Naming shapes, as well as drawing and playing with them, is important for your child's growing understanding of math.
By Gayle Berthiaume

Ages

Infant-7

In our last blog post, we explored early mathematics skills related to counting. In this post, we will explore shapes. Playing with shapes, drawing shapes, and naming shapes are important mathematical skills. When your child begins to notice the shape of things, it is a perfect time to begin exploring the world of shapes with him. Point out things with familiar shapes — for instance, cookies, wheels, and coins are round and can begin to be labeled as circles.

Other shapes to begin with might include stars, hearts, and squares. This is not about drilling children with flashcards, but spotting shapes in books, games, and in your home and neighborhood. Point out differences and similarities — curves, straight lines, and “pointy bits.” Finding things that are the same or almost the same are other good ways to play and learn with shapes. Remember to turn shapes over, so that your child sees the connection between a heart and a triangle with the point on the bottom. Understanding that shapes are given the same name even if they are facing another direction is an important developmental milestone toward becoming a mathematical thinker.

Labo Shape

A fun place to practice tracing shapes in a variety of settings — underwater, singing birds, musical shapes, and more. This app is pretty much language-free so you can talk about the shapes and name them together  in the language or languages you choose!

This app is a great one for classifying shapes. The app is “smart” and adjusts the difficulty based upon the time your little one takes to solve the task.

Shape Gurus

Maybe even before learning the names of shapes, your little puzzle builder will enjoy this app which has little ones putting shapes into their outlines to build 18 different scenes. Together you can talk about the shapes and their names, e.g., “Look at the nest full of triangles you are making.”

This app takes playing with shapes and puzzles to a bit higher level. Assemble objects with simple shapes and unlock new puzzles with more complex shapes like hexagons and more. This one also includes some other skills like patterns and colors.

Of course don’t forget to use your device camera to go on a “shape hunt” with your little one taking pictures of circles or rectangles and then browsing the pictures and talking about them over and over again! Any drawing apps you might have will be great to use as your child begins to have the dexterity to begin drawing these shapes too. Don’t expect perfection, but get your child talking about the shape she draws and how you can tell it is a square or a circle to help her learn the characteristics too.

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