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Geometry and the Introduction of Spatial Sense

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Geometry is an important concept to explore for young children; it will help build and contribute to their understanding of shapes as they engage with shapes. As children begin to develop their spatial sense, they will learn to compare and manipulate mental images. Children must build their spatial awareness to themselves, the world and to their environment. More activities on geometry and spatial sense are included in the book, Creative Investigation in Early Math written by Angela Eckhoff, P.h.D.



Reproducing Shapes


  • Introduction to circles, triangles, rectangles, and squares.



  • Children will create circles, triangles, rectangles, and squares.
  • Children will name circles, triangles, rectangles, and squares.



  • Sand or shaving cream
  • Individual trays
  • Construction paper or cardstock shapes--circle, triangles, rectangles, and squares--in various sizes.
  • Digital camera(optional)


As both sand and shaving cream are used frequently in the classroom, this exploratory lesson will build on that familiarity and let children use their fingers to create circles, triangles, rectangles, and squares. Please note that children will likely want to freely explore the sand or shaving cream before and during this lesson, which is an appropriate and important part of their exploration.


Activity Steps:

  1. In advance, prepare a tray with sand or shaving cream for each child.
  2. Show the children the construction paper shapes, and invite them to name the shapes if they can. Introduce the name of each shape and talk about the properties of the different shapes.
  3. Lay out the example shapes on the tables where the children can see them. Tell the children that they will be looking at the shapes and that they can draw their own shapes in the sand or shaving cream on their own trays.
  4. Invite the children to draw the shapes with their fingers, and encourage them to talk the other children at their tables about what shapes they have drawn.
  5. As children are engaging with the materials, pose questions and work alongside them. You can support their inquiry by asking them if they can make certain shapes, what certain shapes are, and how they knew what the shapes were. Offer encouragement, and remind the children to name the shapes they make and see.
  6. Remember that the children do not need to stay focused only on shape making. Making other marks allows them to use creativity and imagination and will help them develop fine motor skills. 

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