Shape game 1


The purpose of this activity is to help your child to use appropriate language to name, describe, and sort three-dimensional shapes.

Link to NZ Curriculum:

Your child is learning to sort objects by their appearance.

What you need:

What to do:

Have your child explore the play dough, making and talking about different shapes they are making.

  • Encourage your child to describe the shapes they have made, including using shape language such as, "round, like a ball, pointy, smooth, straight, bendy, curved, square shaped, like a sausage, flat,…"
  • Have your child sort shapes into groups that have something the same about them. Again, encourage the use of shape language and logic as they explain and justify the groups they have made.
  • Ask, "Can you make ball shapes of different sizes?” 
    When these are made, ask, "What do you notice about all of these shapes?"
    Encourage and listen for descriptions that include, "No corners, no flat sides, round. Curved, not straight…"
  • Ask, "Can you make some ‘box’ shapes of different sizes?” Or, "Can you make some shapes like a dice or a cube?" You may have to model what you mean, including how to use a knife to make the sides and edges straight.
    When several cube shapes are made are made, say, "Tell me what you notice about all the shapes." Encourage and listen for the language of "edges, corners, sides, square shapes, flat parts, pointy parts…"
  • Encourage your child to make and talk about other shapes like a can, a cone, or a pyramid, and to talk about the features of these shapes.
    For any of the shapes, have them see if they can see similar shapes around the room they are in, or around your home environment. Together notice the features of these shapes.

Now play a game in which you take turns to make a solid shape with the dough, but do not let the other person see the shape.
The person who did not make the shape asks questions about the shape, using the shape language explored earlier, until they can correctly identify the shape.

What to expect your child to do:

  • Use a range of shape language to appropriately describe shapes they make or see.
  • Sort common shapes by their appearance. 

Related Māori vocab:

play doughpoikere
sharp, pointykoi, whakakoikoi
curvy, bendykōpiko
cubemataono rite

Download a file of this activity:

PDF (78KB) or Word (20KB)

Download a file of this activity including questions to ask in Māori:

PDF (138KB) or Word (22KB)