Melissa and other children from the childcare center are going for a walk. As they walk, they look for triangles — the shape of the week.
“Is this a triangle?” Melissa asks as she points to a yield sign.
“Yes, it is,” her caregiver replies.
“I see some more!” Melissa cries as she points to some windows that are triangle-shaped.
Young children have an inborn ability to understand shapes. Even babies can recognize the difference between a circle and a square. They can see shapes and feel them. But they need help learning the name of each shape. As children grow, they can start to talk about and compare shapes and understand how they are used. Children who learn about shapes are building skills that will help them with reading, writing, and math. Learning about shapes also can help them understand other signs and symbols.
Think about the letters on this page. Some are round, some are straight, and some are curvy. When a child learns to recognize circles and triangles, he is building early skills that will help him recognize numbers and letters. When they start reading, children often learn to recognize words by their “shape.” When adults read quickly, they do the same thing.
As young children play, you as a childcare provider can talk with them about the shapes of their toys. You can encourage parents to do the same thing. As you know, it is helpful for children when adults describe the things around them. This is particularly true when it comes to shapes.
way that young children learn about shapes is by playing with them. Young
children are very interested in cause and effect. They will throw, push,
and squeeze things with various shapes. You can help children discover
what each shape does by talking about it out loud. For example, round
things roll. Things that are rounded on the edges can rock. It could hurt
to bump into something that is pointy. Understanding shapes starts while
children are young.
may not understand why shape activities are important. They may think
you are just doing crafts. You could help them learn how playing with
shapes helps a child get ready for reading and for math. Encourage them
to try some activities with shapes at home.
1. The Science Museum of Minnesota has information that helps children learn about shapes. http://www.sci.mus.mn.us/sln/tf/nav/shapescluster.html
2. A list with many
ideas for activities with shapes.
3. This site by National
Council of Teachers of Mathematics Illuminations Development Team is
For more information, contact Judith A. Myers-Walls, PhD, CFLE at firstname.lastname@example.org
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