Our deck of shape cards and our set of shape card games helps children practice skills that lead to success in math! When playing shape card games, children pay attention to mathematical attributes, including shape, number, and color. They also practice their executive function skills by taking turns and remembering and matching cards.
There are 60 cards in the shape card deck. The cards have numerals 1-10 on them along with one of six shapes: circle, triangle, square, rhombus, rectangle, or hexagon. There are also four Wild Shapes cards in the deck — these cards have all six shapes printed on them.
Two examples of fun shape card games that children can play are listed here. You can also download your own shape card deck and the directions for more fun games using the links below!
- In SNAP, the deck of shape cards is dealt out evenly to each player. Players take turns turning over their top card and placing it face-up in a central pile. If two cards placed consecutively on the pile match by shape OR number, the first player to shout “SNAP!” and place their hand on top of the central pile gets to keep all of the cards in the pile.
- In Go Fish, children choose whether they are fishing for numbers or for shapes. To start, each player is dealt 5 cards and matches any pairs in their five. Players then take turns asking each other for a card that they need in order to make a pair with a card in their hand. If another player does not have a card for them, they “go fish” by choosing a card from the deck.
WHAT’S THE MATH?
DIRECTIONS FOR GAMES AT SCHOOL
DIRECTIONS FOR GAMES AT HOME
Click on the links below to view, download, and print the directions for individual shape card games!
GAME MATERIALS: SHAPE CARD DECK PRINTABLES
FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT: PRESCHOOL MATH LOOK FOR’S
SUGGESTED BOOKS TO READ
Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin and James Dean
Pete is fun and lovable! At 8am, Pete puts on his favorite shirt with 4 groovy buttons. His buttons inspire him to sing, “My button, my buttons, my four groovy buttons, my buttons, my buttons, my four groovy buttons.” But as Pete goes about his day, one-by-one his buttons pop off his shirt. Does Pete cry? No, he keeps going and keeps singing his song. This book has a lot of fun math in it as Pete counts the buttons on his shirt down from 4 to 0. The song he sings repeats in a predictable way (a pattern) as the number of buttons decreases by one. The illustrator includes a subtraction equation (such as, 4 – 1 = 3) as each button pops off. You can show children the equation and explain that they will learn to write mathematical equations like that in kindergarten. For an additional activity, children can draw shirt pictures and glue dots on them for buttons. Then they can write down the number of buttons that their shirt has. For example, “I have 5 buttons on my blue shirt! If I lose one button, I’ll have 4.”
The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns
In this book, a triangle explores all the different triangles that he can make — a sailboat, a roof, a piece of pie. But the triangle gets bored with being a triangle and goes to the shape shifter to get another side. He becomes a quadrilateral! He explores all the different squares that he can make — a computer screen, a picture frame, a game square. But again, he gets bored and goes to the shape shifter to get another side. This continues until the shape is almost round and he rolls away from all of his friends. In the end, he decides that he wants to go back to being himself — a triangle.
When reading this book, have fun exploring all of the different shapes! Don’t worry about children remembering the shape names; just use the shape terms naturally as they arise and children will pick up the words as they build their vocabulary. For an additional art activity, have children focus on making one shape. You can put out straight edges (such as rulers) and tracing shapes to help them get started. First, have children focus on making triangles — 3-sided shapes of all different sizes and lengths of sides. They can create sailboats, buildings, ladders, or anything else they can imagine. Next, have them focus on quadrilaterals. They can create windows, buildings, boxes, books, toys, or anything they can imagine. Continue on with pentagons (5-sided shapes).
Shapes (Math Counts) by Henry Pluckrose
This is a great book to get children thinking about the shapes that they see in the world around them. The first few pages ask children to run their finger along the edges of a square, circle, rectangle, hexagon, and triangle. Then there is a page showing three different squares and another page showing five different triangles. The book asks children to look at how the shapes are similar and different. The next part of the book is great for talking about going on a shape hunt! There are photographs for children to find rectangles, squares, triangles, and circles in the real world — even hexagons in a honeycomb! On page 16, the author introduces the word tessellation to describe shapes that fit together without leaving any spaces. Although this word is probably new to children, it is a concept that they have experienced when building with blocks or making designs with pattern blocks.
For an additional activity, go on a shape hunt in your classroom, your bedroom, and outside. Find circles such as clocks, doorknobs, and stools. Find rectangles such as windows, art paper, and photographs. Can you find a triangle in your lunch?