Show me a tri­an­gle Teach­ing your child dif­fer­ent shapes

The world is filled with shapes: tri­an­gles, rec­tan­gles, cir­cles… Open your child’s eyes and mind to them with help from oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist Su­sanne Hugo

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents -

DE­VEL­OP­ING A CON­CEPT of shape is ex­tremely im­por­tant in early child­hood devel­op­ment. When you teach your child about shapes and forms, keep a few things in mind:

It’s im­por­tant that your lit­tle one learns about shapes in three phases. Firstly, have them ex­pe­ri­ence the shape with their whole body by, for in­stance, walk­ing on the out­line of a cir­cle. Then you can let them touch and play with the shape – use a block or toy with a dis­tinct form. Lastly, you can get your child to iden­tify and draw the shape.

Re­mem­ber, teach your child one shape at a time. Once it’s clear they un­der­stand one well, you can move on to the next. Teach shapes in this order: cir­cle, tri­an­gle, square, rec­tan­gle, cross, di­a­mond, semi­cir­cle, oval and star.

0-1 YEAR

It’s un­be­liev­able how much your bright spark can mas­ter at such a young age! By nine months they al­ready store the con­cept of shape and that of colour separately in their mem­ory.

How to help

Your baby won’t be able to iden­tify or name shapes, but with the fol­low­ing ac­tiv­i­ties they’re ex­posed to dif­fer­ent shapes, which cre­ates aware­ness. • Pro­vide your baby with a va­ri­ety of toys in dif­fer­ent shapes. While you’re play­ing with him, say: “The ball is a round cir­cle, and the block is a square.” Try and make your baby aware of shapes as of­ten as pos­si­ble. • Pack toys with spe­cific shapes – such as balls, wooden blocks and sponge shapes – in a con­tainer. Un­pack it to­gether, and name ev­ery shape as you go along. • Dec­o­rate the nurs­ery and specif­i­cally the chang­ing sta­tion and play ar­eas with mo­biles or pic­tures with dif­fer­ent shapes; do the same for the car seat. Name the shapes when you spot him look­ing at or play­ing with them. • Put baby on your lap while you page through a book with dif­fer­ent shapes. Name the shapes: “The sun is a yel­low cir­cle. They live in a square house.”


Your child starts putting a cir­cle and square in the right spa­ces in a shape puz­zle. He might still bat­tle some­times, but he’ll mas­ter it sooner rather than later. He’s also start­ing to un­der­stand how shapes are grouped to­gether. An or­ange and a ball are, for in­stance, both round and can roll.

Do this

Give your lit­tle one a shape puz­zle with just a cir­cle and a square on it. You can also make one your­self by cut­ting a cir­cle

and a square out of a plas­tic con­tainer. Now cut cir­cles and squares from card­board if you don’t have blocks or beads in the right shape. • Give your munchkin enough time to play with the shapes be­fore you show him where to place them in the puz­zle or plas­tic con­tainer mould. It’s im­por­tant to give him the chance to do it him­self. Get ex­cited with him when he suc­ceeds – even if it hap­pens by ac­ci­dent! • Roll a ball on the floor, and make your child aware of the fact that it’s round and can roll for this rea­son. Then ex­plain that a square toy has cor­ners, and that’s why it can’t roll. • En­sure your child has a va­ri­ety of toys in dif­fer­ent shapes with which to play. Start off the game by say­ing some­thing like, “The ball is a round cir­cle. The block is a square.” • He’ll still en­joy some of the older shape games he played be­fore his first birth­day, like un­pack­ing and nam­ing shapes from a box. 2-3 YEARS Your child can now group the four ba­sic shapes: cir­cle, square, rec­tan­gle and tri­an­gle. He can also iden­tify and name cir­cles. • Draw a cir­cle big enough for your child to be able to walk on. You can do so with a stick in the ground, with chalk on your drive­way, with bright pens on a big sheet of pa­per, or even with rope or the hosepipe. En­cour­age your lit­tle one to trace the shape by walk­ing, run­ning, crawl­ing and jump­ing on it. Talk to him about the shape while he’s mov­ing on it. • Have your child play rot­ten egg with friends or fam­ily. En­cour­age ev­ery­one to hold hands and make a cir­cle. Fo­cus their at­ten­tion on the shape they’re mak­ing. • Let your lit­tle one sit on the floor, and place var­i­ous blocks, beads and card­board shapes in front of him. Hand him a cir­cle shape and ask him to sep­a­rate and put all the cir­cles to­gether. If he grabs the wrong shape, ask him to look at the next one and en­sure he chooses the right one. If he strug­gles a lot with this game, though, you can make it eas­ier by just giv­ing cir­cles and squares. You can also make the game more chal­leng­ing by adding shapes. • Fin­ger paint is a fan­tas­tic aid to ex­plain the con­cept of shape. Teach your child to make a cir­cle by paint­ing one for him and then lead­ing his hand around the out­line. By the end of the year your lit­tle artist will im­i­tate you by paint­ing his own cir­cle.


Your child can now name a cir­cle, square and tri­an­gle and is keen to tell you the shapes of cer­tain ob­jects. He’ll for in­stance point out vol­un­tar­ily that a ball is a cir­cle. He’ll find it a lot eas­ier to com­plete a shape puz­zle now, and he starts copy­ing sim­ple shapes when you draw them. So get cre­ative! Do this • Ask your lit­tle artist to draw dif­fer­ent shapes and lines in the sand. Sit with him and show him how to draw a cir­cle, and ver­ti­cal and hor­i­zon­tal lines. At the end of the year you can also teach him how to draw a plus sym­bol, cross, square and lad­der. Draw an ex­am­ple, and let him copy you. • Play “Si­mon says” with your child, but give or­ders that in­clude a cir­cle, square and tri­an­gle: “Si­mon says touch some­thing that’s round like a cir­cle.” “Si­mon says bring me a tri­an­gle-shaped block.” “Si­mon says stand on some­thing that’s shaped like a square.” • By the end of the year you can blind­fold your child and give him a cir­cle, square or tri­an­gle shaped block. Chal­lenge him to guess the shape he’s hold­ing. Give him many clues if he strug­gles with this game. It’s com­pletely nor­mal if your child calls a cir­cle a ball and a square a block.

4-5 YEARS It’s time to sort! Your child can group to­gether roughly six shapes (cir­cle, square, tri­an­gle, rec­tan­gle, oval and star). He also un­der­stands the dif­fer­ence be­tween a square and a rec­tan­gle. Do this • Sit with your child while he pages through a book. Ask him to point to a spe­cific shape on a page. Ask him to point out all the cir­cle shapes on a page, for in­stance. He can point to a wheel, ball, sun etc. Also re­peat the game with squares, tri­an­gles, rec­tan­gles and stars. • Use sticks, matches, wool or rope to de­vise dif­fer­ent shapes, and ask your child to copy them. If you want to make the game more chal­leng­ing, you can ask him to make the shapes with­out first giv­ing an ex­am­ple. • Cut dif­fer­ent coloured and sized shapes from card­board, and al­low your lit­tle artist to play around with them. En­cour­age him to build a tree or a house. Guide your child if he strug­gles with this game. You can also make him an ex­am­ple and ask him to copy it. YB


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