Skills practiced: Recognizing and naming geometric shapes, using fine motor skills (preparation for writing), following instructions, seeing small differences, preparation for math by organizing.
G1: Road Game
- A large piece of paper for each person, with the beginning and end of a railway or road marked on each end of the paper.
- Pencils and colored pencils.
- Make a small car or train OR use a small toy. Draw a sample road or railway on a sheet of paper ahead of time. Include straight and curvy sections.
- Demonstrate by letting the car or train drive on the road you have drawn ahead of time. Name the shapes as the car goes along the road: straight, round, curved, corner.
- Give everyone a large piece of paper with the beginning and the end of the road marked on it, so in the end the papers will make one large road together.
- Have each person draw a road on their own paper with curves, intersections, etc. Have them draw trees, houses, fields, flowers, etc., along the road.
- Lay all of the papers next to each other to make a big landscape. Everyone takes turns driving the car or train.
Variation: Everyone works in groups of 2. Give each pair a little car or train to drive along the ‘road’ that is drawn.
Pick a day with blue sky and white clouds. Find a place outside where everyone can lie down, perhaps on mats or blankets. Use a board to draw clouds on, or if that is not used, cut clouds out of paper in different shapes and sizes. People may also make clouds by gluing cotton balls or wool on sheets of paper.
- Tell a story about someone lying on their back. They look at the sky. They watch the clouds. They think that one is like a horse. Point out different shapes such as round and big, like a plate.
- Describe the sizes. Use words like big, small, wide, narrow, thick, thin, left, right, round, hollow, under, above, etc.
- Have everyone make his/her own cloud. They can draw clouds in the ground or sand or on large sheets of paper. They can also make clouds by gluing cotton balls or wool onto sheets of paper.
- Have several people with very different clouds stand before the group. Let everyone help to describe the shapes.
- Save the cloud drawings for G3: Cloud Game.
Variation: Instead of drawing clouds, let people in the group take turns describing different clouds they see in the sky. Others try to guess from the description which cloud it is.
G3: Cloud Game
People will guess which cloud by the verbal description of its shape.
Needed: drawings of different shapes of clouds. The drawings can be on big sheets of paper (see G2: Clouds). The cloud shapes can also be drawn on the pavement with chalk or in the ground with a stick.
- Draw large cloud shapes on the ground
OR put the cloud drawings from G2: Clouds where everyone can see them.
- Describe one of these clouds. The listeners will move to the cloud they think you are describing. Start by describing general things that are true of each cloud. Make it more specific with every descriptive word.
- The listeners will guess which cloud you mean by standing next to a cloud picture. They might decide to move from one cloud to another as your description gets more and more specific.
- End by describing something that clearly shows which cloud you had in mind. Give affirmation when listeners stand in the right place.
Variation 1: Let others take turns to describe a cloud.
Variation 2: Divide the listeners into teams. The teams take turns describing a cloud. The team which guesses the right cloud first gets a point. The team with the most points “wins”.
G4: Search for the Shape
Needed: 4 or more wooden sticks, either all the same size or in two different sizes; thick string or yarn; small pieces of paper.
- Have at least one piece of paper for each person. Ahead of time, draw one shape on each piece of paper: heart, triangle, star, square, rectangle or any other shape you would like to teach. Make sure there are papers for each shape. Fold the papers in half and hide them in the meeting area.
- (Note: if you cannot hide the papers before the group comes, do another activity such as singing or playing another game outside of the area while someone else hides the papers.)
- At your signal, everyone searches for the slips of paper. When all of the papers have been found, everyone forms groups based on the shapes: the group of triangles, the group of squares, and so on. Note that if anyone ends up without finding a paper, someone with more than one paper should share.
- Have each group count how many are in their group and say their group name: “We are the triangle group”, or “We are the hearts group”, and so on.
- After everyone recognizes the shapes, talk with them about the numbers of edges or sides each shape has and about the form of the shape (sharp, round, straight, etc.).
- Ask one person to come in front and try to make one of these shapes with the sticks you had provided or with the string. Let the game continue till everyone has tried to make at least one shape.
Note: It may help to first discuss the shapes. Show examples of everyday items that have those shapes. A plate, a ring, a bracelet might be examples of a circle. A box, a piece of paper, a window might be examples of rectangles (straight lines and 4 corners).
G5: Which Shape?
Needed: String, wire or chalk for making the shapes;
several different items from home, outdoors or classroom such as forks, spoons, sticks, flowers, leaves and stones.
- Together with the group, make different shapes from string or wire on a large flat surface (table top or floor; if working outdoors, they might use chalk on the pavement or sidewalk).
- Name each shape as it is made: triangle, circle, square, rectangle.
- Put a different set of items in each shape (for instance, forks in the circle; spoons in the square; sticks in the triangle). Ask the group to identify which shape each type of item is in. Are the forks in the circle or the square? Are the stones in the triangle or the rectangle? Which shape are the spoons in?
- Repeat with different items in different shapes.
Variation 1: If this is too simple, the shapes can be overlapped with one of each item in each shape. People have to tell which items are in the intersection of the circle with the square or with the triangle and the rectangle or… (see attached worksheet).
Variation 2: This game can also be done using worksheets that have the shapes printed out on them.
Variation 3: People can take turns moving the items into the different shapes and asking their classmates questions.
Variation 4: Tell two people to put the forks in the circle and the spoons in the square (for example). Have the others check to see whether it is done correctly.
G6: Spot the Shapes
Skills practiced: Shapes (circle, rectangle, square, triangle); visually differentiating between things; concentration.
Pick a day with blue sky and white clouds. Find a place outside where everyone can lie down, perhaps on mats or blankets. Take along paper cut-outs of a circle, a rectangle, a triangle, a square and any other shape you would like to teach.
- Show the shapes. Name the shapes. Have the listeners repeat the names. If teaching is not being done in the group’s first language, ask them for the names of the shapes in their own language.
- If you wish, the name of each shape may be written on it in both languages. Ask everyone to look at the clouds. Ask them to point out clouds that are mostly round, like a circle.
- Then ask them to point out clouds that are more triangle shaped. Have them look for each of the shapes you have brought with you.
Variation 1: Count the number of circle-shaped clouds the group finds in the sky. Then count the number of triangle-shaped ones, and so on. Which shape has the most clouds?
Variation 2: Find shapes in other things. For instance, look for circle shapes in the meeting room. Look for squares and rectangles in the buildings outside. Or show everyone a large picture with different shapes in it. Have them take turns pointing out different shapes in the drawing (circle, rectangle, diamond, triangle . . .).