Here’s one of my math/spatial relations ideas that we have enjoyed recently. I cut a great many triangles, squares, rectangles, and circles from construction paper and then laid them out to form simple illustrations. I used a permanent marker to outline them, creating blanks for the children to fill with shapes. Then I covered the table with shapes, glue sticks, and pictures to fill in and let them at it. Shape recognition was of course quite easy for Norah at this point, but she enjoyed seeing how the shapes fit together to make other, less regular shapes.
The real beauty of this project was that the girls could both enjoy different aspects of it and that Harriet (age 2) was able to do it also, even working independently. It gave her lots of practice with colors and shapes as we sat and made pictures together. She began simply with the “bird”–and was doing the “drum” on her own before we were done.
As an extension of this activity, it is fun to view illustrations in some of our favorite children’s books (try those by Robert McCloskey, Ezra Jack Keats, Virginia Lee Burton for ideas) and notice how basic shapes can be spotted in the drawings. An additional extension for those adept at this is providing some drawings to fill in without the shapes delineated–let the child figure out which ones to use.