A portable, rectangular shaped object with square keys, that business people use to do work on? A laptop! Have you ever played 30 seconds before and found yourself describing objects by referring to their shape or colour?
Be assured that the topic ‘Shapes and Colours’ is one that will repeatedly be taught in every preschool class. But, just why is this such an important topic for children to be taught?
Every object in the world is made up out of various shapes. Move your eyes away from the screen for a moment and look at the objects around you. If children understand shapes, the world starts to make more sense to them and they will find it far easier to describe what they see. This will further help them to find similarities and differences in objects. Therefore, learning about shapes will not only help children with verbal skills (describing objects), but it can also assist children with Pre-Maths and Pre-Reading skills – which are both critical building blocks to establish before children start to read and write.
Teaching children shapes can be done in a variety of fun and exciting ways! The two key elements to teaching shapes are:
Make it fun and real by using 3-D objects
There are endless ways to teach children about shapes! Remember children learn through play, so don’t force a shape name on a child, rather let them explore and learn about shapes through play. Before a child can learn a new concept on paper level (2-Dimensional, flat shape), they must feel and see what this new concept looks and feels like using their bodies (3-Dimensional, children can see, touch and feel the solid shape.) Once they understand what the shape can do, what it looks like and how it feels, they can better understand this concept on a 2-D, flat/paper level.
Repetition, repetition, repetition
If you use the shape-names repeatedly throughout the day, you will be amazed to see how quickly children will internalise the new concept. Teach children about shapes in Maths time, Home-Language time, Free-Play, Outdoor Play and you can even point them out during meal times and bathroom routine. Another fun way to reinforce shape names is to teach children through rhymes and songs.
Allow children to explore and encourage them ask questions about shapes, but most importantly allow them to play with “shapes.”
Here are a few fun shape-play activity ideas:
Discover shapes in the class and on the playground. Look for manhole covers, tiles, bricks, doors, windows, signs, and other distinct shapes.
Create shapes using different mediums. Children can use create shapes using their bodies, skipping ropes, playdough or even during “Make and Bake” activities. Include as many multi-sensory activities as possible that allow children to feel, see, smell and taste the “shape” they create.
Use 3-D objects to create 2-D images. Children can dip 3-dimensional objects in paints and press them on paper to make prints. Toilet rolls, cans, spools, candles, and paper cups work well. The children will see the flat shapes that make up the sides of the objects.
Alternatively turn 2-D images into 3-D by taping shapes with masking tape on the floor in your class and ask the children to build the shapes with building blocks or instruct children to “walk” the shapes while simultaneously repeatedly saying the name of the shape.
Once children are confident in identifying and naming shapes, introduce flat paper and shape activities where they have to fill in shapes. Using pictures of everyday objects again reinforces that everyday objects are made up of shapes and helps children understand the world more. Once children have mastered completing pictures with one-shape move on to more complex pictures with multiple shapes.
Shapes are all around us, shapes are everywhere. Shapes in the clouds, shapes in trees. Shapes in buildings and even in bees! But if you want to buy some you can view all our shapes products here: http://www.grow-it.co.za/search?type=product&q=shapes
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