Shape Detective

Help your child identify and look for shapes.

For this Activity you will need:

  • The Book: Brown Rabbit’s Shape Book by Allen Baker
  • A paper bag
  • Foam shapes (rectangle, square, circle, diamond, triangle, star, heart, and oval)
  1. Read Brown Rabbit’s Shape Book to your child. Talk about the different shapes Brown Rabbit saw in the story and explain that everything has a shape.
  2. Tell your child that you are going to play a shape game. Lay all the plastic shapes on the floor. Ask your child if he recognizes any shapes? If he says yes, ask him to name them.
  3. For each shape that your child does not know, pick it up and name it (for example, say "This is an oval"). Talk with your child about the shape (for example, say "an oval doesn’t have corners, it round." Or ask, "What does it look like to you?").
  4. Next, place the shapes into the paper bag. Be sure to name each shape as you place it in the paper bag.
  5. Have your child reach into the bag and pull out a shape. Ask him to identify the shape, saying, "What shape is that?" If your child names the right shape, tell him: "Good job!" If your child does not name the right shape, be sure to tell him the right name.
  6. Once he has pulled all the shapes from the bag, tell him you are going on a shape hunt and he will be a Shape Detective. Have him choose a shape and look around the room to identify things in the room with the same shape. (For example, if he is looking for a square, your child might name the television, the pillows on the couch, or a picture frame.)

Next Steps/Follow-Up:
  • Go on a shape hunt outside your home and ask him to name the shapes of trees, houses, buildings, road signs, windows, bicycle wheels, or rocks.
  • Ask your child to name shapes of food at dinner (for example, the square slice of cheese, the round cracker, and the oval egg).
  • Do an art project with your child. Cut scrap paper into different shapes. Ask your child to glue the paper shapes together to make a "shape creature." Be sure to have your child name each shape.

Background Information:

Mathematical thinking involves:

  • Sorting objects by different traits (color, shape, or texture).
  • Using words to describe things and what they are used for.
  • Identifying and copying simple patterns.
  • Using words to talk about position (over, under, in, top, bottom, etc.) and order (first, next, last etc.).
  • Counting objects.
  • Using words to communicate an understanding of numbers and relationships (more, less, equal, etc.)

When your child starts school, she will be more likely to do well if she is able to do these things.


You can help build your child’s mathematical thinking skills by doing this activity.

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Ready At Five improves the practice and quality of early childhood education in Maryland.


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