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How to Teach Basic Shapes to Kids

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The world is filled with circles, triangles, squares and rectangles, and as adults, we become so used to seeing them that we often forget that learning the basic shapes for kids can be difficult—at least at first. But learning about basic shapes is critical to helping your child strengthen their hand-eye coordination, motor skills, and cognitive skills.

There’s no better way to teach children than through fun and exciting activities. Here are our favorite activities that we like to use at Vivvi to teach the basic shapes for kids to your preschooler.  

Why Do Kids Need to Learn the Basic Shapes?

You can expect your children to begin learning colors and shapes between the ages of one and three. Learning basic shapes is a significant milestone during the early learning years, not only from a visual perspective but because many other life skills are based on this knowledge. 

Once your child has mastered learning the basic shapes for kids, they will better observe and understand their environment. For example, you can point to a car, and your child will know it’s a rectangle. Or, if you have a pizza for dinner, they will know it’s a circle (or a triangle once it’s on their plate!). 

Shapes are also the foundation of learning the alphabet, and helpencourage your child’s language and reading skills. Like the alphabet, basic shapes can be used when teaching simple math equations like addition and subtraction. Shapes and colors are also directly linked to your child’s problem-solving abilities. That’s why you always see wooden inset puzzles in so many daycares and preschools! 

Basic Shapes for Kids: Fun Ways to Teach Them at Home

Basic shapes for kids are being taught at early learning centers every single day. But, that doesn’t mean that learning stops when your child is home. Keep the learning going with these engaging, fun activities. You’ll have them sorting shapes in no time! 

Use a Shape Chart

A great way to teach basic shapes for kids is by using a shape chart. A shape chart for toddlers and preschoolers shows the common shapes a child learns – circle, square, rectangle, triangle, oval, and diamond. Here’s a great shape chart template by Guru Parents that you can print out at home. 

Ask your child to draw each of the shapes using tracing paper and say the shape’s name as they draw. For example: “I am drawing a square.” Make up a fun rhyme or song to help them remember shape names. Use the shape chart to find objects around your home that match a shape. A pillow makes a perfect rectangle! 

Make Shapes with Playdough

No child can resist having some fun with playdough. A moldable form of pure magic, playdough is great for structured and unstructured play. It’s also ideal for learning basic shapes. Use cookie cutters to stamp out different shapes or encourage free-form play and make animals or food out of the playdough. If you choose the free-form play route, try saying phrases that name the shapes they’ve created like:

“Wow, your pizza is a big circle and is very round. It looks yummy.”

“I made a worm. Look how its body looks like a long, skinny oval.”

“Let’s make a square house and use a triangle shape for the roof.”  

Sort & Match Shapes

Sorting and matching activities are ideal for teaching the basic shapes for kids. Using wooden blocks, paper, puzzle pieces, or toys, ask your young child to sort and match shapes into different piles. You might have one pile for yellow triangles and another for purple ovals. 

Get involved! Your child will become more engaged if you participate too. Make observations while you are sorting shapes. For example, pick up a shape and say:

“This shape has four corners. It is not round like a circle, and it’s not wide like a rectangle, so it must go in the square pile.”

Advancing Your Child’s Cognitive & Visual Skills

Teaching shapes at home is a great way to support your child’s development. At Vivvi, our early learning program includes many activities and games focused on shapes that help strengthen cognitive skills and build a foundation for learning. Your child will progress towards several developmental milestones by learning basic shapes, including language, problem-solving, and literacy skills. 

Contact the team today if you’re interested in learning more about Vivvi’s inquiry-based learning model or or join us for a tour of our New York campuses to see our learning in action. 

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