When do kids learn shapes and what are the best activities to teach basic shapes?

These are two popular questions parents and new teachers often ask.

when do kids learn shapes

Today’s post will be all about shapes, such as “when do kids learn shapes?”,  “what are the basic shapes?”, and the best toys and printable resources for teaching 2d and 3d shapes.  

What Are the 2D and 3D Shape Names?

Basic shapes and common shapes are easy to remember. 

In fact, most children are familiar with most common shapes by the time they start school.

Squares, circles, and triangles are often a part of their repertoire. However, children have different exposure over those first few years of life. 

To fill that gap, shapes are taught in the classroom from the very beginning.

More practice doesn’t hurt anyone!

2d and 3d shape names

As knowledge in those 2D basic shapes is solidified, more complex shapes and advanced shapes are introduced and included in practice.

A list of 2D shapes and 3D shapes covered in the early years is listed below. 

2D Shapes

  • Square – A square is made by four equal sides and four equal angles.
  • Circle – Circles are completely round and created by a single curved line.
  • Triangle – Triangles have three sides and three angles.
  • Rectangle – Rectangles are made of four sides. They are not even in length.
  • Pentagon – A five-sided shape.
  • Hexagon – A six-sided shape.
  • Octagon – An eight-sided shape.
  • Nonagon – A nine-sided shape.

3D Shapes

  •  Cube – Cubes have six faces that are all squares.
  • Cylinder – This shape has two round faces. One at the top and one at the bottom. It has a curved side.
  • Cone – Cones have a flat circle base and a pointy top. Think of an ice cream cone!
  • Pyramid – A pyramid can have a triangle, square, pentagonal, hexagonal, or octagonal base.
  • Sphere – A sphere is a round and circular shape. It has one face and no edges.
  • Cuboid – Cuboids have six faces. They are all rectangles. This may be a new shape to many!

When Do Kids Learn Shapes?

Whether you’re a parent or a new teacher, it’s important to know when do kids learn shapes.  

Shapes, colors, numbers, and letters are often something introduced at an early age, long before children begin heading to school. 

As kids move into a more structured preschool and eventual elementary school program, those skills will become cemented into their long term memory and skill set.

The shapes covered before school are often basic 2D shapes, but children are introduced to 3D shapes as early as kindergarten!

They will continue practicing their 3D and 2D shape skills and recognition throughout kindergarten and first grade. 

Basic 3D shapes join the mix early on in their elementary school career.  More specifically, 3D shapes are often taught in kindergarten. 

when do kids learn shapes

To simplify it, kids should begin recognizing shapes as toddlers, then build upon their recognition of 2D and 3D shapes in kindergarten. 

Critical milestones at a young age are learning colors and a variety of shapes, and knowing how to apply those skills in everyday life. 

Let’s look more into the milestone of learning shapes.  

Free Shape Printables

To help you teach the kids both 2D and 3D shapes, I have a couple free resources you’ll want to grab.

If your kids are beyond recognizing basic shapes and are learning about 3D shapes, we have a free resource they’ll love.  


What Are the Different Shapes Taught in Kindergarten?

Kindergarten is the beginning of a long 13 year school career.  Learning the kindergarten curriculum will build a firm academic foundation.

The shapes taught in those early school years vary by grade as laid out by grade level common core standards.

The different shapes covered in kindergarten (based on common core standards) include:

  • Squares
  • Triangles
  • Rectangles
  • Hexagons
  • Cubes
  • Cones
  • Cylinders
  • Spheres

Kindergarteners will be expected to:

Identify and describe shapes

They need to be able to name shapes regardless of their size and whether or not they are 2D or 3D.

They must be able to describe the environment the shapes are in and the positions of shapes (using words such as above, below, beside, in front of, and behind).

What shapes do they see in real-life objects?

Analyze, compare, create, and compose shapes

Kindergarteners need to be able to compare and contrast shapes of different sizes and orientations.

They should learn how to build and draw shapes using various materials and use smaller shapes to make larger shapes.

When teaching different types of shapes, I help the kids set learning goals with these kid-friendly “I Can” statements.

The various shapes are covered under the geometry section of the common core standards.

Printable Resources For Teaching Shapes

Looking for no-prep printable shape resources? Below are some new and classic shape resources that you’ll love.

Most of these simple activities work really well as independent work or part of a center or activity rotation!  All are great for at home or in the classroom! 

Shape SuperStars

These superstar worksheets have children practicing 2D shapes in five different ways:

  1.  Trace
  2.  Find and color
  3.  Tap and say the name of the shape
  4.  Cut and paste shape sorting
  5.  Draw the shape
Get these printables HERE or on Teachers Pay Teachers

Shapes Make and Trace Play Dough Mats

If you have a lot of tactile learners, this make and trace is a good idea. Children can use fine motor skills to make 2D shapes out of play dough and then practice drawing.

This type of sensory activities are great for shape recognition, and names of shapes, with young and older kids.

If you’re also teaching colors, you can have the kids match the play doh color to the color of the shape on the mat.

Get these printables HERE or on Teachers Pay Teachers

Superhero I Have, Who Has 2D and 3D Shapes

Group games and activities are the best way to work on skills in a classroom. This game includes cards for 2D and 3D shapes.

I Have, Who Has is a great all-class game that will have the whole room excited

Get these printables HERE

Shapes Write the Room

Children can go on a hunt to find the shape cards around the room, color them, and then write and label the sheets. 

Making Words and Shape Cards

With this making words set, children can learn to read, write, build, and illustrate 2D shape words.

Kids will build, write, and draw each shape.  Shape cards, or word wall cards, are included as a bonus! 

Get these printables HERE or on Teachers Pay Teachers

Lucky Ducks Shape Game

In this game, children pull a duck from the pond and graph the shape found on the bottom of their duck.

If they pull three ducks with the same shape, they win the game! 

Get these printables on Teachers Pay Teachers

Toys For Teaching Basic Shapes

Young children learn best through play! Educational games are a hit for everyone. 

Toys keep children engaged. When kids are engaged and interested, learning is more likely to stick. 

Shape toys and manipulatives are great for free play, but they are also a great companion to more structured written work or activities.

Combining structured, written work with tactile or kinesthetic opportunities is an easy to way to appeal to nearly everyone. 

 Many of the toys below are great companions to worksheets, but several of them are great stand-alone shape practice! 

Those plastic shape sorters are a popular toddler toy for a reason! It is an important skill to learn and important step in child development!

Before you go, here are more posts you’ll enjoy:

25 Printable Kindergarten Vocabulary Worksheets

15 Best Ways to Improve Fine Motor Skills

34 Best nursery Rhymes for Kids

The Benefits of Teaching Code to Elementary Kids

When Do Kids Learn Shapes?