Give children a ball. Ask them what they notice about the ball. They may begin by talking about color but will eventually discuss shape. You can ask questions like, "How is the ball different than a circle?" or "What other objects are like this?" "Can you think of food that is like this?" You can tell them that this is called a sphere. Ask children to discuss the ways a circle and sphere are alike and ways they are different.
Show children other objects like a can of food. After they handle this and describe it, share the mathematical term, cylinder. Have them find other examples of cylinders. They can draw these items or just tell about these real-life examples of geometry.
Continue on with using the word, cube, for the toy shown in the photo. You may have dice, blocks, etc. that you can encourage children to touch and then describe. Have them compare cubes to squares.
If children have an understanding of the term rectangle, you can show them a box, as pictured above. This 3D item is a rectangular prism. Children should be encouraged to describe it and find other examples.
Throughout this discovery time, children can be encouraged to use words like edges and faces. They may notice that one of the faces on a rectangular prism looks like a rectangle. The same can be done for other shapes such as square for cube or even circle for the end of a cylinder.
Some children will be able to verbalize more about these 3D shapes than other children. Everyone is at a different stage. The key is that all children have the opportunity to touch and talk about 3D objects!
NAEYC: 2.D.03; 2.D.06; 2.F.03; 2.F.06.
Head Start: VIII.B; X.C.