Exploring Shapes: A Hands-On Guide For Young Mathematicians

Everything has shape, if you look for it. There is no escape from form. Salman Rushdie

Shapes form the very foundation of the world we live in. They’re in the food we eat, the cars we drive, and even the Earth itself has a shape! That’s why it’s so important to introduce this concept to kids in math tutoring elementary lessons. 

But teaching kids about shapes goes beyond merely showing them how to draw a triangle or rectangle. At the very least, they should be able to identify these shapes and patterns in which they appear in the world.

That’s why, in this guide, we’ll be exploring the best ways to help young mathematicians learn about shapes, plus some fun activities to include in your curriculum.

But let’s begin with the basics:

Why Should You Teach Kids About Shapes?

Whether you’re a homeschooling parent or online tutor, incorporating this concept very early on serves as one of the building blocks for academic excellence. It will help young children gain mathematical reasoning skills, which will ultimately come in handy as they climb up the academic ladder. 

Here’s a further glimpse of how this concept can (and will) benefit young learners:

  • It helps them understand and identify patterns in the world
  • It serves as a preamble to geometry – one of the core foundations of math
  • It teaches kids symmetry
  • It teaches and encourages mathematical problem-solving

And that’s only half of it!

Now, here’s the big question:

When Should You Start Teaching Kids about Shapes?

Some parents begin to introduce shapes to kids from the age of two. In fact, math in Singapore involves kids learning about 2D shapes in Primary One.

However, the truth is that it’s never too early to introduce basic shapes to kids. According to the studies, children are not only ready to learn but already actively learning from the time they’re born!

Although they may learn at different paces, they’d still be able to pick up the basics as they advance.

5 Easy Activities for Teaching Shapes to Kids

While shapes may be basic, there’s certainly nothing basic about the art of teaching them. You’ll need to keep the lessons as engaging as possible while ensuring that you pass on the fundamental principles. This means trying out fun activities, stories, imaginative play – and any other technique that doesn’t turn your class into a snooze fest.

We understand that this can be a tough ask; so, without further ado, here are a few fun hands-on activities to help you teach kids about shapes: 


Sorting activities are some of the most effective and popular ways to teach kids about shapes. The best part is that it allows for a lot of improvisation. So, even if you don’t have the budget for a trip to the store, you can definitely carry out this activity with wooden blocks, toys, and just about any other material you have lying around.

Here’s how it works: 

Pick out all of your child’s toys and ask them to help you sort them according to shapes. For instance, you could hold up a toy truck and say: “This is a rectangle! Let’s put it over here.”

Children tend to mirror activities, so they’ll most likely get the hang of it after watching you play.

If you don’t have enough toys, it’s worth cutting up some colored cardboard pieces into various shapes and using these as the models for your activity. Remember: you can improvise as much as you can, so don’t get too hung up on finicky bits!

P.S: It’s okay if this activity falls flat or if your child doesn’t get it right on the first try. Learning is a continuous process and as time goes on, they’d be able to learn from their previous mistakes.


Matching is another popular activity to help kids learn about shapes. Just like sorting games, you can improvise with everyday household items or toys. There’s no singular way to incorporate this activity but here are a few ideas worth trying: 

  • Buy a puzzle set and encourage your child to match puzzle pieces of the same shape. Kids are more attracted to vibrant colors, so it’s definitely worth going for brightly colored puzzles if you want to keep them engaged.
  • Create a shape collage in a scrapbook and get your kids to color in the shapes with crayons. 

Again, the more colorful you make this experience, the more engaged young learners will be. 

Shape hunt

Who doesn’t love scavenger hunts? Most kids do, especially when there’s a prize involved. Grab a toy magnifying glass (or create a DIY glass, if you don’t have one already) and ask your kids to hunt for shapes around the house. 

Alternatively, you could take the hunt outside and ask them to identify the shapes in nature. Ignite their competitive spirit by throwing in a prize for whoever gets the most shapes.

It’s like an Easter egg hunt but for shapes!

A shape “buffet”

If you’re still not sure how to teach your kids about shapes, throw in some food. Everyone loves a learning activity that involves snacks! So, why not spice things up by preparing a shape buffet? Cut up some everyday snacks and fruits into different shapes (cookies are a great idea!). Ask your child to identify each shape, and if they get it right, they get to eat the snack!

A shape monster

Finally, add some visuals to your house or classroom by creating a shape monster. Cut out some shapes, throw in some legs and arms, and voila! You have a shape monster! This doesn’t only give your kids something fun to play with, it also reinforces their knowledge of shapes.

Plus, as we’ve mentioned earlier, it can make for a great visual display!

Final Thoughts

Learning shapes for kids is an essential building block for academic success. The best part? It can be fun and exciting – not just for children but for you as well! Try out any of these hands-on activities and see how it turns out!

Elizabeth Willett (MA)
Elizabeth Willett (MA)
Elizabeth Willett has an M.A in health and fitness, is an experienced trainer, and enjoys teaching children about healthy eating habits. She loves to cook nutritious meals for her family.


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