Animal shapes

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By Karen Hartwriter

Build on shape recognition skills using readily available materials.

Go on a shape-spotting nature walk

For young children, a walk to the park or forest is a perfect starting place for a bit of shape spotting. Point out familiar shapes such as squares and circles as you find them in places like windows, doors and gates, encouraging children to look out for shapes and patterns themselves along the way.

Once at the park or forest, give everyone a carrier bag and ask children to look for the most ‘interesting’ things they can find. Help children to ensure some good bits and pieces are collected, such as pine cones, acorns, interesting leaves and pieces of bark, while looking at the shapes and patterns that can be seen all around. Keep an eye on what children are touching and be ready with the baby wipes.

Once back at the setting, empty all the items collected onto white paper to show objects off nicely, and ask children if they can think of a way to sort their objects into groups. Start off with the more obvious ways of grouping – big and small, leaves and stones, depending on what’s been collected, moving on to more imaginative ways of grouping. Don’t feel you need to put the emphasis on shapes here, as looking and feeling different objects is all part of the learning. Concentrate on how objects feel, or their colours, or try putting objects that are rough in one group and objects that are smooth in another, or group together objects that have a spiky shape with a separate group for objects that have rounded shapes, pointing out interesting and familiar shapes as you go

Make a cat puppet with simple shapes

Animal shapes 1

These puppets are simple and fun to make, and are easily adapted to make a variety of animals. Talk to children about the shapes they’re using throughout this activity, seeing if they can name the different shapes.

You will need:
  • A white paper plate per child
  • Googly eyes
  • Short length of garden cane, or similar
  • Glue
  • Sticky tape
  • Paper card in various colours, in the following shapes:
    • 2 big triangle ears
    • 1 small triangle nose
    • 2 circles for eyes
    • 1 semicircle for a tongue
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