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Shapes activities and lessons


Children will be able to identify the attributes of circles, squares, and triangles.


  • Book: See booklist at right
  • Craft paper
  • Craft sticks
  • Square napkins
  • Paper plate

Shapes Activites

Teach your preschool children the five basic shapes- square, rectangle, triangle, circle, and star.

Shape Hop
Cut out different colored shapes out of craft paper and place them on the floor. Have the children name the shapes as they hop on them.

Shape Puppets
Have children cut out a circle, a square, a triangle, and a rectangle and have them draw faces on each one. Glue the shapes to craft sticks and write the names of each shape to the back.

Folding Napkins
Spread a large cloth napkin on the floor. Help children to understand that it is a square. It has four corners and four sides, and all four sides are the same length. Fold the scarf in half to form a rectangle. Show children that the opposite sides are the same length. Tell children that this a rectangle. Next, unfold the cloth and fold it diagonally. Point out that the shape is a triangle. Give children square napkins and let them copy your folding.

Shape Song
(Tune: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star)

Before beginning, give each child a tagboard ( triangle) shape.

Put your triangle shape in the air,
Hold it high and keep it there.
Put your triangle shape on your back,
Now please lay it on your lap.
Put your triangle shape on your toes,
Now please hold it by your nose.
Hold your triangle shape in your hand,
Now will everyone please stand.
Wave your triangle shape at the door,
Now please lay it on the floor.
Hold your triangle shape and jump, jump, jump,
Now throw your triangle shape way, way up.

Circle Rhyme

Give each child a craft paper circle to use as they perform the motions in the rhyme below.

Can you make your circle tap both your shoulders?
Can you make your circle tap both your knees?
Can you use your circle to rub your elbow?
Can you use your circle to make a breeze?

Can you turn around while you hold your circle?
Can you use your circle to touch the sky?
Can you tap your circle on top of your head?
Can you use your circle to wave goodbye?

Circle Game
Write the word “circle” on a paper plate. Have children sit in a circle. Play some music while passing the circle from child to child. When the music stops (similar to musical chairs), the child holding the circle holds it up and says, “Circle!”

Circle Song
A circle, a circle,
Draw it round and fat. (Use finger to draw circle in the air.)
A circle, a circle,
Draw it for a hat. (Draw a circle in the air over the head.)
A circle, a circle,
Draw it just for me. (Draw a circle in the air.)
A circle, a circle,
Now jump and count the three: One! Two! Three!

Square Activites

Triangle Activites

Read the book The Greedy Triangle (Brainy Day Books) by Marilyn Burns, an offbeat introduction to geometry. When a triangle tires of having only three sides, he asks the shapeshifter to change him first into a quadrilateral, then a pentagon, a hexagon, and so forth until he realizes he is happiest as a triangle.

Triangle Lesson
Show children a large triangle cutout and place it on the wall or board. Discuss its shape and explain that all triangles have three sides and three corners. Place a variety of triangles on the wall or board and count the sides and corners with children on all of the triangles. Help children see that although the sides may be different lengths, if a shape has three sides and three corners, it is a triangle.

Big Triangle
Designate three children who are sitting far apart in the circle as numbers 1, 2, and 3. Give the first child a ball of yarn. Have child 1 hold onto the end of the yarn and roll the ball to child 2. Have that child catch the ball, hold onto the yarn where it is, and then roll it to child 3. Now have child 3 hold onto the yarn and roll the ball to child 1. At this point, there should be a large triangle of yarn in the circle. Have the children place the yarn triangle carefully on the floor and let go. Let the three children walk along the yarn triangle.

Rewind the yarn ball and begin again with three more children. Continue until every child has had a turn to walk or to make the triangle.


View more shapes activities, lessons, and printables.


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Writing Activities

picture of Lilly jumping rope

Building Writing Muscles

When kids are very young, their hand muscles are just beginning to develop the strength and coordination required for writing neatly. Children who have difficulty writing often choose not to write because it;s too tiresome. Help your child build muscle control with these fun, simple fine motor activities.


Click here for more movement activities

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Shape Books

Spence Makes Circles by Christa Chevalier
A Circle Is Round by Donald Crews
Circles (What Shape Is It?) by Mary Elizabeth Salzmann
Circle Dogs by Kevin Henkes
So Many Circles, So Many Squares by Tana Hoban
When a Line Bends . . . A Shape Begins by James Kaczman

Squares (Silly Shapes Series) Sophie Fatus
Squares (A Flip Flop Book) Mavis Smith
Circles, Triangles, and Squares Tana Hoban
So Many Circles, So Many Squares Tan Hoban
What is Square? Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Squarehead by Harriet Ziefert

The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns
Let's Draw a Fish With Triangles (Let's Draw With Shapes) Kathy Kuhtz Campbell, Emily Muschinske
Triangle Arnold Shapiro, Bari Weissman
Triangles (A Flip Flop Book) Mavis Smith
What Is A Triangle? Rebecca K. Dotlich