We often do a simple shapes craft related to our current theme or the letter of the week. Since I will share many of these shapes crafts, I thought it would be helpful to explain a little about what we are learning when we do these art projects for preschoolers.
I find that it is a great chance to teach basic concepts of geometry, practice fine motor skills, encourage vocabulary development, and promote creativity.
This is a picture of some of the shapes crafts we made during our farm theme.
At its most basic, this activity lets us learn to name shapes. We also describe them using the name of the shape, color, and size. Once the kids understand these basic descriptions you can move onto naming shapes by other attributes like the number of sides or vertices, concepts they will likely learn in kindergarten.
This activity is also a great way to show kids how to make shapes and how shapes can be created from other shapes. This is great to expose children to early. As a teacher I saw this as a challenge for many kids. In the picture below you will see a trapezoid that I cut into three triangles. When we made this craft I gave the kids the trapezoid and we practiced making two cuts to create the triangles.
Fine Motor Skills
Any time kids are cutting, gluing, and manipulating small items with their fingers you are giving them the opportunity to strengthen their fine motor skills.
Not only does this activity allow you to develop vocabulary related to geometry as described above, it is a great time to discuss other mathematical language. As I guide the kids, I try to use words that describe position, like above, below, next to, to the left of, and to the right of. Instead of saying, “Put the triangle here.” I try to say, “Put the small triangle to the left of the large triangle.”
As you engage in discussion you can also focus on terms specific to the item you are creating. When we created our hens, we discussed the comb, wattle, beak, and claws. These were all terms we talked about in stories we read, but physically creating them and adding them to our craft really helped the kids remember what each part was and where it was on the hen’s body.
Sometimes this step can be the most difficult part. A lot of times kids just say, “Tell me how to make it.” Depending on how much your kids have done this type of activity you may have to do more modeling to show them how to create other things with the shapes you are using. But don’t give up, once they get used to creating on their own this can be the most fun and rewarding part of the activity as they gain pride in creating something on their own. I will show you an example in the next post in this series.
Do you do shapes crafts with your kids? How do you incorporate the skill areas above? Do you include any other skills along the way?