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How to teach 2D shapes in Kindergarten?

Updated: Jun 27

2D shapes are an exciting and engaging area of Math that most children (and teachers) enjoy learning about. 2D shapes is one of those topics which is really easy to link to real-life and you can take advantage of carrying out lots of fun, creative activities with your class! My 2D shape resource bundle includes lots of engaging activities to help your students learn all about this topic.

In this blog post we are going to explore why it is important for students to learn about 2D shapes and how they relate to real life. I am also going to talk about some ways to make learning about 2D shapes fun as well as some top tips on teaching 2D shapes in kindergarten.

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What is the simple definition of 2D shapes?

2D shapes can be defined as shapes with only 2 dimensions which are width & height. 2D shapes are flat and cannot be held. Examples of 2D shapes are square, triangle, circle etc. 2D shapes can have sides and corners.

Why is it important to learn about 2D shapes?

It is important to learn about 2D shapes as it helps children recognise signs and symbols around them in everyday life. 2D shapes are important for developing various skills such as those used in creative areas and subjects such as Physical Education, reading, writing (letter shapes) and math (number recognition). 2D shapes also help students to develop problems solving skills, when using toys and solving puzzles and building. Learning about 2D shapes also helps children to visualise things and organise their learning. 2D shapes contributes to body awareness and the ability to mentally map surroundings and affects spatial awareness too.

What are the important things to learn about 2D shapes?

  • What each shape looks like – picture and real-life examples.

  • Name of the 2D shape – practise saying these with your children.

  • Properties – number of sides & corners. Spend time explaining and showing what a corner is and what a side is. Discuss if sides are straight or curved. My 2D shape resource bundle includes various activities that will give your class lots of opportunities to learn about the properties of 2D shapes.

  • Matching 2D shapes – different colours, sizes, angles.

  • For more of a challenge you can explore if a shape can tile with no gaps or make patterns with 2D shapes.

How do you introduce a lesson on 2D shapes?

A good way to introduce 2D shapes is to show examples of shapes in your student’s environment. Pick out a few examples of 2D shapes in your classroom and discuss if they are the same or different. Ask children to explain why and to describe the shapes. Pick up on words they use such as straight, curved, round, corners etc.

Focus on small number of shapes at first (more about that in next section). Then add more complex shapes as children are ready.

What order should you teach 2D shapes? What shapes should children learn first?

When teaching your class about 2D shapes focus on shapes such as circle, triangle, square and rectangle first. Ensure children are secure with the names, what they look like, their properties etc. Then you can introduce more complex shapes such as pentagon, hexagon, rhombus, oval and different types of triangles. You can then move onto shapes such as trapezoid, parallelogram etc. Discuss how these shapes are very similar but still have differences. You may think that your students are not ready for this in Kindergarten, but you may be surprised!

What are examples of 2D shapes you can use during a lesson?

Below I have listed a selection of 2D shapes you may want to focus on with your students.

  • Square

  • Rectangle

  • Triangle

  • Circle

  • Oval

  • Pentagon

  • Hexagon

  • Octagon

  • Rhombus - diamond

  • Trapezoid

  • Parallelogram

  • Heptagon

Top tips for teaching 2D shapes

  • Ensure you provide lots of opportunities for seeing 2D shapes in real life. This means your class can see how it is relevant to their lives.

  • Focus on what makes a shape unique. This will help them remember properties of each 2D shape. For example, a triangle has 3 sides.

  • Have prompts in your classroom. Resources such as posters, anchor charts, activities in areas etc. My 2D shapes posters are perfect for displaying in your classroom or Math area.

  • Provide lots of hands-on activities where children can move shapes around, see them from different angles, use them in patterns, pictures etc and manipulate them.

  • Learn about shapes through songs, rhymes.

  • Have a combination of teacher led activities where children are being taught properties, names etc as well as opportunities for self-exploration where children can discover aspects about 2D shapes for themselves. My 2D shapes task cards and 2D shapes worksheets are excellent activities that can be led by a teacher and are an excellent set of resources to explicitly teach about 2D shapes.

  • Explore different sizes, colours and angles of 2D shapes and discuss if this changes the 2D shape they can see.

How to make learning about 2D shapes fun?

  • 2D shapes hunt – Go on a shape hunt around your environment. Children share different shapes they have spotted. Or you can give children a specific shape to hunt for. You can adapt this by asking your class to Spot 2D shapes in a picture too.

  • 2D shape sorting – Children can cut out or be given 2D shapes already cut out and then sort them depending on their properties, for example - number of corners, sides etc. You can also use a Venn diagram to sort 2D shapes using given criteria. This will develop your kid’s data handling skills too!

  • 2D shape artwork – Children create artwork using only 2D shapes or certain 2D shapes that you give them.

  • 2D shape activities – Other activities such as 2D task cards questions, loop cards, dominoes etc are excellent at developing your student’s matching skills and knowledge about 2D shape properties.

  • 2D shape bingo – Your students can play classic bingo or you can ask kids to match cards with 2D shapes to their bingo board.

  • You can use resources such as pipe cleaners, straws, lolly sticks and play dough to experiment making different 2D shapes. These do not have to be square etc but can be irregular 2D shapes. Make sure to encourage children to make and count the sides, corners etc.

  • Guess the shape – You can make a feely bag or box and place 2D shapes inside. Children must feel the shape to guess what it is. Ask them to describe it to the class.

  • Making patterns using 2D shapes to decorate something or using different materials.

Overall, 2D shapes are an extremely fun and engaging area of maths for your class to learn about and there are so many ways to make this exciting for your class.

Keep in mind, to ensure you are making links to where your students can find 2D shapes in real life as this ensures their learning is continually relevant.

Remember to have a combination of teacher led and independent activities to ensure you have a good balance of explicit teaching about 2D shapes as well as lots of opportunities for self-exploration.

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