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Match the Shapes to Their Shadows

Learn more about helping young children with math by matching the shapes to their shadows and other activities.

Activity 24: Matching shapes


Basic shapes (1 circle, 3 squares, 2 triangles, 4 rectangles) cut from paper; shape outlines (or “shadows”) traced on sheets of paper, 1 outline for each shape cutout.

Try It Out:

  1. Say, “Let’s play a matching game. We’re going to match our shapes to their shadows.” Name each shape and show your child how to place a square cutout over the square outline and the circle cutout over the circle outline. Continue until all the shapes have been placed on the “shadows.”
  2. Then say, “Okay, let’s count all of the circles. There is 1 circle. Now the squares: 1, 2, 3.” Also count the triangles and rectangles.
  3. Remove the shapes and hand them to your child. Say, “Now it’s your turn to play. Can you show me where the circle goes?”
    • Help your child find the right spot if she’s unsure.
    • Continue playing until all the shapes are matched. Say, “All the shapes are on their shadows!”

Making the Most of This Activity:

  1. Tape the paper outlines to the wall and let your child tape the shapes in place.
  2. Try taping the outlines to the floor and have your child play a relay game where she selects a shape, runs to the outline and matches her shape, runs back and gets a new shape, and continues the matching relay.


Was your child able to match the paper shapes to their outlines? If not, she may not be quite ready for this activity and you can try again later.


American Institute for Research

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