Teaching Kids Shapes: Lesson Plans for Parents and Teachers

Although full-fledged geometry may not be taught until high school, students begin learning about shapes as early as kindergarten. They may add new kinds of shapes to their repertoire through fourth grade. No matter when they are taught specific shapes, it can be beneficial to use a variety of teaching methods.

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Lesson Plans for Teaching Shapes to Kids

Kinds of Shapes to Teach

Although students may learn the names of most shapes in kindergarten, a few may be learned in later years. Common times to learn and focus on various shapes or categories of shapes are:

Kindergarten

  • Square
  • Triangle
  • Circle
  • Rectangle
  • Hexagon
  • Cube
  • Cone
  • Cylinder
  • Sphere

First Grade

  • Trapezoid
  • Prism

Third Grade

  • Rhombus
  • Quadrilateral

Fourth Grade

  • Angles

Parts of a Lesson Plan

Whether you're teaching at home or in school, begin by presenting the topic of the lesson and stimulating student interest in it. Then, explain the topic or concept. After this, students usually have guided practice in what has been taught, and then practice independently. Conclude a lesson with review. Ideas for each of these parts of the lesson plan are included below.

Introduction

A lesson may address only one shape, like a rectangle, or a family of shapes, such as parallelograms. Most students will know the names of at least a few shapes by the time they begin kindergarten. As a result, activating background knowledge is often a good place to begin.

Classroom or Room at Home

Have the students look around the room and find something that has a shape they can name. Then the teacher or parent can say, 'I also see something that is shaped like a ....,' and follow up with a simple definition of the shape and have the children find something that looks like the new shape.

Flags

Show pictures of several different flags around the world. Have the children see how many shapes they can find on the flags. The parent or teacher can then introduce the new shapes by pointing them out in the flags.

Stories

There are a number of fun stories to read about shapes. These may be found through the city or school library, or online. Books about a number of shapes include:

  • The Shape of Me and Other Stuff by Dr. Seuss
  • Shape by Henry Pluckrose
  • When a Line Bends . . . A Shape Begins by Rhonda Gowler Greene
  • Mouse Shapes by Ellen Stoll Walsh

Books about one or two specific shapes include:

  • The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns
  • A Circle Here, A Square There: My Shapes Book by David Diehl
  • Hexagon by Ann-Marie Kishel
  • Cylinder by Jennifer Boothroyd

Songs

There are many songs that teach about shapes. The teacher or parent can learn songs through YouTube.com. Simply go to the website and search for 'songs about shapes.' If the computer is available for classroom use, students can learn the songs and sing along with them by watching the video.

Parents and teachers can use familiar songs such as Hokey Pokey or Farmer in the Dell and make up their own words to teach shapes. Children can make up their own versions, too.

Explanation

In elementary school, shapes are simple enough to teach and learn that often the introduction can also be the explanation. However, many kids benefit from hands-on activities, so consider using manipulatives such as cut-outs of shapes, tangrams or geoboards.

Guided Practice

Children may use the same manipulatives that the teacher or parent used. They can be given the name of a shape and use the manipulatives to either find or construct the shape. This may be done simultaneously with the teacher's explanation or as a separate exercise.

Independent Practice

Children love to use the manipulatives to make their own shape. If they use tangrams, for example, and make the shape of a man, then have them tell you the names of the shapes used and how many of each kind there are. If they are using geoboards, they may come up with some very strange shapes. Let them give their new shape a name and then see how many squares, triangles, diamonds, etc. they can find in their shape.

Review

A review of shapes may include any of the activities already mentioned. Playing a shape game is also a good review. To find printable games, search online for 'printable shape games for kids.' If you want something more physically active, you can look for 'outdoor shape games for kids.' A search for 'shape games for kids' will help you find online interactive games.

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