Shapes are everywhere.  They make up the world around us and help us to understand the world that we live in.  We all understand that a red octagon by the road is a stop sign and that an inverted triangle means give way.  Young children make a very early connection between familiar objects and things that they like and their shapes.  Have you ever had to deal with a toddler melt down because you cut their toast into squares instead of triangles?

Shapes and shape recognition are an important aspect in early literacy skills.  Letters are made up of lines and shapes and if a child can recognise the differences between various shapes they are well on their way to recognising the difference between the shapes of letters.

Shape recognition and differentiation also provide very important early mathematic skills.  Numbers (like letters) are made up of lines and shapes and again being able to distinguish the difference between shapes will assist your child in recognising a diversity of numbers.  Geometry is another branch of mathematics that is all about shapes and it is in the Australian Curriculum from the very beginning, so children that have a good understanding of various shapes and who can compare and contrast those shapes will have a great head start for their education. 

Here are a few ideas to help your child with shape knowledge and these early literacy and mathematic skills:

Share books about shapes.

Provide lots of paper and crayons and let them try out drawing lines and shapes.

Go for a “shape walk” where you can choose a shape such as a circle and have your child point out all the circles that they see.

Play a shape sorting game with house-hold objects and have your child sort them into different groups; round, square, flat and so on.

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay


Link to Catalogue record for SHAPE BY SHAPE


This is a lovely book that uses shape cut outs to slowly reveal a marvellous creature.  Various shapes are used to represent the different aspects of the creature such as triangles for teeth and diamonds for scales. 

Shape by Shape uses very few illustrations and lets the shapes tell the story and complete the picture.  It is a bright and colourful book that will engage young readers and encourage shape recognition.  Perfect for young dinosaur fans too!


This is a very cute story about three little mice that hide from a big scary cat in a pile of shapes.  To amuse themselves they begin to make various objects out of the available shapes, such as a tree from a triangle and a rectangle, and a wagon from a rectangle and two circles.  The mice decide to scare the cat away by making something frightening out of shapes.  What could it be?

This is a sweet little book that demonstrates that the world around us is made out of shapes.  It exposes children to the idea that they can make pictures from simple shapes.  This is a good book for encouraging shape recognition with the bonus of a narrative to go with it.

Link to Catalogue record for MOUSE SHAPES
Link to Catalogue record for SHAPE SHIFT


Shape Shift is a book that encourages children to use their imagination with shapes.  What can you see when you put a triangle on top of a semi-circle? A ballerina of course!  Can you see a lady with a fancy hat when you put a rectangle on top of a circle?

For slightly older readers, this book uses lovely digital illustrations to bring shapes to life.  This is a great book to spark a child’s curiosity about the world around them.



DIY Shape Game

What you’ll need:

Coloured cardboard or paper


What to do:

Cut many different shapes out of the cardboard in different sizes.  Let your child make pictures with the shapes.  You can glue the shapes down to make a permanent display or keep it as a game.