Shape Awareness

Shape awareness is being able to recognize and identify shapes. Shapes are everywhere from the square books you read together to the round lights on the ceiling. Infants learn about shape and size as they explore objects using their mouth and hands. As they grow, young children’s experiences with shapes grow too. Children sort objects into shape sorters. They categorize shapes and learn basic shape names with the help of adults. They are building shape awareness through these everyday experiences.

First, children learn to recognize shapes by appearance. Then they move on to identifying shapes based on rules and characteristics. For instance, “this is a triangle because it has three angles.” They identify shared elements of shapes. For example, “a square and a rectangle both have four straight sides.” And they practice manipulating shapes to figure out how they fit together. “If I turn this puzzle piece, it fits right here!”

We identify familiar objects by their shape. Shape is one attribute that helps us decide whether something is the same or different. Spatial, math, and language skills all contribute to a child’s ability to learn the names of shapes.

  • Direction and movement
    refers to the path along which a person or object moves
    Shape awareness
    is the ability to recognize and identify shapes
    Space and position
    refers to the relationship between objects
    Spatial awareness
    includes understanding shape, size, space, position, direction, and movement
    Spatial language
    refers to words that describe the location of objects in space
    Spatial thinking
    is a set of mental skills that we use to reason about the shape, size, position, direction, and movement of objects