Teaching preschoolers about shapes requires more than simple repetition or naming a shape and hoping they will understand. Because the concept of shapes can be difficult for some students to grasp at the preschool age, and because every child learns in his own way, there must be a variety of approaches and activities to ensure that every student gains an equal chance to learn about shapes. If you are teaching preschoolers about shapes -- specifically, octagons and pentagons -- these activities will help.
What is an Octagon, Pentagon?
Before you dive into your activity, try to explain in simple terms what an octagon is -- it is a shape that has eight sides. After explaining the shape, show children real-life examples of octagons -- a stop sign is perhaps the most universally recognized octagon. Look for other designs that include the octagon shape and have the children point those out to you. Do the same when explaining the pentagon -- it is a shape that has five sides. A great real-life example is the Pentagon in Washington, DC. Find some other real-life examples to show the children. Real-life examples help children relate these shapes to everyday tangible items. These simple lessons help preschool children understand the concept of pentagons and octagons in a more concrete way that they can relate to real life.
Gather together some popsicle sticks and some paper. Draw octagons and pentagons on the paper with a pencil or heavy marker. Help each preschooler add the sticks to the paper with glue. They can use the lines as a guide. After the glue is dry, help each student write the words octagon and pentagon under each shape.
Print out octagons and pentagons for the preschoolers to color. This activity will work great for morning work as students arrive in a classroom setting or at home for stay-at-home parents with preschool-aged children. Allow students to decorate the shapes. Include the words of the shapes on the paper in traceable lines. The kids won't know what the word says, but it helps to have them see the shape names in connection with the shapes as they are learning a new concept.
Through the Hole
Use small objects, such as foam balls, and large constructed pentagons and octagons for this activity. Hang the shapes from the ceiling. The shapes can be made from sticks or other material that will easily hold a form. Give your preschooler one of the balls and call out one of the shapes. The preschooler will have to aim at that shape. Assign points when a child gets the ball through the shape, hitting the shape or getting close to the shape.
Make monsters from pentagons and octagons. Help students name their monsters and write the names on the page. Give the students different types of materials with which to decorate, such as string, buttons, crayons and paints. Discuss the shapes as the students are making their creations, then display the finished product for parents to see.
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