Teaching your kids about shapes and need some ideas for learning about circles?
The best way to teach young kids the early maths skill of shape recognition is to let them see, feel and experience shapes in a hands-on, concrete way. There is no better way than by learning through play.
Try these fun games about circles with your preschoolers and kindergartners. They are suitable for home and school.
Some can be played with one child, others with a small or large group of kids.
1. Hide and Seek
Play a game of Hide and Seek with a twist.
Make paper or cardboard cut-outs of circles and hide them in the garden, house or classroom. Let kids search for them. Hide enough shapes so that everyone has a chance to find a few.
You can use the circles after the game for an art activity, such as pasting them onto paper to create a picture out of circles. Draw the details on with markers or crayons.
2. Find the Circles
For this game, instead of searching for hidden paper shapes, challenge kids to find items in their environment – the living room, classroom or garden – that have circular shapes.
Collect all the circular items and discuss them after the search. This is a great opportunity to teach children the vocabulary of shapes.
Here are examples of questions:
- What do you call a three-dimensional circle?
- Is this a circle or a sphere? (2D and 3D shapes)
- Does it have straight or curved edges?
- Is this item perfectly round?
- How many circular faces does this clock have?
- Is it flat?
3. I Spy A Circle
Play a game of I spy with my little eye, with circles.
Sitting in a circle, each child gets a turn to spot something in the room that has a circle shape on it. They must use descriptive language to give clues and let the others guess the object.
Here are some examples:
- I spy with my little eye a circle that…has hands on it and is used to tell the time.
- I spy with my little eye a circle that…is green and lives on a poster on the wall.
- I spy with my little eye a circle that…is purple and is on someone’s jacket.
For very young children, make up the clues yourself and keep them basic, as in the clues above.
4. Musical Circles
For this variation of the classic game, play music as children dance about. When it stops, they must all quickly join hands and make a large circle together.
This is best played outdoors with a big group.
You could also split kids into smaller groups. When the music stops, they must find their group as quickly as possible and form a circle.
This is also a fun listening activity for kids.
Another way to play this game is to lay out large circles on the ground, one per person. Hula hoops work well for this activity.
When the music stops, each child must run and stand on/in a circle. A child who doesn’t get to a circle in time is out. Each round, one circle is removed until there is one winner left.
If playing with very young kids, there is no need to remove circles and have them go “out”. There is enough fun in trying to find a circle, without standing on one that’s already taken, or bumping into others.
This game is good for learning position in space.
5. Body Circles
Teach kids to feel the shape of a circle with this movement activity.
Challenge them to form a circle with their body parts, such as their fingers, hands, legs, or their whole body.
They can also try to make a circle with a partner or a group of children. They will have to get creative to think of ways to do this.
6. Cross the River
Play a balancing game with kids where you pretend to cross a dangerous river.
Make large cutouts of various shapes, including circles. Tell kids that the circles are rocks that are safe to stand on. Assign objects to the other shapes – such as plants, water, crocodiles, etc.
Lay the shapes across a room, making sure to place the circles close enough together – but not in a straight line – with the other shapes in between them.
Kids must cross the river by making sure to step on rocks only. Get their imaginations going as they try to remember what they are stepping on and what they are trying to avoid.
They might get wet if they accidentally step onto a rectangle (water) but the consequences will be greater if they step onto a crocodile (triangle).
This is also something you can do with chalk. Draw the shapes on the paving in various colours and have kids cross the chalk river.
7. Circle Puzzles
Using construction paper/cardboard, make your own circle puzzles. Laminate them if possible to make them sturdy and long-lasting.
Cut them into any shapes and get kids to build them. Store each circle puzzle in a separate plastic bag.
They can be cut into shapes like a pie graph, random shapes, or classic jigsaw puzzle shapes, like in the picture below.
8. Matching Circles
Make different-sized and coloured circles out of paper or cardboard, then get kids to match them. They must be of identical size and colour to be a perfect match.
You can also turn this into a memory game for children by using small square cards and pasting circles on the other side in pairs of various sizes and colours.
Kids take turns to turn over two cards at a time and if they match, they keep the pair. This is challenging as all the pictures are circles so make sure to only offer a few cards for younger kids.
9. Circular Hopscotch
Play a game of hopscotch, but instead of drawing the standard court, try this circular court. It will give children a real sense of the shape of a circle as they move around the formation.
This is how to play Hopscotch with a preschooler. You will need to adapt it slightly to play circular Hopscotch.
10. Circle Creation
Give kids a set of circle shapes each, with a variety of sizes and colours. Provide markers, scissors and glue sticks and ask them to think of something to create with their circles.
Try not to let them see what the other kids are making, then have a show-and-tell at the end where each child explains what they created.
Tic-tac-toe is a fun thinking game that can also be played in pairs to teach circles.
Instead of playing it with noughts and crosses, play a game of circles and triangles by cutting out sets of these shapes. One player will be triangles, the other will be circles.
12. Things That are Round
As a group, play a game where you think of as many things as possible that are round/have a circular shape. Think wider than the class or home, to include nature, the community, the world, and while you’re at it, the universe.
Here are some examples of circles around us:
- The power button of a computer
- Peas and other round vegetables
This kind of game will get kids to think a lot. Turn it into a challenge by making 2 teams and giving points for each new object they think of.
I hope you’ll enjoy these hands-on games for teaching circles!
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