25+ Hands-on Activities for Exploring Shapes & Patterns

Activities for Learning Shapes and Patterns - An Everyday Story

Over the last few months, Jack and Sarah have been really interested in shapes and patterns. I thought I’d share some of the activities and explorations we have done together over that time.

We’ve had a great time exploring shapes and patterns in depth. I hope you get a little bit of inspiration too.

An Everyday Story

Australian Curriculum Links:

– Foundation (Kindergarten): Sort and classify familiar objects and explain the basis for these classifications. Copy, continue and create patterns with objects and drawings(ACMNA005)
– Year 1: Recognise and classify familiar two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional objects using obvious features (ACMMG022)
– Year 2: Describe the features of three-dimensional objects (ACMMG043)


Exploring 2D Shapes:

Playing with shapes

  • How many different shapes can you find around the house/room/classroom? – Go on a shape hunt
  • How do you cut a circle? A square? – Set up a cutting invitation with cardstock, scissors and pictures of different shapes
  • Can you create a robot (or their current interest) using only shapes? – Display shapes pieces with pictures to inspire creativity
  • Let’s see what shapes we can find – Go on a nature shapes hunt together and take your camera
  • Print the photos from your nature walk and create a concentration game with pairs of shapes
  • Practise writing shape names – Set up an invitation with black markers, scissors, cardstock and tape. Use the tape to stick the labels to items around the house/classroom

Using a camera to document shapes in nature | An Everyday Story

Creating shapes

  • Create shapes on a geoboard with rubber-bands and push-pins
  • Draw shapes in coloured salt, sand or rice
  • Create shapes with transparent glass gems on a round mirror
  • Create your own stamps with air-dry clay
  • Create shapes with yarn on sticky contact paper
  • Create shapes with tissue paper and contact paper

Creating Shapes with a Geoboard - An Everyday Story.jpgExploring 3D Shapes:

Comparing 2D & 3D shapes

  • Set up an invitation with 2D shapes and 3D wooden geometric solids – compare and document the differences
  • Explore transparent geometric solids and shapes on a light panel
  • Which shapes do you think will roll? – Set up a ramp and explore the physical characteristics of 3D shapes

Drawing Shapes in Salt - An Everyday Story.jpgExploring Patterns:

Exploring patterns in nature

  • Set up an inquiry table with interestingly patterned materials from nature like a snake skin, leaves, bark, snail shell, river rocks etc.
  • Photograph patterns in nature and create a large installation piece by piecing the photos together
  • Explore patterns in flowers – dissect flowers and observe the shape of the petals
  • Create transient art in sand with small rocks

Patterns with Spielgaben and Andy Goldsworthy (An Everyday Story)

Creating patterns

  • Create patterns in kinetic sand with glass gems
  • Create mandalas on the OHP with glass gems
  • Create a hanging mobile using repeated patterns with beads
  • What patterns can you make? – Set out black cardstock and coloured transparent gems for making patterns
  • Provide wooden off-cuts and interesting loose parts like washers and bolts in different sizes as an open exploration to create patterns
  • Can you continue this pattern? Create an art piece in response to a pattern. Glue an interestingly patterned square of paper to the centre of a piece of paper. Leave coloured markers for children to copy and continue the pattern
  • Cut triangles from magazines and glue them into repeated geometric patterns
  • Print images from artists who use patterns (like Kandinsky) as inspiration. Provide watercolours and paper and encourage children to cover their page in a repeated pattern
  • Set-up a pattern making invitation with wooden shapes. Include clipboards and oil pastels for sketching

Sketching Patterns - An Everyday Story

 It’s been a really wonderful inquiry.


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11 comments on “25+ Hands-on Activities for Exploring Shapes & Patterns”

  1. Melissa @ Honey Bee Books

    Thank you so much for sharing such a fabulous list of ideas. My daughter loves using her kinetic sand at the moment so I will definitely be introducing the glass gems to make patterns.

  2. Elizabeth

    Kate you are a wonder! thanks so much for posting this, it’s so perfectly timed as shape is our starting module for next term. I real don’t know where i’d be in our homeschooling journey without your constant inspiration! 🙂

    • Kate

      Thank you so much Elizabeth. That really makes me happy to hear. What curriculum are you following?

  3. Lisa Beeke

    Thank you for your website…I am a 0-3 AMI Montessori directress who loves my days spent with five different children each day from 13 months to 4.5 years in my home. I am trying to be open minded in preparing wonderful “work” for the children and get inspiration from you.

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