We live in a world of shapes. That window in the living room is also a square, that steaming bowl of chili is a circle, and the bed your son regularly refuses to sleep in at night is a rectangle. Learning to identify and categorize different geometric shapes is a big goal for early learners. And your neighborhood is the perfect place to start!
What You Do:
- Prior to the hunt, decide who will be the “recorder”. Help the recorder make a list across the top of a piece of paper, starting with the shapes you want to find (for example triangle, rectangle, circle, rectangle, diamond). If the recorder can't write the names himself, help him, and be sure he draws a picture of each shape as well. Not only will making a list remind your child what she's looking for, but it will reinforce the names and attributes of each shape.
- Ready to scavenge? Weather permitting, take the hunt outdoors. Ask your child to be on the lookout for shapes that match her chart. For example, a driveway may look like a rectangle. A leaf may be triangular. A sign in front of a neighbor's house may be a circle. Walk the neighborhood and ask your child to keep her eyes peeled. As she finds familiar shapes, she should write (or draw) the object in the appropriate column.
- Don't limit your chart to the most obvious fits. Use this as an excuse to think out of the box (or rectangle!) Ask your child to be on the lookout for objects that have more than one shape. She can also look for a shape inside a shape.
- Once you return home, take a look at your results. Consult your recorder. What shape did you find most frequently? Ask why she thinks that shape appeared the most.
Voila! An instant lesson in two-dimensional shapes that didn't feel like a lesson at all.
Alicia Danyali, BS Elementary Education, taught primary-level students for four years at the International School of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The last four years of her teaching career, she taught at the Washington International School in Washington, D.C. She recently completed writing a series of children's picture books and is a mother of one young son.