Teaching Kindergarten Math: Shapes

The following Instructional Resource Set focuses on the recognition and mastery of two dimensional geometric shapes at the Kindergarten level.  In its entirety, this comprehensive plan places emphasis specifically on Virginia Standards of Learning  K.11-K12.  With these resources, in addition to lesson plans and activities, children will learn to recognize the four basic geometric shapes (circle, square, rectangle, and triangle) but are also faced with less traditional shapes such as diamonds, hearts, octagons, and ovals.  Children also learn to compare sizes of geometric shapes and positions relative to one another.  The books, websites, and online activities listed below aid in teaching these concepts to students.

Text Annotations: Children's Literature

Shapes, Shapes, Shapes by Tana Hoban


Hoban is well known for her wordless, yet instructionally brilliant children's books and this book is no exception!  If children have never been introduced to one of these unique books, they will be in for a treat as they sit down to this one.  Children can become an author, putting their own words to each page; or, teachers can be the author, taking children which he/ she reads to on a geometric journey.  Each page includes interesting and beautiful urban landscapes, portraits, and still life, thus relaying to children that shapes are all around them, every day, in every way!  Children will have fun studying each page, looking hard to find shapes within each one.  A plethora of circles, stars, triangles, trapezoids and more are embedded within each photograph.  The great thing is that before the book even begins, Hoban provides readers with a key of shapes to look for as they delve into each page.  A shape lesson can begin to take form before the teacher and the students even turn to the first page!

When a Line Bends, A Shape Begins by Rhonda Gowler Greene


How does a shape even become a shape?  Where many shape books for children never really answer that question, this book serves as a phenomenal introduction to the line being the basis for all shapes.  Perhaps a line is a jump rope laid out straight, or lots of little black ants in a row?  Whatever it is, when it bends, a shape begins!  Through pictures and catchy rhyming verse, the traditional square, circle, triangle, diamond, rectangle, octagon, and oval are presented for children.  Even the less traditional star, heart, and crescent get some attention too!  No matter how popular, every shape has its own verse and double-page spread loaded with visual examples for children to see. This book could be utilized as an enhancement to any geometric shape lesson, or simply a really cute read-aloud with which children will easily fall in love.

Mouse Shapes by Ellen Stoll Walsh


Ellen Stoll Walsh, once again, proves she is a master of children's concept books with this cute companion to her classic concept books, Mouse Paint and Mouse Count.  Here, three quirky little mice are on the run from a big, scary cat!  In their adventure to hide, they discover shapes and work as a team to create larger things out of the smaller geometric figures.  The clever mice are curious as to what they can create with two circles, or a square, or perhaps, even eight triangles?  How about a wagon, or a house, maybe even a cat?!  Children will love to follow the story line of this enticing book, thus permitting them the opportunity to further learn shapes and colors.  Teachers can easily extend this book into a true lesson by using large, cut-out shapes for children to find as the mice do too!

A Circle Here, A Square There  by David Diehl


Yet another wonderful book to use in the classroom to help children identify shapes as common elements in every day life.  Every page of this book displays the single word for each shape in large, bold print with accompanying pictorial examples beneath. A square is represented by a beautifully wrapped gift, the circle by a delicious scoop of ice cream.  These are just a couple of the book's very relatable examples for children to see.  Among the book's other shapes are the heart, oval, diamond, crescent, and even an octagon.

The Wing on a Flea: A Book about Shapes by Ed Emberley


In this fun rhyming book that serves as a renovated version of the 1961 edition, shapes are presented to children as things they eat, see, or play with in their daily lives.  Children will be completely mesmerized by clean-cut shapes, cheerful colors, varying sizes and the world that is created by combining them all together.  Each shape is taught apart from every other, however, that does not stop the author from utilizing a combination of every shape in all pictures.  All geometric figures are displayed as solid colors on a black background, thus allowing children to see the shapes clearly with no distractions.  "Look and you can see that a wing on a flea is a triangle!"

Web Annotations: Children’s Website

The Story of Shapes presents a furry, quirky animal telling the story of shapes and providing descriptions for each as he draws them on a chalkboard for childre nto see!

The Shape Train asks that children identify the correct shapes in order to get the train to take off from the station.  This can also be done using colors, whereby the child must choose the correct colors to get the train to take off.  For a more advanced activity, the child can choose to mix colors and shapes!

Purpy’s Shapes allows children to have fun with Purpy while finding some his favorite shapes.  Children are first asked to match objects that are seen in every day life to corresponding geometric shapes.  Secondly, they must find a given number of shapes in a presented picture.   If the child succeeds at this task, he/ she is then presented with a kid-friendly explanation of how circles and squares are “squished” to get ovals and rectangles.  Each time a child gets a page correct, he/ she must locate an increased number of shapes in a new picture!

On this site, Kids Online Resources Presents Learning is Fun, children are shown shapes first, then asked to drag their mouse over real-life objects that match the given shape.  Once correct,  the child gets the opportunity to create large, sometimes silly, pictures or objects out of that shape.

With I Spy Shapes children are presented with various scenes, which include several shapes throughout the picture.  Children must locate the shapes and click on them with the mouse as a number ticker keepts track of the shapes found.  The picture is completed and the children are praised when all are successfully located!

Additional Resources

Hummingbird Education Resources: Lesson Plans

From catchy songs to cute in-class crafts, this site offers a comprehensive listing of various ways for teachers to implement and teach the shapes in Kindergarten classrooms.

With Shapes Recognition Practice several downloadable printables, listed from easiest to hardest to aid in differentiated learning, are presented to teachers to utilize in reinforcing the learning of shapes, sizes, and relative positions.

Step by Step Childcare Presenting Shapes

From edible ideas using common shapes to a list of children's literature, this is a great site for teachers providing multiple methods to enforce the recognition of shapes.

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