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How to Teach Shape Awareness to Kids and Toddlers through Online Dance and Movement Classes

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These learning outcomes were used for all four lessons in this series

The following is a series of lessons I created to help develop mathematical thinking and 2D shape awareness in toddlers and kids through creative movement.

The lessons are aimed at teaching children the names of various 2D shapes, describing some of the attributes of these shapes, and encourages thinking about where we see them around us in our environment and using these examples as inspiration to create movement.

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Having been a teacher, I am always looking at ways to creatively teach children and regularly used dance and movement in my classrooms to support understanding of concepts and material we were learning about in different areas of the school curriculum.

The following are some links and connections that can be made from this movement series on shapes to various other areas of learning!

Mathematics and Arithmetic

  • Cut out shapes and sort them.
  • A shape scavenger hunt around the house or classroom (draw what you find)
  • Cut out shapes and then manipulate shapes in different ways – flip, slide, turn, etc… and discuss how their appearance changes, but attributes stay the same – for example is a heart still a heart when turned upside down?
  • Use tangrams to solve picture problems.
  • Categorize shapes that are symmetrical and asymmetrical. Explore whether for example all triangles symmetrical?
  • Explore the meaning of polygon and quadrilateral.
  • Explore the difference between two dimensional and three-dimensional shapes

English and Literacy

  • Shape spelling lists.
  • Create a list of adjectives to help you describe shapes and write sentences that use them.
  • Read books that identify shapes and their attributes.
  • Where did the words we use to describe shapes originate from?
  • Explore the pattern and history of naming shapes – pentagon, hexagon, octagon, etc…

Social Studies

  • How are shapes used in society to help symbolize and assist us to quickly identify meaning – for example a Red Octagon indicates a stop sign. Three circles, red, amber and green represent a traffic light etc..
  • Study flags and the 2D shapes used in them to create their symbolic meaning. Create your own flag using 2D shapes.
  • How have shapes and patterns influenced design or architecture in our society? What shapes would you more likely see in western countries compared to Asia or the Middle East?

Science & Technology

  • Why are buildings and bricks mostly rectangular or square in shape?
  • How are arches and circular shapes in buildings created? How do they stay strong and stay up to hold the weight, for example, the arch of a bridge, an arch in a ceiling, a curved wall etc?
  • Code a game or even a PowerPoint presentation to teach about shapes.
  • Draw shapes using animation or design software.

Physical Education

  • Use shapes to designate activities in an exercise rotation for example – when you get to the rectangle on the floor do 10 lunges, when you get to the star, do 10 jumping jacks etc..
  • Create static shapes with our bodies or if in groups, create shapes using our bodies in a group – three children could make a triangle with each one lying on the floor as one side each for example.

Creative Arts

  • Cut out shapes and use them to make a mosaic style picture.
  • Identify how shape is used by artists in their work.

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