Years ago we provided children with activities that would develop visual discrimination and visual memory. We started the year with colors and shapes because in Early Childhood 101 we learned to go from simple to complex and from large to small. If children could discriminate the basic shapes and remember the names they were ready to move on to letters and numbers. Shapes are included in all state standards for pre-k and K, but there's a lot more going on here that learning shape names. Here are a few new ideas to help you "shape up" your math center.
Go to makinglearningfun.com and download highway shapes. Place shapes in clear sheet protectors. Children can take small cars and drive over the shapes. They can also trace the shapes with a dry erase marker and then erase.
Fold two sheets of paper in half and staple. Children decorate the front of their book with shapes. Next, they walk around the room and draw shapes that they see. Can they label the shapes?
*This would be a good homework activity to help children be more aware of the shapes around their home.
Play Dough Book
Draw lines, curves, and geometric shapes with a marker on file folders. Laminate. Bind file folders with rings to make a book. Children roll play dough and place it on top of the shapes.
Offer children pipe cleaners, Wikki stix, etc. and challenge them to make various shapes with the items.
Flat or Solid?
Place flat and solid objects in lunch bags. Number the bags. Children number their page for the number of bags that you are using. They reach in each bag, feel it, and then write if it is 2-D or 3-D.
Fill a plastic bottle half full with sand or salt. Insert shapes and shake. Children identify shapes and then draw what they find.
Give children pretzel sticks and pretzel twists and challenge them to make geometric shapes. How many pretzel sticks will you need to make a hexagon? How many pretzel sticks will you need to make a triangle?
*It's also fun to make letters or numerals with pretzels.
Give children toothpicks and play dough. What flat and solid shapes can they create?
Little to Large
Make a very small shape (triangle, square, trapezoid, half-circle, etc.) in the
center of a sheet of paper. Children take different colors of crayons and to
around the shape, making it a little larger each time until it completely fills