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7 of the best shapes and patterns games and activities for early years

From recognising shapes, colours and patterns to exploring symmetry and size, there's plenty of ways for kids to discover sides and angles

Geometric forms seem to fascinate children from a very young age, from building blocks to fitting shapes into the correct holes. But then, we’re surrounded by them.

How many things right in front of you are square, circle or rectangle shapes?

In fact, you’re no doubt reading this on a rectangular screen for instance, unless you printed it out onto rectangular paper, but then cut around the outside wildly to avoid conforming to bourgeois concepts like 90-degree angles.

So anyway, children love them, so it’s an easy way to get them involved in fun activities that are perhaps better learning experiences for them than this:

1 | Symmetry Matching

In this interactive game children are given one half of an image, and have to pick the symmetrical other half out from a selection of other options.

You can choose to play with pictures of everyday items like toys, or increase the difficulty with shapes and then patterns.

There’s also a Symmetry Sorting game where children need to put images into two boxes depending on whether or not they are symmetrical.

You can find this tablet-friendly game here.

2 | I spy shape hunt

Want something that takes absolutely no effort or time to set up, but is fun for all involved? Of course you do. This activity let’s children loose around your setting to find as many shapes as they can.

And you can always craft your own magnifying glasses beforehand, instructions are included on the site.

Check out this idea at Munchkins and Moms, here.

3 | Sequence

This game tasks youngsters with finishing off a pattern of different shapes and colours. The first round starts easy with two alternating shapes of different colours, but each new one introduces tougher aspects.

Check it out here.

4 | Learning shapes with toy cars

These shaped road tracks are made from wet and dry sandpaper and white electrical tape cut into small strips. It’s as simple as that. The only other thing you might need are some shape printable templates to cut round to make your roads. Oh look, here are some.

Pull up at Adventures and Play, here, where you’ll find this activity.

5 | Pattern shapes

This simple web tool lets children explore with a number of basic shapes by placing them on the interactive board and moving them around to their heart’s content. They can change the colour of each shape, spin each one around, and see how they fit together in various ways.

There are optional square and triangular grids, and there’s a drawing tool should they want to personalise their creation.

Find this resource here.

6 | Giant block puzzle

Grab some large sheets of paper, or a drawing roll, tape it down (with something that won’t damage your table/floor), then trace round as many building blocks as you have.

When you’re done, just scatter the blocks across the paper and let the kids find where they all fit.

Read more on this idea at Two-daloo, here.

7 | Pick a card

Work your way through 10 multiple-choice questions that ask you to find a certain shape in a certain colour.

There’s also a matching pairs game you can try.

You’ll find this one here.

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