Exploring the Shapes around Us | Activities | The Cat in the Hat | PBS PARENTS
 Exploring the Shapes around Us

If you look closely at the things around you—both inside and outside your home—you may be surprised by how many shapes you can find. There are shapes in food, shapes in the architectural features of buildings, and shapes in road signs. There are even shapes in people, like round or oval faces and eyes. Shapes are all around you!

The Math Idea
Most objects are made up of shapes–sometimes a single shape and sometimes many shapes put together. A bee’s eye, for example, is made up of many hexagons connected together. You can see shapes in many of the things you eat. A pizza is round, and when you cut it into slices, the slices are triangles. Brownies are often cut into squares. Fruits like oranges and grapes are round, but a watermelon can be either round or oval. When you are spending time with your child, point out the shapes in everyday objects and ask your child to do the same.

Skills: geometry, shape recognition

Age Range: 3-6 year olds

What to Do
Shape Collage
Take It Further

Camoflauged Animals
Getting Ready

Talk with your child about the characteristics of different kinds of shapes, like how many sides and corners they have. Focus on circles, squares, rectangles, hexagons, octagons, and pentagons. Point out that some shapes have the same number of sides, but they are not always the same length. Spend time together pointing out and talking about the shapes in everyday objects like furniture, food, road signs, and the patterns in rugs and floors. Invite your child to look through a magazine with you, and hunt for shapes in the pictures.

Shape Collage

What You Need:

How to Do It:
  1. Look through the magazine with your child and find as many shapes as you can. You'll be surprised by how many shapes are in the pictures and decorative elements of the magazine (e.g., circles: a picture of a cake, pizza, or even a person’s face; triangles: a slice of pizza, a mountain; oval: an egg, a watermelon, a football; rectangle: a building, a box of cereal). Cooking magazines are particularly good for this activity because they contain pictures of items very familiar to your child.

  2. Cut out all the pictures that contain shapes, and glue them onto a sheet of paper to create a colorful shape collage.

Take It Further

Make a shape book. Get five sheets of paper. At the top of each, write the name of one of the following shapes: circle, triangle, rectangle, square, and hexagon. Now, go on a shape hunt around your house or neighborhood. Be sure to take a camera with you. When you find one of the shapes, take a picture of it. Glue each picture onto the sheet of paper with the heading that names the shape in the picture. Staple the pages together, and create a cover for your shape book!

More Ways to Discover and Learn

Look in a Book
Round Is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes, by Roseanne Thong; illustrated by Grace Lin

Shapes, Shapes, Shapes,by Tana Hoban

The Shape of Me and Other Stuff, by Dr. Seuss

New Words

Shape Vocabulary: circle, oval, square, triangle, rectangle, hexagon, octagon, pentagon

Related Game

Play the game “Sketch-a-Mite” on PBS KIDS

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