Learning About Shapes

B (6) has been learning all about shapes, and of course the best way to learn about something new is through play and hands-on activities! This blog post highlights some of the ways I have taught my 6-year-old about shapes, in accordance with the National Curriculum.

Learning Objective: Recognise and name common 2D and 3D shapes.

I like to split our learning topics into three sections: What do we know already? What should we know? What do we want to know/do? The third section allows for child-led learning to take place, and gives the children freedom to explore a topic in as much detail as they would like or use knowledge gained and apply it in different ways.

water color palette on white case
Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

What do we know already?

I like to build on knowledge we have already, this is part of an instructional technique called scaffolding. I do this by encouraging B to tell me about the shapes he already knows and if possible ask him to draw them. Here is a list of the 2D and 3D shapes that he already knew:

  • square
  • triangle
  • circle
  • oval
  • rectangle
  • pyramid
  • cylinder
  • sphere

I find that writing/drawing what he knows helps boost his confidence going forward. I also get him to add to his ‘knowledge sheet’ in a different colour, so that he can see how much he has learned as we work through, as well as completing exercises from his workbooks that I know he will be able to do unaided.

What should we know?

We need to be able to name and recognise common 2D and 3D shapes, as well as their properties aka how many sides and corners do they have? While I love using YouTube videos like the one below for 2D shapes or this long-time favourite for learning 3D shapes, I feel that they got a lot more out of it when they can make connections to our everyday life. That means we are constantly using the vocabulary in our daily conversations, which is something I have been doing since they were babies. Eg. Would you like your toast cut into squares, rectangles or triangles?

What do we want to know/do?

This part of learning allowed B to explore the answers to two questions he had:

  1. What shapes can we find in our house?
  2. How can shapes be used in art?

The children had a Shape Hunt around the house, they created their own version but I found this handy resource you could use if you prefer. B chose to make an art sculpture using 2D shapes he drew and cut out himself, using materials from our junk cupboard (pictured below).

Looking for more ideas?

We spent an afternoon creating artwork in the style of Wassily Kandinsky. The video below gives some good tips to keep in mind while working on your composition. When it’s finished, make sure you display it somewhere for your child to see their work and feel proud! We have an ‘art gallery’ which is a bit of string, from which I hang the children’s artwork using pegs, they stay up until the end of half-term.

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