Shapes Here, Shapes There, Shapes EVERYWHERE!!!

In January, I had the wonderful opportunity to present to a group of 50 dedicated TK/K teachers in Clovis Unified School District. My colleague, Jason Chamberlain, and I provided the research on the importance of children having early math opportunities prior to kindergarten and weaving math opportunities throughout the day. We provided a variety of geometric theme stations that did not use worksheets but rather allowed for constructive learning based on early literacy stories.

Researchers Doug Clements and Julie Sarama (Young Children’s Minds about Geometric Shapes,Teaching Mathematics April 2000) noted that there are three levels to understanding shapes:

Level I: Pre-recognition is when children perceive shapes but are unable to identify and distinguish among the shapes.

Level 2: Visual level, where children identify shapes by appearance.

Level 3: Descriptive level, where children recognize and characterize shapes by properties.

In addition, 128 children were interviewed with the following results (Clement et al. 1999; Hannibal 1999): 96% of the children accurately identify circles and 87% accurately identify squares. Contrary, triangles and rectangles were less accurate at 60% and 54%, respectively.

It was so enjoyable to see teachers rotate through the stations that tied the math activities to an engaging book with a geometry theme. Along with the activities, staff or parents can guide learning by asking to find common shapes (ie. the roll of paper towels is a cylinder, the plate is a circle, …). In addition, it can be powerful to discuss the attributes of each of the shapes and the difference between other shapes (i.e. a rectangle vs a square). I hope the following recap of the books and the activities will benefit you and your children. As always, remember to “do the math.”    


The Greedy Triangle, by Marilyn Burns and Gordon Silvera            978-0545042208

Compose and decompose geometric shapes. Have children create a puzzle using only geometric shapes then trading with a partner.       

I Spy Shapes in Art, by Lacy Michlethwait                                       978-0060731939

Look at various masterpieces such as the Composition the Word “Vie” by Auguste Herbin and have children create shape artwork.       

Circus Shapes, by Stuart J. Murphy                                                 978-0-06-446713-1     

Draw animals using only geometric shapes.      

Captain Invincible and the Space Shapes, by Stuart J. Murphy       978-0-06-4467631-5   

Create a two and three dimensional astronaut or spaceship then record number of shapes used.

Jack the Builder, by Stuart J. Murphy                                               978-0-06-055775-1

Use of pattern blocks to create various puzzles.       

Math Counts, by Henry Pluckrose                                                0-516-45456-0     

Go on a shape hunt.       

When a Line Bends…A Shape Begins, by Rhonda Gowler Greene   978-0-618-15241-4

Create a variety of 2D and 3D shapes using pipe cleaners, Wiki Sticks, magnets, and various manipulatives.     


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