21 Creative Ways to Teach 2D Shapes in Kindergarten


Teaching shapes to kindergarten is part of many standards-based curriculums.

When you teach 2D shapes, you’re covering some basic geometry skills your kinders will build from for years to come.

teaching 2D shapes in kindergarten

Let’s look at how to teach 2D shapes and dig into some 2d shape activities and games to help you cover this topic.

How to teach 2D shapes

If you’re wondering how to teach shapes to kindergarten – then here are the essentials you need to cover.

1. Teach the names

Teach the names of the shapes. You could consider this vocabulary, but they need to identify the name of each shape no matter the orientation (which way the shape is turned).

Activities for teaching 2D shapes - silly shape owl craft
source: teachwithme.com

You can always use a fun hook like these 2D shapes owl craft to get them started on learning the names of the shapes.

I recommend these 2D shapes kindergartners should know the best: circle, triangle, rectangle, square and hexagon.

Activities for teaching 2D shapes - free shape poem posters
source: miss-kindergarten.com

You could easily add some free shape posters or poems to your daily routine until your kiddos know them by heart.

And this is totally my opinion – but forget teaching 2d shapes like the heart and the star (those are almost like “gimmes” in today’s kindergarten).

Remember: if you use pattern blocks for any activities – don’t shy away from teaching the trapezoid, rhombus and parallelogram. It’s an easy way to get extra shape names with what you’re already using.

2. Teach what makes a shape unique

Teach the unique characteristics of each shape. What makes the shape unique?

You can use 2D shape bingo, a hide-n-feel game or even a little mini booklet to help cover how to describe the 2D shapes.

I made a mini 2D shapes booklet to use with my guided math groups.

I like that students pick up on the basic book pattern:

  • The first page asks a question based on a shape’s attributes.
  • The second page answers it.
Activities for teaching 2D shapes - make shape puppets
source: frompond.blogspot.com

But you can even create shape puppets to get them talking about what makes the shapes unique.

Consider using videos as well to teach describing 2D shapes – like how many sides and vertices each shapes has.

3. Teach what makes a 2D shape a 2D shape

Teach what makes the circle, square, triangle rectangle and hexagon all 2D shapes in a simplified fashion.

I like teaching this when I introduce 3D shapes (we compare the difference) and my students can already name and describe all of the 2D shapes for kindergarten accurately.

4. Teach shapes in the world

Teach real-life examples of shapes. Students should be able to pick out shapes in the world from the environment around them but also create real-world things by combining 2D shapes.

This quick shapes in the world video for kindergarten is perfect before going on a shape hunt. It reinforces a circle, square, and triangle in everyday items and has kids draw shapes in the air.

You’ll find a few more examples of how to teach shapes in the world with some of the activities listed below.

Activities to do

Here are some fun ideas for how to teach 2D shapes with kinders.

There is a variety to pick from that can help accomplish the goals we mentioned above.

Activities for teaching 2D shapes - class riddle book
source: crayonbits.blogspot.com

Create a lift-the-flap riddle book with your students. Have them dictate the text and cut out shapes. Let them show what they know to make a class book.

Teach how to draw the shapes – by teaching how many points to draw. I learned this tip from our district’s leading preschool teacher.

Teaching 2D shapes in kindergarten - draw a triangle

Kids that came from her preschool program came in knowing how to draw shapes in kindergarten and I learned this was her secret method of teaching them! {wink}

Activities for teaching 2D shapes - cute reindeer at the window craft
source: afaithfulattempt.blogspot.com

If you’re teaching 2D shapes during Christmas, create a Rudolph at the window art project using construction paper shape pieces. It sticks to basic shapes. I love the finished product.

You could also use this free shape reindeer card activity and adapt it a bit since it was designed for first grade.

Activities for teaching 2D shapes - love this
source: bishopsblackboard.blogspot.com

Take the shape your class is having the most difficulty with and let them get creative! Have them turn the shape into something in our world simply by adding details.

Activities for teaching 2D shapes - making real world things
source: peekaboomakelearnsewanddo.blogspot.com.es

Use whatever shape manipulatives you have and create 2D shape scenes or real-world things. Snap photos with your phone and print them as example cards.

Students can try to recreate yours or build their own 2D shape real-world things.

If you only have pattern blocks, try to add in some circles, squares, and rectangles made out of craft foam from the dollar tree.

Activities for teaching 2D shapes - making dinosaurs with foam shapes
source: llittlefamilyfun.com

Speaking of making your own 2D shape manipulatives – this teaching 2D shapes dinosaur activity is a perfect example. Cut your own shapes and let your students create.

Activities for teaching 2D shapes - playdough and toothpick shapes
source: schooltimesnippets.com

Grab toothpicks and marshmallows (or playdough) with these printable build a 2D shape cards. Students can focus on the number of vertices each shape has.

Play 2D shapes games

Play games that involve looking at shapes in different ways.

Play this little roll-a-shape 2D shapes in the world game. It’s perfect for beginning kindergarten.

It’s simple to play and students can do it independently. They roll a die, say the shape’s name and color or trace a matching shape in the picture.

This shapes in the world printable board game is a simple way to play in small numbers.

Activities for teaching 2D shapes - name that shape free game
source: downunderteacher.blogspot.com.au

If you just need something that works on naming and identifying – then this quick shape game is what you’re looking for. Add a pencil and paper clip as a makeshift spinner.

I’ve found a way to turn bingo into a super-effective way to work on describing shapes in kindergarten. So check out this describing 2D shapes bingo game that is free.

It’s a classic game that’s easy to share with parent volunteers too since they usually already know basic bingo rules.

Activities for teaching 2D shapes - chutes and ladders game
source: firstgradealacarte.blogspot.com

Here’s an alternate naming shapes game that is styled after chutes and ladders. I think they’d like this format.

Go on a shape hunt around the classroom simply by following the directions in this secret agent shapes detective video.

Play what’s hiding under the rug. This is the easiest game to teach and play with kindergarten. I love turning it over to pairs of students to play in our small group sessions so I can listen in on how accurately they are describing 2D shapes.

It’s an ideal way to informally assess how well students are doing on this skill.

Activities for teaching 2D shapes - game boards
source: themeasuredmom.com

Let students each play at their own pace and graph their results with this 2D shapes game.

Peg and cat shape game

Find the shapes hidden in these landscapes to bring back color to the black-and-white pictures. This interactive, online shapes game reminds me of the old school Highlights for Kids magazines {wink}

Let’s wrap it up

There you have the basics of how to teach 2D shapes and creative activities, games, and videos for teaching 2D shapes in kindergarten.

I hope you’ve found exactly what you need to complete your lesson plans. It’s my goal to help you organize, think and teach your best.

You may also enjoy this short list of 2D shapes videos.

If you like what I do here on KindergartenWorks, then be sure to subscribe today. I look forward to sharing ideas with you weekly.

More Math in Kindergarten


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