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7 Silly Ways to Teach 3D Shapes in Kindergarten

Teaching 3D shapes in kindergarten? Or wanting to build your child's spatial intelligence and math vocabulary? These 9 simple games can be played with kids 3+ and are the perfect centers activities for teaching 3D shapes in kindergarten!

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Refresher: What are the names of 3D shapes?

Here's a little refresher photo labeling the 3D shapes for you. Notice that there are 2 kinds of pyramids!

names for teaching 3d shapes in kindergarten

Here are the Learning Resources 3D Shapes we used for most of our activities. You can use household items or blocks too!

7 Simple Activities for Teaching 3D Shapes in Kindergarten:

All of these 3D shapes activities are under 5 minutes to prep, and if you're looking for some printable 3D shapes worksheets for kindergarten centers, check out #3 and #4 for some mega-fun hands-on learning printables.

1. Tower Building with 3D Shapes

Using the blocks that you have invite your child/students to create a tower. As they build, you can help them name the shapes they're using. Child directed play is often the most engaging way to learn, and by using the strategy of "Saying what you see" you're helping build new vocabulary.

This 3d shapes activity is wonderful for introducing the shapes to your kindergarteners, who at this point, may only be familiar with 2d shape names.

As a bonus, you could have them graph or tally the number of each shape they used in their building.

3d shapes kindergarten activity

2. Parent and Baby 3D Shape Matching Center

My kids LOVE to make families when they're playing whether it's dinosaurs, cars, princesses, or just rocks. They often hands me something big and something little and say, "That's the mama, and that's the baby."

Use this to your advantage to play Mama and Baby or any other caregiving relationship with the 3D shapes. For this one you'll need shapes of varying sizes.

I bought this set from Learning Resources because they had a wide range of shapes and sizes. For more 2D shape matching, you'll definitely want to check out this activity that kept both my kids busy for 30 min!

3d shape matching activity

3. 3D Shape Hunt -an excellent whole class activity!

This can be done very informally by going on a "Shape Hunt" around your home, neighborhood, or school. If you want to keep track and make it official, bust out a clipboard (or just a book with a chip clip) and make a 3D shape tracker, so kids can keep track of what they see.

What shapes are around your home? Are they 2D and flat? Are they 3D and pop up? The kitchen has a lot of great shapes...

Download your shape hunt right now for only $1.11!

4. Roll, Slide, Stack the 3D Shapes in Kindergarten

This out of the box shapes activity is the perfect at home invitation to play or a kindergarten math center that EVERY child adores.

Remember when I said, kids think outside the box? Well, instead of just comparing the sides of shapes or corners, let's compare how they move in space.

Does the 3D shape slide? Does it roll? Can you stack it?

Want this instant printable for Roll, Slide, Stack? Click HERE.

teaching 3d shapes in kindergarten with roll, stack, slide

For kids learning 3D shapes in kindergarten, having independent activities is key! The recording sheet has visuals for each step, so that if your child isn't reading yet, they can still do this on their own.

Just PRINT the 3D shapes worksheet and kindergarten math centers are done! Even if kids can't read, they can still be self directed because it has visuals for each item. : )

Set up an area with the 3D shapes and a makeshift slide and play. Kids will LOVE comparing and contrasting 3D shapes as they play to learn.

5. "Clue" 3D Shapes Activity for Kindergarten

This "Who Done It" game elicits very thoughtful responses from kindergarteners. Line up all the 3D shapes in what will be the criminal line up.

Announce that one of these shapes has committed a crime. Kids are adamant about ensuring the justice will be served.
Decide who committed the crime! (Write your answer on a sheet of paper, i.e. the smallest blue cone.)

Have your student ask YES or NO questions that describe the shapes in the line up, then, eliminate them by their attributes.

For example, "Does this 3D shape have a circle on one side? Does this 3D shape have vertices (corners)?"
Weed out the innocent shapes till you find the criminal among your 3D shapes (but make sure it gets a fair trial).

clue 3d shapes kindergarten activity

6. 2D Sides, 3D Shape Puzzle Activity

On a piece of construction paper, trace around the shapes you want to give your kids. These will be the 2D sides that they're likely familiar with.

Next, ask them to name the shapes on the paper... Now what is different about the 3D shapes?

Can they match them to the 2D (aka FLAT) sides that are on the paper to complete the shapes puzzle?

2d vs 3d shapes  kindergarten standard

If your child is having a hard time distinguishing between 2D and 3D shapes, I highly recommend this video by the always funny, Mr. B's Brain.

I love how he describes the difference between 2D and 3D shapes in a way that is so simple to understand for young learners.
He shares that 2D shapes go two ways: side to side and up and down. In contract, 3D shapes go three ways: up and down, side to side, and back and forth. Check it out!

7. Simple 3D Shapes Sort

Of course, when we see these engaging, colorful shapes we start categorizing them in our mind. Sorting is a major math skill that I describe in this activity where I have the kids do the laundry and build math skills at the same time.

Challenge your kids to sort in different ways: color, size, shape (duh) but maybe they'll even astound you and sort by number of sides or has corners vs. not.

Kids are more likely to think outside the box than adults, so let them lead this activity and you'll probably be surprised!

3d shapes shorting activity

What are the 3D shapes standards in kindergarten?

Naming and comparing shapes are big geometry standards in kindergarten. Here are some of the kindergarten common core geometry standards from

  • Name shapes correctly, regardless of orientation
  • Identify if a shape is 2D vs 3D
  • Compare and contrast 2D and 3D shapes including attributes, similarities, and differences.

Looking for more shapes activities?

July 11, 2021

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