One child secretly puts a shape in the Shape Box. Another child, their partner, then feels the shape inside the box without peeking to figure out the shape. They describe the shape as they feel it (for example, “It has three sides and three corners.”) and use this information to name the shape (for example, “It’s a triangle!”). The child who hid the shape confirms the answer. Children switch roles and play again.

Primary Objective

  • Recognizing and naming familiar shapes (for example, circle, square, typical triangle, rectangle) and less familiar shapes (for example, hexagon, rhombus, trapezoid) of different sizes and orientations
  • Recognizing sides and angles (vertices) as distinct geometric features
  • Counting shapes’ sides and angles based on their shape family (for example, all triangles have three sides and three angles)

How to Use

If some students cannot match most shapes, you may want to preview the Matching Shapes version of the activity. If most children can name most shapes correctly and can describe shape families (for example, triangle) by their defining features of sides and angles (for example, all triangles have three sides and three angles), you may want to preview the Describing Shapes version.

Materials


  • One set of six to eight shapes. You can use pattern blocks, tangrams, attribute blocks, and/or shapes you make from foam board; we do not recommend paper shapes.
  • Shape box: Children should be able to reach into the box with both hands, but not see inside.
  • Shape and Shape Box role cards

Teacher Resources


Explore the Executive Function and Math Skills in This Activity

Steps of the activity

The activity steps icons below outline the steps of the activity. Print these icons as cards and share them to help children remember the steps. They’re also a helpful scaffold for children!

Find a sample script for teachers to use here.



Step 1

Child hides a shape in the Shape Box while Teacher closes their eyes or looks away.

Step 2

Teacher puts their hand(s) in the Shape Box and feels the shape. Without taking out the shape, Teacher names the shape.

Step 3

Teacher checks with Child to see if they are correct. Child confirms the answer. If correct, Teacher takes the shape out of the box.

Step 4

Teacher and Child switch roles.
Instructions

Instructions for introducing the activity to the {group title}

Activity Set-Up

Choose which shapes you’re going to use and set them out with the box.

MAKE IT EASIER

  • Math: use familiar shapes (for example, circles, triangles, squares, rectangles).
  • Math & EF: use only easier examples of shapes (for example, an equilateral triangle with all sides of the same length).

MAKE IT HARDER

  • Math: use less familiar shapes (for example, hexagons, trapezoids).
  • Math & EF: use more difficult examples of shapes (for example, a long, skinny triangle).

Activity Warm-Up

Today, we’re going to do an activity with shapes.

First, we’re going to talk about the shapes we’re going to use today, then you can feel and look at them.

Using shapes from the shape set, show examples of shapes you will be using during the activity. Name the shapes that will be focused on during the activity. Then, pass out the shapes and let children freely explore and play with them for a few minutes.

If you’re introducing new shapes to children, consider using the Shape glossary handout for language, tips, and examples.

Introduce the Activity

We’re going to play a shape naming game! You’re going to hide a shape in the box and I have to guess which shape it is without looking. Let’s practice together!

Show children the Shape Box and shape set shapes.

Model the Activity

Let me show you how to do it!

Choose one child to participate in a demonstration of the activity as your partner (or if you have another adult in the room, they can be your partner).

First, I’m going to cover my eyes. [Child’s name], you’re going to choose a shape from this set to hide in the box. Hold up the shape you’re going to hide and show it to everyone, then put it in the box.

Point to the first activity step icon card.

MAKE IT EASIER

  • EF: use the activity step icons.

MAKE IT HARDER

  • EF: omit the activity step icons.

Next, I’m going to reach in the box with both hands and feel the shape, talk about what I feel, and guess which shape it is.

Point to the second activity step icon card.

Describe the shape, counting the number of sides and angles, and then state the name of the shape.

Okay, I feel 1, 2, 3… 3 straight sides and 1, 2, 3… 3 corners. I think it’s a triangle!

Then, I’m going to ask my partner, “Am I right?” and my partner will tell me yes or no.

[Child’s name], am I right?

Now, I pull the shape out to check.

Point to the third activity step icon card.

Ask the child if you are correct. If you are correct, pull the shape out of the box. If you are not correct, again talk through what you feel and guess again.

Once the child confirms you are correct, pull the shape out of the box and show the other children.

We did it! Now we switch roles and play again!

Point to the last activity step icon card.

What to do next

Are some students ready for more challenge? Try the adaptations provided for Whole Group. For children who can name most shapes correctly and can describe shape families (for example, triangle) by their defining features of sides and angles (for example, all triangles have three sides and three angles), introduce the Describing Shapes version. On another day, do this activity in Small Group

If some students cannot match most shapes, they might be ready for the Matching Shapes version of the activity. If most of your children can name most shapes correctly and can describe shape families (for example, triangle) by their defining features of sides and angles (for example, all triangles have three sides and three angles), they might be ready for the Describing Shapes version.

Materials


  • One shape set of six to eight shapes per pair of children. You can use pattern blocks, tangrams, and/or attribute block. You can also make shapes from foam board. We do not recommend paper shapes.
  • Shape Box: Children should be able to reach into the box with both hands, but not see inside
  • Shapes and Shape Box role cards

Teacher Resources


Explore the Executive Function and Math Skills in This Activity

Steps of the activity

The activity steps icons below outline the steps of the activity. Print these icons as cards and share them to help children remember the steps. They’re also a helpful scaffold for children!

Find a sample script for teachers to use here.



Step 1

Child 1 hides a shape in the box while Child 2 closes their eyes.

Step 2

Child 2 feels in the Shape Box with both hands and feels the shape. Before pulling out the shape, Child 2 names the shape.

Step 3

Child 2 checks with Child 1 to see if they are correct. Child 1 confirms.

Step 4

Children switch roles.
Instructions

Instructions for introducing the activity to the Small Group. 

Activity Set-Up

Choose which shapes you’re going to use and place out in front of students along with the Shape Box.

MAKE IT EASIER

  • Math: use familiar shapes (for example, circles, triangles, squares, rectangles).
  • Math & EF: use only easier examples of shapes (for example, an equilateral triangle with all sides of the same length).

MAKE IT HARDER

  • Math: use less familiar shapes (for example, hexagons, trapezoids).
  • Math & EF: use more difficult examples of shapes (for example, a long, skinny triangle).

Activity Warm-Up

Today, we’re going to do an activity with shapes.

First, we’re going to talk about the shapes we’re going to use today, then you can feel and look at them.

Using shapes from the shape set, show examples of shapes you will be using during the activity. Name the shapes that will be focused on during the activity. Then, pass out the shapes and let children freely explore and play with them for a few minutes.

If you’re introducing new shapes to children, consider using the Shape glossary handout for language, tips, and examples.

Introduce the Activity

We’re going to play a shape naming game! One of you will hide a shape in the Shape Box and the other will try to figure out the shape by feeling it only with their hands. Then we’ll check to see if you are right. And then, we’ll switch roles and play again. Let’s practice together with these shapes!

Show children the Shape Box and shape set shapes.

We’re going to use these to help us remember the steps.

Point to the activity step icons

MAKE IT EASIER

  • EF: use the activity step icons.

MAKE IT HARDER

  • EF: omit the activity step icons.

Model the Activity

First, one partner will close their eyes while the other partner hides one shape in the box.

I’ll close my eyes while [child’s name] hides a shape in the box. 

Point to the first activity step icon card.

Choose one child from the group to put a shape in the box.

Next, I will open my eyes and feel the shape inside the box. I’ll feel the sides and angles (corners) to try to figure out which shape they hid. I can’t peek!

Point to the second activity step icon card.

Hmmm… I feel 1, 2, 3, sides and 1, 2, 3 angles. I think it’s a triangle!

Model describing the number of sides and angles you feel. Then name the shape you guessed.

Now, before I pull the shape out of the box, I ask my partner, “Am I right?”

If I’m right, I take the shape out of the box so we can see it. If I’m not right, I feel the shape and try again.

Point to the third activity step icon card.

Ask the child who placed the shape in the box if you are right. Allow the child to respond.

It is recommended that you model a correct response in this demonstration.

Finally, we switch turns!

Point to the last activity step icon card.

Time to Play!

Here are your shapes, Shape Box, and cards. Now you’ll take turns hiding and guessing the shape.

Give each pair of children a Shape Box, one shape set (with only the shapes children are using during this session), and one set of role cards and activity step icons.

[Child 1], it’s your turn to be the shape hider and put a shape in the box.

[Child 2], it’s your turn to be the shape namer and figure out the shape your partner hid.

Assign one student in each pair to be the shape hider and one to be the shape namer, using the role cards if needed.

MAKE IT EASIER

  • EF: use the role cards.

MAKE IT HARDER

  • EF: omit the role cards.

Now, [Child 1], close your eyes while your partner puts a shape in the box!

[Child 1], open your eyes and feel inside the box to figure out which shape your partner hid.

Tell us the name of the shape before you take it out of the box. Then ask your partner, “Am I right?”

MAKE IT EASIER

  • Math: if a child names an incorrect shape, ask guiding questions instead of simply saying their answer is wrong. For example, if the child is supposed to name a triangle but instead says square, you could say, “How many sides does that shape have? Do squares have three sides? No? Well, what shape has three sides?”

If children struggle to provide a correct answer even after guiding questions, allow them to try naming the shape after removing it from the box.

  • EF:  if children struggle with waiting to pull the shape out of the box, consider holding your hand up in a “stop” or “hold” motion until it’s time for them to remove the shape.
  • MATH & EF: if children are struggling to figure out the shape, place two or three shapes from an identical second set of shapes on the table, making sure the same shape that is hidden in the box is present. Allow children to point to which shape they think is hidden in the box. Guide them in describing and naming the shape based on the shape they can see.

[Child 2], is your partner right? Is that the name of the shape you hid?

If the child is correct: Alright, let’s take it out the box and look! How did you know it was a [shape]?

If the child is incorrect: Okay, let’s try again. Can you tell us how many sides/angles you feel?

Immediately after children provide the correct shape name and take the shape out of the box, do not forget to ask them, “How did you know it was a [shape]?

MAKE IT EASIER

  • Math: if a child is unable to explain how they knew, ask prompting questions such as, “How many sides does the shape have? Are the sides of the same length? How many vertices (angles) does this shape have?”

It’s time to switch roles and play again! If you were the shape hider, you are now the shape namer. If you were the shape namer, now you get to be the shape hider.

Switch roles until each child gets at least two to three turns in each role, also switching the role cards if they’re being used.

Encourage children to hide different shapes from one partner’s turn to the next so the same shapes are not hidden back-to-back.

What to do next

Do some students need more support or more challenge? Try the adaptations provided for Small Group. Continue working in Small Groups with teacher support until students can comfortably play with minimal teacher guidance. Then have students practice the activity independently in Center For children who can name most shapes correctly and can describe shape families (for example, triangle) by their defining features of sides and angles (for example, all triangles have three sides and three angles), introduce the Describing Shapes version.

Did some students play the Matching Shapes or Describing Shapes versions in a Small Group? If so, they should also play that version during Center. Don’t forget, children should play What Shape Am I Touching? in Small Group before playing in Center!

Materials


  • One set of six to eight shapes per pair of children. You can include pattern blocks, tangrams, and/or attribute blocks. You can make your own shapes out of foam board. We do not recommend paper shapes.
  • Shape Box: Children should be able to reach into the box with both hands, but not see inside
  • Shape and Shape Box role cards
Steps of the activity

The activity steps icons below outline the steps of the activity. Print these icons as cards and share them to help children remember the steps. They’re also a helpful scaffold for children!

Find a sample script for teachers to use here.



Step 1

Child 1 hides a shape in the box while Child 2 closes their eyes.

Step 2

Child 2 feels in the Shape Box with both hands and feels the shape. Before pulling out the shape, Child 2 names the shape.

Step 3

Child 2 checks with Child 1 to see if they are correct. Child 1 confirms.

Step 4

Children switch roles.
Instructions

Instructions for introducing the activity to the Center. 

Activity Set-Up

Gather appropriate shape sets ahead of time, Do not provide all of the shapes at one time.

MAKE IT EASIER

  • Math: use familiar shapes (for example, circles, triangles, squares, rectangles).
  • Math & EF:  use only easier examples of shapes (for example, an equilateral triangle with all sides of the same length).

MAKE IT HARDER

  • Math: use less familiar shapes (for example, hexagons, trapezoids) or use more difficult examples of shapes (for example, a long, skinny triangle).

Introduce the Activity

Today, the Shape Box shape naming game we’ve been playing together will be at [name] Center!

Tell students that the activity will be in Centers to play on their own. We recommend playing the activity in Small Groups at least once before introducing it in Centers.

You will have the picture cards to help you remember how to play and to remind you whether you are the shape hider or the shape namer.

Center Set-Up

Let’s remind ourselves how to play the game!

MAKE IT EASIER

  • EF: use the activity step icons or the role cards.

MAKE IT HARDER

  • EF: omit the activity step icons or the role cards.

What to do next

Keep playing this activity in Centers throughout the year. Students who played the Naming Shapes version may switch to the Describing Shapes version once they’ve been introduced to it in Small Group and can name most shapes correctly and describe shape families (for example, triangle) by their defining features of sides and angles (for example, all triangles have three sides and three angles) independently. Do some students need more support or more challenge? Try the adaptations provided above for Center.


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