Passing the time with a busy toddler or preschooler can be exhausting, and we can all use some fresh inspiration every now and then.
If you’re looking for a variety of simple, fun preschool shape activities, you’re in the right place!
There are many important benefits to learning about shapes:
First, shape recognition and discerning shapes provides the building blocks for a strong foundation in mathematical reasoning. When your child learns to discern the similarities and differences between basic shapes, they are using the same skills they need to recognize the differences between numerals. So, essentially, shape activities are also math activities for very young children.
Learning shapes helps develop another very important skill: spatial awareness. That is, it helps your child understand how things fit together.
Finally, manipulating 2d shapes helps develop fine motor skills over time.
So, without further ado, here are 25 super-simple themed activities to practice shapes with your preschooler. No fancy supplies required!
The shapes activities you find here are perfect for 3-5 year olds, and perhaps will extend beyond those age boundaries depending on your child.
These activities focus on improving your child’s understanding of shapes that are 2d (two dimensional), but as your child gets older you can incorporate a discussion about 3d shapes, too.
Note to teachers: If you are a preschool teacher, these activities would be perfect for a math center! Kids can complete them individually or in a small group.
For your convenience, there are affiliate links in this post.
You’ll also find FREE PRINTABLES of shape worksheets at the bottom of this post!
1. Shape Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger Hunts are always an exciting way to learn about a new concept. During a shape scavenger hunt, your child will begin to see shapes within real objects in your home.
To start your Shape Hunt, ask your child to first tell you about all the shape names they know about. How many can your little one think of? Help them come up with a manageable list of 3-5 shapes.
Then, invite them to discover various shapes in the different items your home. For example, did they ever notice that heir bed is a giant rectangle? The paper plates in the cupboard are perfect circles! The mirror might be an oval.
Perhaps there’s a special triangle-shaped window in your home!
How many shapes can they find in all? How many circles? How many squares? How many rectangles?
Talk about the number of sides each one has.
While they go on their shape hunt, they might want to snap some photos of the shapes they find, or draw them on a piece of paper.
You can also extend this activity outside of the home. For example, when you’re in the car, you can point out the shape of stop signs, traffic light, tree trunks, windows on homes and building, etc.
For older children, you can even begin to talk about the difference between two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes.
2. Hidden Shapes
“Hidden shapes” is always a hit!
Learning shapes has never been more mysterious! This shape activity is always a hit with the little ones.
All you need is a white crayon and a white piece of paper.
With the white crayon, draw different shapes on a white piece of paper, the bigger the better. (Make multiple shapes if you’d like the activity to last a bit longer.)
Then, tell your child you found some magic mystery paper! There are hidden shapes on the paper that they have to find.
Next, give them a marker, water color, or finger paint and have them color over the paper.
The shapes you drew will magically appear! (Water color works best.)
What else can you hide on the paper? Can you reverse roles and have your child hide shapes from you?
3. Dry Erase Shapes
This is sure to be one of your child’s favorite shape activities, because they get to draw on the walls! (Well, kind of.)
All you need for this activity is a dry erase markers and a window.
Work together to draw all the shapes you can think of on the window. Ask your child to say the names of the shapes during the activity so they can practice each shape word.
(That’s right, draw shapes right on the window! The dry erase marker will wipe right off, so there’s no mess for you.)
If you don’t have a dry erase marker, you can do this on plain white paper, taping it to the wall to make a “Shape Mural”.
4. Cookie Shape Time
ABC Mouse has a lot of activities for teaching shapes to young kids.
They have to use the spatula to match the correct cookie shape pictures with the plate it belongs to. It’s such a cute game. (We’re a proud affiliate.)
5. Nature Shapes
Head outside for a nature hike – with a shapes theme!
Building shapes is one of the best ways to learn about them. And one very easy way to build shapes is to use nature.
Invite your child to head outside for some fresh air. Begin collecting some rocks, sticks, acorns, and other natural materials. Start making shapes with the objects, and invite your child to do the same with new shapes. (This also works with letters and numbers!) It’s so much fun, especially because kids love getting a little messy.
If it’s too cold or rainy outside, you can do the same thing indoors with craft sticks, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, cheerios, legos, blocks, marbles – whatever you’ve got laying around.
Or, break out the playdough and check out these fun playdough mats from Fantastic Fun & Learning.
You can make even a shape necklace like this one from Buggy & Buddy.
6. Magic Paper Towel Shapes
This shapes activity is truly magical – and so easy!
First, fold one piece of paper towel in half so that it looks like a book.
On the inside of the book, draw a colorful shape.
Next, fold your paper towel book so that you can’t see your drawing anymore.
Finally, drop it into a bowl of water, and watch how your colorful shape magically appears!
See if your child wants to create their own magic paper towel shape!
7. Pattern Blocks
Your kids can do a number of things with these pattern blocks.
First, they can create patterns with the geometric shapes, which is a very important math skills.
They can also explore beginning symmetry!
Finally, they can create animals, a shape monster, or other favorite things out of the shapes.
8. Messy Mud Shapes
There’s no question that kids learn best when their senses are engaged. But instead of constructing a fancy, complicated sensory bin, just find some mud!
To make messy mud shapes, grab some containers you don’t care much about, some plain pieces of construction paper, and a handful of old paintbrushes.
Outside, scoop a healthy amount of dirt into each container, and then add a small amount of water and good amount of food coloring. If you don’t have food coloring, this will be just as fun with plain old mud. Some recipes call for dish soap to help prevent stains in clothes, but it’s optional.
Now you’re ready to paint some muddy shapes!
9. Shapes At The Zoo
For some extra practice, here’s a fun activity from our favorite app.
What shapes do you see at the Zoo? Pick the correct shape on this fun ABCMouse.com game. The app is free for 30 days!
10. Paper Shape Love Notes
Here’s the perfect practice activity for little hands.
First, trace and cut out different shapes of paper in different colors, like a square, triangle, circle, star, and heart.
Next, write messages to family members and send them out to brighten their day.
If your child isn’t writing much yet, have them practice their name, or the first letter of their name, or a drawing.
This is a great opportunity to connect with loved ones and get in some extra shape practice.
11. Meet Mrs. Diamond
Sometimes a personal connection is just the thing to help a child learn a new concept.
To start with this activity, draw big shapes on a plain piece of paper. Invite your child to draw oval shapes for the face, then circles for the eyes, a triangle for the nose, etc. Then they can add hair, arms, legs, etc.
Of course, if they want to get silly and mix up the shapes and parts of the face, that’s fine, too!
Next, name your shape-person and hang it on the refrigerator. Be sure to say good morning to it first thing each day!
Another way to complete this activity would be to use sidewalk chalk and make giant faces out of the shapes you have learned about.
Or, download the free printables at the bottom of this post, including this “Make A Face” worksheet:
12. Catching Shapes
This is one of the best activities for developing spatial awareness and learning shapes at the same time.
Ask your child if they’d like to go play catch.
First, find an open space, and simple practice playing catch with a regular old ball. Try throwing underarm, overarm, sideways, under your legs, and any other way you can think of.
Next, try throwing items besides a traditional ball. Can you spare an oval-shaped egg? What would it be like to throw and catch a wet sponge? A coin? A square pillow?
This is a great way for your child to learn naturally about spheres and 3D shapes, and get a basic understanding of how they move through the air.
13. Ultimate Shapes Memory Match
Ultimate Shapes Memory Match on ABCMouse.com is a fun way for kids to learn about shapes. It’s perfect for ages 2-6.
14. Salt and Sugar Shapes
This is one of our favorite preschool activities because it is so simple, versatile, and kids love it.
Simple pour some salt, sugar, sand, or something of a similar texture into a tray.
Invite your chilld to trace a variety of shapes into it. Simple tactile fun and sensory play!
15. Dirt Shapes
On your next hike, see if you can find the perfect drawing stick. You’ll want one that’s sturdy with a fairly pointy tip, and just the right length.
Next, find some dirt and draw some large shapes!
Your kids will love the simplicity of this, and it’s a great way to learn shapes outside in the fresh air.
16. Tracing Bowls / Rocks
Trace some bowls and plates to practice fine motor skills.
Tracing is an important skill for preschoolers to master, as it helps them develop their fine motor skills.
In this activity, your child will be practicing tracing and learning about shapes at the same time.
First, grab some different sizes of circular or square objects from around your home. Bowls, cups, candles, and boxes work well.
Then, invite your child to trace them on paper.
After they’ve traced them, you can compare shapes and sizes, which is another important math skill.
17. Shape Constellations
Creating shape constellations is easy, and your kid will love seeing them glow in the dark.
First, trace shapes on a piece of paper.
Then, ask your child to poke holes along the lines you drew. (They can use a thumb tack, but be careful!)
When they are finished, shine a flashlight through the paper and see your shape constellations shine bright on the wall!
What other shapes can they make into a constellation?
18. Water Shapes
It doesn’t get much simpler than this.
Fill up a container with water, and grab a paintbrush. Head outside and water-paint some shapes on the driveway, fence, or house!
It feels like painting, but there’s absolutely no mess.
It’s a win-win for everyone!
19. Spin the Shapes Wheel
The ABC Mouse app has some awesome shape games.
For example, spin the shapes wheel on ABCMouse.com to learn about what objects have that shape. Collect tickets as you go!
The app is free for 30 days! Try it here.
20. Shapes Memory Game / Matching Shapes
One very effective way to learn shapes is to play the classic game of memory or a game of Matching Shapes.
For example, this online shape memory game is great for toddlers. And it’s free! Your child will simply click on a square to reveal a shape and try to find its matching pair.
If you prefer a non-electronic version, you can easily re-create this on paper.
Here is a great worksheet that uses a peanut butter and jelly theme for a matching shapes game.
And here are some great free worksheets, including a variety of free shape printables.
21. Shape Collages
Shape collages are a fun way to get creative and crafty, and your kids will be learning about shapes without even realizing it.
There are many different ways to create a shapes collage.
For example, you can cut out several copies of the same shape and simply practice pasting them on a piece of paper that is in the same shape. (For example, several circles pasted onto a piece of paper that is also cut out in a circle shape.)
Or, you could use many shapes to create an image. For example, use shapes to create a car or train shape, or a sunshine.
Finally, you can simply cut out a variety of shapes, and let your preschooler paste them where they may.
Be sure to chat about what the shapes are called and their features. The possibilities are endless!
22. Play Dough Shapes
If you’re the parent of a small child, chances are you have some play dough (or something like it) lying around the house.
The next time your child grabs for it, encourage them to make some of the shapes you’ve been learning about.
Talk about the names of each shape, and show them how they can make patterns.
To level up your playdough shape time, check out these fun playdough mats from Fantastic Fun & Learning.
23. Kinetic Sand Shapes
Kinetic sand is regular sand that has been coated with silicon oil, and the result is a mass of sand that kids can form into different shapes, without the mess. The texture feels grainy and well, sand-like, but it doesn’t fall apart.
Just like making shape out of play-dough, making shapes out of kinetic sand is a fun way to learn. The best part? No mess for you!
24. DIY Shape Puzzles
This activity is especially effective to help children develop spatial awareness. There are plenty of shape puzzles on the market, but you can also do it yourself.
To create a shape puzzle, cut out different shapes from a piece of cardboard or poster board. Then, travel them on a large piece of cardboard or poster board.
Gather up the shapes and let your young child place them where they belong.
Afterwards, you can hang up your pasteboard or cardboard puzzles to make shape posters!
25. Shape Bingo
One of the best activities for learning shapes is Shape Bingo, and it is just what its name suggests.
Each player gets a card with different shapes on it. You can order a fancy one here, or make your own using online tools.
The caller calls out a shape. If a player has that shape, they cover that spot. The first person with a row or column covered, wins!
To make the game more exciting, you can play Four Corners, where players must cover each of their four corners to win. Or, you can include diagonal bingos.
Bonus Activity: Shape Snack Time!
Bust out the crackers, cream cheese, fruits, and veggies. Work together with your child to build a house out of the crackers! They can use the cream cheese as a bonding agent to help their food stick together.
Best snack time ever!
Thank you for visiting mkewithkids.com, and happy learning.
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We promised you free printables, and here they are! In this download, you’ll find coloring pages, fun shape activities like “Make A Face”, and inspiration for teaching your little learners. Have fun!