Monday, April 21, 2014

Seeing Shapes

The ability to identify basic shapes is a skill that is often used to check for developmental progress.  Shapes exist in familiar places such as books and puzzles.  But, they also exist all around us if you just stop to look.  That is what our friends in the three year old classes and the Pre K classes discovered.   To initiate the conversation about shapes, I presented a piece of paper with printed shapes.  I asked my friends to tell me what they saw on the page.  Each shape was identified; heart, square, circle, rectangle, and triangle.  Next, I asked if shapes can be found anywhere in the classroom.  My friends offered a variety of answers including.......
a circle
squares on a rabbit hutch
an oval shaped egg
triangle teeth.
Then, I asked if they thought shapes could be found outdoors.  Some friends shook their heads in the affirmative.  Others were not so sure.  I showed them two posters with photos of natural items and asked them to tell me what shapes they saw.  It was easy to find the heart shaped flower, but harder to see the star shapes reflecting off of the water. 
My friends went to our garden to search for shapes.  Individually, they slowly walked through the outdoor space looking at parts of the building and plants to see if they spotted a shape.  And they did! 

a heart shaped leaf

Circles abound.


And triangles
One friend drew a triangle after seeing the scored pattern in the concrete sidewalk.
Circles are found in the shape of a flower.  Lines are seen in the stem of a poppy.  This experience required the children to take existing knowledge, i.e. what is a shape, and apply that knowledge to different settings and contexts.  In order to complete this task, my friends had to move slowly through the environment, looking at all details, both large and small.  Finding shapes in nature is abstract thinking, while maintaining a tangible, concrete framework.

One friend brought laughter to the group when she proclaimed, "look, a bagel in the water".