Use words that help children describe shapes accurately. Some words to include are side, solid, surface, point, straight, curve, inside, flat, top, and angle.
  • Explore the concept of shapes
    Playing board games, participating in sports, building with blocks, and creating with recycled materials are all opportunities for children to problem solve with and talk about shapes.

IEL Resource

About this resource

Setting(s) for which the article is intended:
  • Home
  • Preschool Program
  • Kindergarten

Intended audience(s):
  • Parents / Family
  • Teachers / Service providers

Age Levels (the age of the children to whom the article applies):
Related IEL Birth to Three Guidelines:
Related Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards:
Reviewed: 2016