Life in Kindergarten — Shapes and Colors

Introduction

The series of posts I’m doing on this subject matter are expanded from an article I found called 10 Kindergarten Readiness Skills Your Child Needs from 2013.  Despite the article being older, the areas it covers are still basic areas of study and behavior that should be paid attention to.

My Credentials (reprinted from my original post):

Let me state up front that I am not a kindergarten teacher nor any other grade teacher.  I have a BA in English from Sonoma State University in California and started my teaching credential years ago before my career path took me away from school and into the working world.

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My expertise on the subject of kindergarten (and the other lower grades) comes from over four years of volunteering in a kindergarten class at my kids school.  I also have seen the end result of kindergarten by volunteering in a first grade class for almost three years before COVID shut down in person schooling in our area.

I wasn’t the typical volunteer.  As soon as my children started school, I was in the classroom five days a week splitting between kindergarten and the upper grades as needed.  I’ve been put in charge of tech education for kindergarten and have run multi levels of reading groups in first grade.  I also worked on reading fluency with emerging readers and became known as the parent to rely on when given an educational task to accomplish in the classroom.

The two teachers I worked with most were seasoned professionals.  My mentors were wonderful women who made teaching their life.

  • The kindergarten teacher was one of the original teachers at our school which was founded in 1995.  She transferred over from another school and while kindergarten is her niche, she also had taught grades higher up into elementary school.
  • The first grade teacher I worked with had been teaching longer than I’ve been alive.  She knew what kids needed to have in first grade and was great at evaluating how successful a kindergarten year was for a kid within the first few weeks of school in her class.

I might not be considered an expert because I don’t have a degree.  I do believe my time in the classroom as well as being a mother myself helps me give a balanced view of things that will help your child succeed in kindergarten.

Area 5: Shapes And Colors

Part of kindergarten assessments is the shapes and colors section. There are many ways to learn these. Most teachers have colors and written versions of their colors all over the room. Many of them have a color of the week or some kind of practice daily to help kids learn these.

Shapes

In a recent drawing class I was reminded that different basic shapes make up everything in the world around us. For a kindergartener recognizing and naming these shapes is part of the math curriculum.

Basic Shapes

While kids will add more complicated shapes into their vocabulary later, the basics are:

  • square
  • triangle
  • rectangle
  • circle

A great way to learn these (as I posted in my original Keys to Kindergarten Success post is to learn the shapes through song:

Three Dimensional Shapes

Explaining flat and three dimensional shapes to kids can be tricky. Of course kids understand a flat circle that they draw and a ball that they bounce on the playground, but the relationship between the two can sometimes be tricky to understand.

A writer for Kindergarten Works, Leslie Simpson shares her favorite way how to explain 3D shapes to kindergarten kids:

Here’s how I liked to use motions to explain the difference between a circle and a sphere:

Put your hands together like you have a circle pancake in between.

Then hold your hands up to your mouth as if to blow air into the circle (adding the dimension of filling up space) and curl your fingers as you blow… forming a sphere with your hands.

The flat circle now has become a solid sphere like a balloon.

Here’s how I liked to use motions to explain the difference between a circle and a sphere:

Put your hands together like you have a circle pancake in between.

Then hold your hands up to your mouth as if to blow air into the circle (adding the dimension of filling up space) and curl your fingers as you blow… forming a sphere with your hands.

The flat circle now has become a solid sphere like a balloon.

I mimic the same motions holding a flat square and blowing air into it to create a cube – all just using my hands. You can then flatten or “squash” the imaginary 3D shape and turn it back into a 2D shape to reinforce the concept. I have my students model after me.

To explain what a cylinder is, I like to explain that it’s a circle that has been streeeeeetched out. I form a circle with one hand and pretend like I’m pulling the edges out (keeping my pulling hand in a “c” shape) – creating an imaginary circle – the body of the cylinder.

You can do the same with a pyramid – its just a triangle being streeeeeeeeetched into a point. Your fingertips can pull the corners of the triangle and as you stretch them away from the triangle your fingertips are pinching closed.

— Leslie Simpson, Kindergarten Works

As you’ve probably noticed, I’m a big fan of song as a way to learn these types of skills. My kids preschool and kindergarten teachers used these songs constantly to let the kids break up their day by singing and dancing and learning at the same time:

Colors

Usually by the time kids get to school they already are familiar with the colors that they like and most times know the color names.

One of my sources, kidsactivities.net says:

If you use the same objects to teach and describe colors over and over again, your child likely associates the color name with the object. They do not understand the difference between the color and the noun of association. For instance, when you call an object a red ball, your child understands the entire name of the ball as red ball instead of separating the color name from the object name. Developing the ability to discern color from the object takes time.

kidactivities.net — when do kids learn colors

For screening/assessment purposes, make sure your kids know the eight basic colors:

  • red
  • yellow
  • blue
  • green
  • orange
  • black
  • white
  • pink

Singing is always a great way to cement information into your mind. It’s amazing how many times I know song lyrics from the 80s, but can’t remember my grocery list off the top of my head. Kids absorb things this way easily…plus what is more fun, reading and writing about colors or singing about them?

There is a great free episode of StoryBots on Netflix that helps kids learn colors. Would be a great little episode to teach kids their colors:

No matter which way you teach your kids their shapes and colors…Have fun with it!


RESOURCES:

Find more great kindergarten educational videos on my YouTube playlist: Kindergarten Skills Videos

I hope you learned a lot from this article and don’t forget to check out the other posts in this series:

Published by Patty Gordon

I’m Patty Gordon, a 40+ year old school lunch lady married to a crane mechanic. Our days are anything but normal as he works “construction worker hours” and I take care of our two elementary school aged kids, Chihuahua Mr Biggs, Pitbull Cali, and French Bulldog MooMoo. I blogged a few years ago under different names but have landed with the 365MomMe.com name this time around. The term 365MomMe comes from the idea that I’m a mom and I’m me 365 days a year. Kids call me Mommy but I see myself as MomMe.

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