shape sorting activities for early years

Shapes and colours are two attributes children use to observe and categorise the diverse world around them. Learning to discern shapes not only helps them identify and organise visual information but also improves their skills in other curriculum areas such as math, science and reading.

Even though children start noticing shapes from a very early age, it takes a lot of practice to help build their understanding of the specific properties of each shape – the number of sides they have and how they look. Apart from allowing them to learn the shapes through playful everyday experiences, reinforcing their learning with age-appropriate games and activities can help to encourage their skill development across different domains.

Let’s take a look at some fun shape sorting activities that will get your pre-schoolers to learn their shapes while secretly working on their manual dexterity, creativity, literacy and math skills.

1.Feed the hungry shape monsters

The activity: Feed the hungry shape monsters sorting game by The Imagination Tree

Bring in some fun to shape sorting with these googly-eyed, silly-faced shape monsters. All you need are a few pieces of cardboard, paint, glue and some googly eyes. Paint and cut out the four basic 2D shapes: rectangle, square, triangle and circle for the monster faces. Stick on the googly eyes and cut out mouths of corresponding shapes to complete the monster faces.

Cut out a set of small 2D shapes to feed the monster and let the little ones take turns picking the shapes from the box. Get them to describe the shapes and spin their own stories before feeding them to the poor, hungry monsters. This is a great activity to spark their imagination and improve their vocabulary while getting them to name and recognise 2D shapes.

2. Shape hopscotch with a twist

The activity: Shape hopscotch by Highlights

On the days when the weather forces your little gang indoors, this is a fun game to keep them active while getting them to work on shape recognition and gross motor skills.

Cut out five sets of shapes from different coloured foam. Lay them on the floor to make a path. Now, cut out a big circle and an arrow from the cardstock to make a spinner. Mark six different sections on the spinner with a marker and write down a rule such as ‘Skip rectangle’, ‘Name the shape you landed on’ etc. in each section. Fasten the arrow to the middle of the circle with the metal fastener and stick it to the floor.

Spin the spinner and call out the rule the arrow points to. Get the children to hop from one shape to the other following the rule.

3. 2D shape puppets

The activity: 2D shape puppets by A blog from the pond

These cute cardstock shape puppets are perfect to lead the little ones into the world of shapes and build up their mathematical language.o

Cut out 2D shapes from cardstock. Stick a pair of googly eyes on each. Draw a mouth, add a bow tie, a moustache, a tuft of hair or a hat to give each shape some character. Cut out two finger holes at the base, and your shape puppets are all set for action. Get the children to work in pairs and let the shape conversations begin.

4. Shape Collages

The activity: Deepspacesparkle

All you need for this super simple activity is a set of multi-coloured paper, scissors and glue. Cut out 2D shapes in different sizes and colours. Give out sheets of paper and let them identify the shapes and stick them together to make little houses, people and all they can think of.

5. Shape sorting sensory game

The activity: Stir the wonder

This sensory sorting game ties in shape sorting with early math, fine motor skills and tactile sensory input.

Get started by filling a bin with black beans or dried peas and mix in buttons of different shapes. Keep a muffin tray or ice cube tray by its side. Keep a different shaped button in each section of the muffin tray and get the children to fill each section with similar-sized shapes. You can even get them to use fine motor tools or large tweezers to pick the shapes for some additional fine motor practice.

6. Shape Pizza

The activity: Shape pizza craft by notimeforflashcards

Use cardstock or felt to get the toddlers to make this super simple shape pizza. Turn a paper plate into the pizza crust. Draw and cut out 2D shapes on card stock for the toppings. Let the little ones dab some glue on the crust and stick their favourite toppings on it as they explore each shape.

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