I am a blog ambassador for Lakeshore and am compensated for my work. I received product free of charge, but all thoughts and opinions on math activities with shapes are 100% mine.
How to make 7 Math Activities with 1 Shape Toy
We can do so many things with a great toy.
We can teach, we can learn, we can play. When we give our child the gift of a great toy, we are giving them the gift of limitless possibilities.
The world is their play oyster.
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What is a GREAT toy?
A great toy doesn’t mean it’s a flashy toy, or a giant toy, or a complex toy.
A great toy is one that is full of potential – you can instantly imagine all the play a child can do with it. You know this toy will be the catalyst for so much play.
RELATED: Here’s a whole list of other GREAT toys from Lakeshore Learning.
Check out this GREAT toy…
I always gravitate to a toy like these Giant Lacing Shapes. It’s a toy with a variety of colors and shapes, and there are lots of them (that means we won’t run out).
It’s a toy that I can see so many activity and play ideas inside of, just waiting to burst out.
And if I can see them, I know a child can too (and probably way more).
You can do so much with a toy like this!
This is an open-ended toy. The Giant Lacing Shapes can be used over and over again. The child can use them as the vehicle for so much play – and for years to come. The toy isn’t locked in to any one certain activity / play / use.
It can simply be what the child needs it to be.
Here’s what I did with the Giant Lacing Shapes
We took the Giant Lacing Shapes and came up with seven possible activities.
Seven ways for kids to learn and play with a great open-ended toy.
Activity 1: Lacing Up Necklaces
We started by using the shapes exactly as intended: to practice fine motor skills with and lace.
Lacing is a great skill for kids and a chance to use those small motor functions.
With the 6 laces provided in the toy and the easy-to-thread laces, making necklaces and bracelets is a great quiet time activity for kids. We put a math spin on this by making color sorted necklaces, shape sorted necklaces, patterns, and number pattern necklaces. So many options!
I do recommend always tying one end of the string around a shape to create a stop at the bottom. This helps the shapes to not fall off during the lacing process.
We keep reusing the strings over and over!
Activity 2: Sorting Sensory Bin
Give me all the sensory bins and all the play.
We took all 144 shapes and dumped them into a rainbow rice filled sensory bin.
My son’s job: sort the shapes by color into the bowls.
Sorting is a fantastically complicated job for kids – classifying information, making decisions based on attributes, and analyzing data. Yes, all that from a little rice, shapes, and bowls!
Activity 3: Adding with Shapes
These Giant Lacing Shapes make an awesome math manipulative – that’s fancy teacher speak for an object we can use to demonstrate math concepts with.
Here, I used the shapes to help my son act out addition sentences. Remember, this is all about creating math activities with shapes – even if we just use them as play pieces.
First, I set up the two addends using shapes.
His job was to determine what the sum of the equation was and use a post-it note to answer.
My goal was to represent the addition sentences with concrete models (the shapes) but have him answer using a numeral (an abstract concept to children).
Activity 4: Making Patterns with Shapes
So often with patterning, kids can accidentally fall into “the color trap”. This happens when a child begins to see and make patterns, but only in colors.
It’s so easy for this to happen but we know that so much more than color can be part of a pattern.
Using the Giant Lacing Shapes is a great chance to have kids pattern WITHOUT making the pattern color dependent.
The pattern is a shape pattern instead.
I rolled out the butcher paper and added some black lines as patterning place holders.
On each line, my daughter worked to create repeating patterns using shapes NOT just colors.
Activity 5: What’s 100?
100 is a very abstract concept to children.
What is 100?
How many is that?
Can I see 100?
With the Giant Lacing Shapes, you can.
I made ten strips of tape and used those as our counting surface.
Counting to 100 can be taxing on a young learner so I like to break it into chunks of 10. This also helps in the future as they learn to skip count (and then skip counting becomes the basis of multiplication…isn’t it amazing how connected it all is?!).
My son counted out 10 shapes onto each line.
Together, we counted those up to see 100.
Activity 6: Sorting Shapes
Sorting doesn’t need to be color dependent either – instead, we can help children identify other attributes to sort with.
In this activity, my daughter is sorting shapes.
There are 12 different shapes in the Giant Lacing Shapes set but I only picked 6 for this activity.
I drew the shape and a line as the sorting area. I love having a predefined area for a child to sort into.
My daughter made a little shape line up with each sorted group – reminded me so much of her beloved animal parade!
Activity 7: How many are missing?
This is fantastic game for the kindergarten and older crowd. It’s a game of missing addends, and yes, it’s the basis of algebra…
To play, start with a predetermined amount. We did 10 shapes.
Have Player 1 close their eyes.
Player 2 hides some of the shapes under a bowl and leaves some next to it.
Player 1 opens their eyes and has to determine how many are HIDDEN under the bowl. They know the number total (10) and they know 1 addend. What’s the missing addend?
Look at all the activities!
You can do SO MUCH with a good open-ended toy.
Instead of having closets full of “one and done toys”, let’s get our children some of the best toys out there to fuel their play.
The Giant Lacing Shapes are such a shining example of this. A perfect toy to be a tool for a child’s play and learning.
I love getting toys like this from Lakeshore Learning – our go-toy for open-ended toys that grow with a child, toys to learn with, and toys that will make a lasting impression in a child’s life.
What math activities with shapes can you dream up?