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Ready-Set-Tech: Things Are Shaping Up
Things Are Shaping Up

Using literature, hands-on materials, and the Internet, students discover the characteristics and names of various shapes. This is a good introduction to shapes, where students learn to identify, compare/contrast, and reproduce shapes. All of these processes are pre-reading activities.

This project is geared to kindergarteners, a group that is often overlooked when it comes to Internet use. The accompanying Web site provides pages that children can print out to see if they have mastered both shape and color after completing the lessons.

Teresa Caliari Olya

Teresa Caliari Olya is an Early Childhood Science Teacher at P.S. 22, The Graniteville School in Staten Island, New York. She has won many grants and awards, but for her "none can compare with the smile of understanding on the face of a child."



math, science

Grade Level: Kindergarten

Time: 4 or more days.

Materials: Computers with Internet access, printer, scissors, crayons, and additional materials listed in each lesson plan.








Students will:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of objects and materials, of the designed world.

2. Extend and use geometric patterns.

3. Work individually and in teams to collect and share information and ideas.

4. Acquire information from multiple sources.

5. Demonstrate scientific competence by completing a systematic observation.

Web site:




Day One:

Aim: To compare the characteristics of different shapes; to discover the characteristics of shapes by tracing around blocks.

Materials: Different shaped blocks in same color groups, pattern sheets, paper folded like a book, and trays


1. Read A Triangle for Adaora by Onyefulu.

2. Give out trays with blocks. Find a square. How many sides does it have? How many corners? Repeat with the other shapes.

3. How is the round one different? In what ways are the diamond and square the same? Different?

4. Give each group of four a block pattern sheet to complete with the blocks. Switch sheets so each child gets to complete each of the four patterns.

5. Have children trace around each of the four shapes using blocks, one per page. Suggest they color in their outlines. Now under each shape, try to draw the shapes freehand.

Related activity:

So Many Circles, So Many Squares by Tana Hoban


Day Two:

Aim: To identify the shapes of classroom objects

Materials: Sea Shapes by Suse MacDonald, whiteboards and pens, shape stickers, paper


1. Read Sea Shapes. Note how the shapes evolved.

2. Shape retention game - draw a shape on the whiteboard and have children repeat the shape on their board. Progress from simple shapes to comple ones, one to many.

3. Have children find a shape in the room and stand by it. Other students name the shape.

4. DIstribute paper. Have students make a shape picture with the stickers.

Day Three:

Aim: To identify shapes by their outline; to use cut-outs and frames to trace shapes and to draw similar ones freehand

Materials: crayons, paper, cut-outs and frames, classroom objects, teacher-made tracing of classroom objects, It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw


1. Read It Looked Like Spilt Milk. Discuss the outline of the shape.

2. Display paper with the outline of classroom objects. Give each child and object and then have him or her come and match the shape to its outline. Ask how they knew which one to select.

3. Give each child a sheet of drawing paper and a cut-out or frame of one shape, tell them to trace it. Try to draw the shape without using the frame. Repeat with the other shapes. Shapes can be layered one on top of each other to make interesting patterns and new shapes.

4. Another option is to put the shape under the paper and have the children color on the paper and watch the shape appear.

5. Have children make the shape outlines with their hands, arms, legs. Have them work together in groups of two to create the outlines.


Day Four:

Aim: To investigate lesser known shapes like ovals and octagons

Materials: shape book, square and circle cut-outs, pretzel rods, paper


1. Read a book that includes some of the lesser-known shapes such as ovals. See if any can be found around the room.

2. Distribute 4 pretzel rods to each child. Have them make a square with them. Then have them make a diamond . . . then a triangle. Ask: How many pretzels do you need? Eat the extra pretzel. Now, take a bite off one pretzel. Can you still make a triangle? Repeat so that children see it is not necessary to have all the same sized sides for a triangle.

3. Have the children eat another pretzel. Can you make a shape with two sides? (Letters yes, shapes no.) Eat one more. Can you make a shape with one side? (No.)

4. Distribute circle with lines dividing it into 6 parts and numbered from 1-6. Have students color circle any way they wish. Distribute papers with "oval" written on one side and "octagon" on the other. Have children cut the circle along the lines. Now glue the piece with the number one at the top of the page. Leave a little space and glue the number two piece. Repeat until all the pieces have been glued down and you have an oval. (An oval is a stretched circle.)

5. Distribute squares and have students color as they wish. Now have student cut off one corner. Rotate and repeat with each corner. Count together how many sides your new shape has. You have made an octagon. Tell children to turn their paper over and glue it under the word "octagon." Some students might want to write the word "STOP" on their octagon.


Students will give and respond to directions about location; visualize and represent two-dimensional views of three-dimensional objects, solve problems by showing relationships between and among figures; refer to geometric shapes and terms correctly; demonstrate understanding of big ideas and unifying concepts; and read, write, listen and speak for information and understanding.



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