Babies Walkers to 2 2s to 3s 3s to 4s

Overview and benefit

This activity introduces children to some simple shapes and encourages children to name them. There is also a sorting exercise which helps to reinforce shape recognition and also introduces the children to the concept of sorting things out into groups.

Training videos

shapes of the world from MAD Academy on Vimeo.

Equipment required

  • Shape photos and cards

Link to resources


Up to six weeks

How it works

This activity is about extending children’s knowledge of abstract 2D shapes and teaching them to ‘see’ the same shapes in everyday objects around them e.g to see that a window is also a rectangle.

What to do in class

There are lots of pictures of everyday objects which have a clear and simple shape to them. Place the pictures of the everyday objects around the walls of the hall, and give the children small shape cards. Brief the children and parents that you are going to be looking at shapes this week and that they are going to learn a song and then go and look for the shapes in the world around us using the pictures on the wall.

Have the children and parents seated initially and sing the shape song with them drawing the shapes together with your fingers as you sing or holding up the correct shape when it is mentioned.

Pick a shape for them to focus on and tell the children you want to look at the pictures and see if they can show their parents any with a ‘Circle’ in them.

The children will then go and with the parents support, see what objects they can find that look like each of the chosen shape. It would be good to focus on a single shape first of all and then get the children to show their parents all the pictures containing that shape. Let the child hold that shape card in their hand so that they have a reference. The parent should hold onto the shapes that are not in play at that time to avoid confusion.

Alternatively after the song, this activity could be done as a seated group game. Have the children seated on their parents’ laps in a large circle. Have the different shapes on A4 cards laid out in front of you and recap with the children what each shape is called and some of its properties (e.g. it has four corners, or it as straight sides). Show the children a picture of an object and ask them to identify it. Now ask the children what shape it is. If they need help, hold up each shape picture in turn next to the object picture so they can easily compare the two.

Object Pictures

• Circle – wheel, full pizza, clock, orange, dinner plate, big full moon, Sun, a cookie cutter, a pie dish, a cake, top of a can of drink

• Rectangle – window, book, door, envelope, swimming pool, parking space, television, football pitch, a lunch box, Microwave oven, lego brick. A bar of chocolate

• Triangle – road sign, sandwich, pyramid, slice of pizza, A Gable/roof on a building, A tent entrance. A Church Steeple, toblerone chocolate, bunting, A Christmas Tree, a pool table thingy (that keeps the balls in), ~Tortilla chips

• Square – window, shreddies, a square box, a cream cracker, a biscuit tin, building blocks, A CD Case, cushions, coasters for drinks

Shape Song (roughly the tune of I’m a Little Tea Pot)

Shapes are all around us

Shapes are everywhere

Triangles Circles,

Rectangles and Squares

Look at the pictures

Look with me

Tell me all the shapes that you can see.

What to do in a nursery setting

Give each child the four shape cards. Sing the song as before, then the instructor holds up an A4 (or larger) picture of an object asking the children to look and hold up any shapes they can see in the object. If the children are struggling, then the instructor can trace the shapes in the air and give clues like, “Look at the wheels? What shape are they?” etc, then get all the children to trace the shape with their fingers in the air. How about reversing it for the class implementation too. Repeat with a few different pictures.

Adaptations for older/younger children

With the older children they can hold onto all four shape cards and move from picture to picture, matching the correct shape card to each picture before moving to the next. They should hold onto all the cards once a match is made but leave the picture on the wall.


If you need any background music while the children are moving around the room to look at pictures here are a few suggestions all downloadable from ITunes

  • Shapes – Kibooners
  • Shapes – Jess the Cat
  • I’m A Shape – Mister Maker (you will need to loop this one as it is quite short)
  • Shapes – Pancake Manor
  • Shapes – TLC for Kids
  • Learning my shapes

Remember to talk about the features of the shapes you are looking for, e.g. the square has four sides, or the rectangle has four corner.

You could laminate some blank pieces of paper and give them to the children with dry wipe markers and they could draw the shapes they find. If a child finds this activity very difficult, laminate small versions of the photos and give their adult a dry wipe marker so  they can draw the shape over the outline of the photo.