Variations on the three basic shapes -- circles, squares and triangles -- can be used as the basic line structure to draw almost any geometric object. For kindergartners, learning about shapes gives them a visual understanding of the world around them. Use an assortment of activities that teach children how to recognise, label, sort and build with all kinds of shapes.
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Search and Sort Shapes
The first lessons in shapes for kindergartners should begin with the recognition and sorting of the three basic 2-D shapes. Distribute an assortment of small construction paper squares, triangles and circles in a variety of colours and sizes. Hold up an example of each shape and explain the identifying features. For example, assist the children in counting the sides of the square and the triangle, or point out the absence of corners on the circle. Ask the students to search through their assortment of shapes and hold up a match to your example. As the students observe one another's examples, explain that squares of different colours and sizes are still all squares. Once the students grasp the concept, pass out a large construction paper triangle, square and circle to each student, then assist the children in sorting and gluing their small shapes onto the correct larger shape.
Circle and Sphere
Correlate the understanding of flat, 2-D shapes to their 3-D equivalent with a show and tell matching game. Give each student three flash card shapes: one triangle, one square and one circle. Next, hold up a simple object that demonstrates what the 2-D shapes look like in 3-D. For example, hold up a ball to represent the circle, a cube for the square and a pyramid for the triangle. Ask the students to hold up the correct flash card to identify the corresponding 2-D shape to the 3-D example. Once the students demonstrate their ability to answer correctly with the flash cards, move on to more complex shapes for the students to sort into appropriate categories, such as an apple for a circle. As students' understanding progresses, introduce variations of the shapes, such as rectangles, cylinders and cones.
Organic or Geometric?
Introduce the concept of free-form objects with a lesson in the difference between organic and geometric shapes. Show students several examples of 2-D and 3-D geometric shapes and ask the students to sort them into their appropriate categories as a reinforcement of previously learnt concepts. Next, hold up an organic shape, such as a leaf, and ask students which shape category it belongs in. After the children reach the conclusion that the leaf does not fit into any category, explain the concept of organic shapes.
Reinforce the idea by holding up a basketball and an apple. Explain that the basketball is a geometric shape because it is a perfectly round circle, whereas the apple, although still technically a sphere, is classified as an organic shape because it is imperfect and bumpy. Continue the exercise with other examples of geometric and organic shapes until the students can correctly classify the objects into the correct categories.
Connect the concept of combining basic shapes to constructing complex shapes with a series of 2-D and 3-D art and play activities. Cut an assortment of 2-D shapes out of various construction paper colours, including circles, ovals, rectangles, squares and triangles. Demonstrate how shapes can be combined to form new objects, such as placing a triangle above a square to create the shape of a house. Show children how to add detail to the complex objects by gluing on additional shapes, such as small rectangles for doors or windows. Give each student a glue stick and a sheet of construction paper and access to the construction paper shapes. Direct the students to use their imaginations to assemble the shapes into complex objects, such as faces, people, trees or flowers.
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