Creative Ways to Teach Shapes to Kindergarteners

For children in kindergarten or preschool, the study of mathematics is a fairly straightforward experience. Children at this age generally love to play and build a natural relationship with real-life activities and examples of what they are studying. They are starting to explore the world around them and see for themselves how things work.

Learning shapes is a fun activity for young minds, and it’s their first step toward spatial recognition. As a parent, you can introduce the concept of shapes and see how your child’s imagination unfolds.

The Importance of Teaching Shapes to Kindergarteners

Children tend to notice different shapes in things around them from an early age. They may not differentiate one shape from the other or say their names, but the idea of shape and structure is there. Teaching children about shapes with the help of free play can lay a rich foundation for mathematical concepts. Later, children can build upon those ideas to develop a sound understanding of the subject.

Here is what a child learns when they are taught shapes:

  • The visual structure of various shapes around us
  • Signs and symbols used to denote shapes
  • Naming sides and vertices with alphabetic letters
  • The mathematical concept related to the topic
  • How to categorize objects under different shapes 
  • Comparison of various shapes
  • Finding whether objects are symmetrical or asymmetrical in shapes
  • Increased levels of problem-solving

Different Types of Shapes to Teach Kindergarteners

Basic shapes are simple and fundamental and cannot be subdivided into simpler shapes. For example, a circle, square, and triangle are basic shapes. You cannot break them down into other shapes. 

Once you give kindergartners a basic understanding of shapes, you can move on to compound shapes. These shapes are made up of a combination of two or more simple shapes and can break down into simpler shapes. For example, an arrow, which is made up of a line and two small lines joined at a point to make the arrowhead. 

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Here are a few examples of how to teach basic shapes to kindergartners:


A triangle is a basic shape. ‘Tri’ means three, so a triangle has three sides joined together at three points. A triangle also has a ‘base’ which is the side on which it rests. It is usually the side at the bottom. For example, mountains and hills are shaped in the form of a triangle.


A square has four sides that are joined to one another at four point. An interesting thing about a square is that all its sides are equal in length. Children may find squares in real life in many things around them. For example, game boards, pictures, photographs, a chessboard, or a bread slice are squares.


The rectangle is also a familiar shape. It also has four sides; like a square, it doesn’t have equal sides. Each pair of opposite sides in a rectangle are equal. Children may look around to find the rectangle shape in notebooks, paper sheets, whiteboards, windows and doors, carpet, and many other things around them.


Next is a circle and what’s interesting about the circle is that it has no edges or sides. It is round and has no corners. Children can look around to find the circle shape in balls, beads, hula hoops, a whole pizza, or a wheel.


The heart shape has no sides or edges and looks like a strawberry. Children can quickly identify this shape and even learn to draw it in pictures.


Children can learn to draw a star in many ways. A star has five corners, and two sides join each corner. So, the star shape has ten sides and five points. Children can discover the star shape in a starfish.

Children can also learn about many other complex or compound shapes made up of a combination of basic shapes. 

Once children become familiar with basic shapes, they can learn advanced shapes reasonably well. Advanced 3D shapes are generally not taught in preschool or kindergarten as they can confuse young minds. However, a sound knowledge of basic shapes will give children a clear concept of shapes and make them quickly learn advanced topics.

The Best Way to Teach Shapes to Kindergarteners

Children can learn about shapes as they correlate them to many real-life objects, and recognizing shapes is also essential for brain development. Children can identify, recognize, differentiate and categorize different shapes based on their learning and observations. Think about teaching shapes in a fun way, like spotting different shapes while you’re out for a walk or asking your child to identify and describe their favorite shape. Base your teaching on playful activities and fun games that keep children engaged.

Check out these educational activities:

Use Shape Charts

A big chart with clearly made shapes and pictures can go a long way in making the study of shapes easier for children. To ensure that the chart is as colorful as possible, use a lot of crayons or paint to draw different shapes and related objects in real life. You can use this chart to help children read and remember shapes.

Shape Flashcards

Flashcards are also an exciting way to teach basic shapes to kindergarten children and keep them interested and engaged. You can make them yourself or even pick up some attractive flashcards at a local store or stationery shop. Ask your child to randomly pick up a card and name the shape drawn on it. You can even ask them to list a few objects around them that resemble the shape drawn on the card. 

Shapes Geoboard

A geoboard is a simple mathematical tool to teach basic geometrical concepts to children. It consists of a wooden board with a few nails drawn into it and wrapped by rubber bands. You can use a geoboard to help children learn about different shapes and patterns.

Shape Collage

Ask children to draw, color, or paint the images of different shapes they know. You can give them different colored paper sheets to make things more interesting and ask them to cut out various shapes and stick them together on a chart to make a collage. 

Shape Puzzles

There are many innovative shape puzzles available. There are board games that consist of plastic pieces of shapes which children can fit together to make a larger figure. There are also build-your-own 3D shape blocks that children can use to build something creative using basic shapes for kindergarten. You can even lookup some great puzzle ideas online.

Shapes are one of the fundamental topics of elementary math. Once kindergarteners can identify shapes, it opens a whole new world of interest and creativity. Colorful visuals, flashcards, fun games and activities, scavenger hunts, and collages are exciting ways to develop their interest in the subject. 

You can also sign your child up for a FREE trial math class at BYJU’S FutureSchool where a dedicated instructor teaches them in a 1:1 environment. And be sure to check out more math resources on the BYJU’S FutureSchool blog.

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