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Beginning Geometry at Home

Kid's Math Games

It's Not Too Soon to Inspire Geometric Thinking

As they manipulate shapes in daily play and become increasingly aware of spatial relationships throughout their day, preschoolers are actively developing early concepts of geometry. At the preschool level, children learn to recognize geometric shapes by viewing and identifying them as a whole object. Providing children with opportunities to explore and experiment with shapes and their properties allows them to move to the next stage of geometric thinking: understanding the individual characteristics of each shape (for example, a triangle has three sides).

Make Geometric Mastery a Game

Here are some easy ideas on turning playtime into math time!

Block play is great for shape recognition

For example, the simple process of matching and sorting similar blocks at clean up time builds geometric thinking. During block play, pose open-ended questions that spur and advance your child’s geometric thinking. Engage your child with questions like:

  • How is your block tower different from mine?
  • What will happen if I take out the bottom block?
  • Can you tell me what I need to do to make my block building look just like yours?
  • Can you put 2 blocks together and make another shape?
  • We are getting ready to clean up now - how will you remember what you built?
Make spatial vocabulary a regular part of conversational language

Acting out stories such as "The Three Billy Goats Gruff," for example, offers numerous opportunities for children to show their understanding of spatial concepts like: under, over, across, near, far.

Turn geometric awareness into a game

Increasing your child's awareness of shapes all around him is as easy as incorporating shape conversations into your playtime. Keep shape blocks or cardboard or paper shapes on hand, and ask questions like:

  • Have you seen this shape before?
  • Where have you seen it?
  • Can you find a shape like this in our home?
  • Do you think this shape would roll or slide?
  • Can we stack these shapes?
  • Can you cut this paper to make another shape?
  • Can you make a square (circle/triangle) with pipe cleaners/yarn?

Copley, J. V. (2000).  The Young Child and Mathematics.  Washington, DC:  National  
Association for the Education of Young Children.

van Hiele, P. M. (1986).  Structure and Insight:  A theory of mathematics education.  Orlando, FL:  Academic.

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