I'm always looking for new ways to use the learning materials we already have in our home. Presenting existing materials in a new way may make them more attractive to the child and may spark a new interest.
We've had geometric solids on and off our work shelves but they haven't been a favourite until I presented them in a shape sorting activity (above top left). Then I felt inspired to try them with playdough and some riddle cards. I've now found ways for them to be used almost daily which is fantastic for a preschooler to learning geometric shapes but also for a child who is learning to count and is developing their senses.
Our set of geometric solids contains a Cylinder (x2), Cube, Cone, Sphere, Hemisphere, Square Pyramid, Triangular Prism, Rectangular Prism, Square Prism, Octagonal Prism, Hexagonal Prism. As I'm working with a three-year-old I'm starting most of these activities with three to six shapes, but with an older or more experienced child, we could use more shapes in each activity.
Here are six ways we've been using our wooden geometric solids.
1. Shape sorting. We collect a basket of items from around our home in the shape of a cube, sphere, cylinder, cone, and triangular prism.
We line the wooden geometric solids at the top of the work rug. The child matches the household items to the corresponding geometric solids.
This has been super popular in our home and we can increase the number of objects or add more geometric solids to add interest.
2. Making base shapes in playdough. The child is encouraged to make prints of the base of the shape into the playdough.
The child can then identify the shape of the base of the geometric solid.
The child can use the rolling pin to roll out the playdough and do this activity over and over.
3. Making 3D shapes in playdough. I've only presented this with a cube, sphere, and cone as these are easy to make. For an older child, we could present more shapes. The cards act as prompts but they aren't essential, we could just show the child the shape and have them make it.
This encourages the child to hold and closely examine each shape in order to make it. Our child-made shapes aren't perfect but they are a good representation.
4. Who am I? riddles. These Geometric Solids Riddle Cards are perfect for the preschooler years. The adult (or an older child) reads the riddle card to the younger child and the child then works out the corresponding shape.
5. Stereognostic bag. Geometric solids are fantastic to use in the stereognositic bag. The child uses their hands and touch only to determine which shape they are holding in the bag. We could also put a blindfold on the child and again allow them to hold, touch and name each geometric solid.
At three years my child is able to do this with the basic shapes of the cone, sphere, cube, and cylinder. By using their sense of touch the child builds an image in their mind and is then able to name that image.
6. Base shape matching. This one could be used by younger children, I'd suggest from 2.5yrs. I drew around the base of each of the shapes. The child then matches the geometric solid to the corresponding base shape on the paper.
We use the Learning Resources Geometric Solids, Wooden Shapes, Set of 12. We also like the Learning Resources View-Thru Geometric Solids, especially on the light table.
For slightly older (primary+) children learning about geometric shapes we use:
- Learning Resources Real World Folding Geometric Shapes Set of 8
- Learning Resources Dive into Shapes! A Sea and Build Geometry Set.
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