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Curious
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Sorting Shapes

Hands-on Ways to Teach Kids Shapes

Highlights 4Cs

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Creative
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Curious
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Caring
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Your young child has a natural ability to understand shapes but needs your help to learn what they’re called. So talk it up! Describe objects’ shapes and what makes each one different. For example, you might say, “A triangle has three straight sides and three angles.” And don’t forget about learning through touch. Children learn best by handling different-shaped objects. So whether you’re at home or at the grocery store, try these tips to help your child learn about shapes.
Sorting Shapes

All Around You

Look around—you’ll find shapes everywhere.

  • Circles are round with no corners. Look for circles printed on billboards and road signs. Encourage your child to use a finger to trace around the edges of plates and cups.
  • Rectangles have four straight sides and four corners. The sides across from each other are the same length. Look for windows, doors, and flags. Trace the edges of envelopes and sheets of paper.
  • Squares are a special type of rectangle—all four straight sides are the same length. Look for windows and signs that appear to be square. Help your child trace the edges of square floor tiles or square picture frames and count each side.
  • Triangles have three straight sides and three angles. Look for them on billboards and yield signs. Cut used envelopes or cards from one corner to the opposite corner to make two triangles. Count the sides as your child traces the edges of each one.
  • Spheres are round, three-dimensional shapes. Find some balls and explore what happens when you drop something that doesn’t have straight sides—it rolls!

At the Store

  • Have your child trace the edges of a box of cereal or crackers and count the sides. Say, “The top of the box is a rectangle” (or square if all four sides are the same length). Look for spheres in the produce aisle.
  • Point out the express sign that says “10 items or fewer.” Ask, “Is this sign a square or a rectangle? How do you know?”
  • When paying for your groceries, point out the different shapes of money. Say, “This dollar bill is a rectangle. What shape is the quarter? Are all my coins the same shape? Are they the same size?”

Extending the Shape Sorting Fun

At the grocery store, say:

  • What shapes do you see in the produce aisle?
  • What kinds of shapes are in our shopping cart?
  • Let’s put all the rectangular items on the conveyor belt first.
  • What else can you count?

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