The ability to accurately identify shapes is a foundational mathematical skill, and it is quite rewarding for children because their world is full of shapes. Understanding shapes will enable students to be more in tune to the world around them and see the connections between objects, as well as being better able to appreciate artistic works.
Select a couple of books about shapes to introduce the idea. Some recommended choices are:
Read them to the student and encourage thinking about the concept of all objects having shapes.
Use the table below to give the child an overview of basic shapes. Go over them twice, then go on to the activities.
After you have gone over the list twice, give the student the Shape Sheet at the end of this lesson and have him/her use the crayons to mark the shapes as you direct, reading through the directions on the next page. Feel free to give hints using the “Need to Know” section in the chart above.
Next, the student will draw the shapes with a finger in sand, sugar, or flour. To do this, put the two cups of sand, sugar, or flour in the container. The child should be able to reach into the container with ease.
Allowing the child to reference the Shape Sheet, have the child draw the shapes with his or her finger. If there is more than one child, allow them to share the exercise, with one child drawing a shape and the other identifying it, then exchanging roles.
Sing and dance along with the Hokey Pokey Shape Song!
Cut out the shapes at the end of this lesson, one six-page set per child. You can print the sheets on colored paper or allow the child to color the shapes for easier identification. (Note: You will also be using these shapes in later lessons.) Either with an adult or with other children, have child stand with shapes spread out near his/her feet.
Sing and dance the “Hokey Pokey” with the shapes, having the child pick up the shape and then dance with it. Call the shape out before each verse.
You may also allow the children to take turns calling the shapes.
If possible, print them in color or check out a book of Kandinsky’s paintings from the library. Have the student identify as many shapes as he/she can find in the paintings, creating a tally chart of how many times each shape was used by writing tally marks on the shapes used for the Hokey Pokey.
Have the student lay the shapes out on the floor or a table in order of most used. Using crayon, marker or watercolor, have the student create his/her own “Kandinsky” imitation, using at least one of each shape learned.
Take the student on a “shape walk” to find shapes in and around the house/classroom/school.
After the shape walk, reflect on the shapes that were easiest to find and those that were hardest to find, using questions such as:
If desired, have the student create a new drawing that reflects the shapes as found on the walk. If lots of circles were found, have lots of circles in the drawing. No trapezoids? Leave those out. Now you both have a visual representation of the shape walk results.
You may want to introduce the Shape Hunt Chant developed by the International Reading Association/National Council of Teachers of English. Here's a printable copy of this copyrighted material here (it’s OK to reproduce it for educational purposes).
Picture Yourself with Shapes
Since this is a Kindergarten-level activity, this assessment is skills-based, rather than grade-based.
This series of lessons was designed to meet the needs of gifted children for extension beyond the standard curriculum with the greatest ease of use for the educator. The lessons may be given to the students for individual self-guided work, or they may be taught in a classroom or a home-school setting. Assessment strategies and rubrics are included at the end of each section. The rubrics often include a column for "scholar points," which are invitations for students to extend their efforts beyond that which is required, incorporating creativity or higher level technical skills.