Fun outdoor activities that teach shape recognition

Understanding simple shapes can give children an early advantage in many areas of learning. Shape recognition can help your child excel in literacy, science, information visualization, problem solving, math, and more.  There are many ways to teach your child about shapes, but why not bring the fun outside? Turn your ordinary playground visit or neighborhood walk into a learning moment with these five shape recognition activities.

Head out on a shape scavenger hunt

Turn the playground fun into an education activity with a shape scavenger hunt. Compile a list of shapes (circles, squares, rectangles, triangles) and set out with your little one to identify all of the shapes on the playground equipment. Alternatively, you can take photos of the playground equipment, print them out, and then ask your child to identify the types of shapes he or she sees (check out Buggy and Buddy for instructions!). 

Play a find & erase game with chalk

If you want an activity that will teach shape recognition and work on fine motor skills, this find and erase game is perfect! Grab the chalk, paint brush, and a bowl of water and head outside. Draw different shapes with the chalk and ask your child to “erase” the shape by painting over it with water. This will help them count the number of sides and learn the shape name! Credit: Hands On As We Grow

Build shapes with acorns or rocks

Does your little one love to build? Head out to a sand box (or the beach if you’re close) and build shapes together in the sand. Trace the shape in the sand and ask your child to fill in the shape with acorns, rocks, blocks, sticks, or anything they can find! Credit: Creative Little Explorers

Play a driveway maze game

This maze game is great for older kids as it works on their problem solving and gross motor skills. Draw different shapes in different colors all over the driveway or sidewalk. Ask your child to start in a square and tell them they must make it to the other side by only stepping on shapes. Start over by picking a different shape! Credit: Creative Family Fun

Build a DIY shape finder

This DIY shape finder is great because it brings learning on-the-go! All you need is a folder, marker, and a scissors. Draw various shapes all over the folder, cut them out, and hand off to your child. They can bring this to the grocery store, play ground, activity center, library, or on vacation. When they find a shape (like a stop sign), ask them to look through the holes until they can figure out which shape they are looking at. Credit: Playdough to Plato

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