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  • Writer's pictureAmy Wung Tsao

Shaping Up Some Fun! (Geometry STEM Resources)

Updated: Jan 21

A Note from Amy

Toddler with light skin and light hair and a blue t-shirt, seen fom behind, stacking colorful soft blocks decorated with letters and simple images.
Photo by Ryan Fields on Unsplash

Maybe you know this feeling. My kids are only halfway through summer break, and they’re already complaining about being bored. So I’m falling back on a trick from my homeschooling days - strewing.


In the morning, my kids will find a puzzle, a Where’s Waldo book, or something else that’s been forgotten in the back of the closet. They just might start exploring and learning on their own without any extra effort from me!


Tonight I’m leaving out my middle kid’s old rock collection, along with gem classification charts. We’ll see what my kids make of that in the morning!


Is there something you can leave out for your kids tonight?

 

Geometry


“I think the universe is pure geometry -

basically, a beautiful shape twisting around and dancing over space-time.”


~ physicist Antony Garrett Lisi



Colorful pastel abstract background filled with spheres, flat circles, squares, triangles.
Photo by Viktor Forgacs on UnSplash

I’ve already covered counting and number sense and multiplication and fractions. This month I’m wrapping up my math series with geometry. Here are all my favorite fun and easy resources about shapes and angles!


(Just a reminder - I am never paid to mention any of these resources; there are no affiliate links.)


 

Videos


From PBS

Peg + Cat solve really big problems (often of their own making) with catchy tunes and fun math! The 11-minute episodes are targeted to preschoolers. Here’s a clip of Peg and Cat searching for 3 golden pyramids, but being given 3 golden cubes instead.


Full episodes are available on the PBS Kids website or PBS Kids Video app (for iOS or Android). (Click the three vertical lines on the right to see which full episodes are available. A new batch of full episodes get rotated in every week.) There’s also a ton of Peg + Cat activities and games on the PBS website!



Odd Squad

From PBS

Another delightfully silly math-themed PBS show! This one is targeted for early elementary kids. I love how committed the kid actors are to hamming up their roles as secret agents, investigating odd occurrences around the world. In this clip, the agents must figure out a way to make a cube from other 3-D shapes, so they can repair the woosh-you-back-in-timeinator (of course).


Again, full episodes are available on the PBS Kids website or PBS Kids Video app (for iOS or Android), and my kids have enjoyed a bunch of the Odd Squad games on the PBS website.


From The Magic School Bus Rides Again (Netflix)

Elementary age boy with light skin and brown hair, wearing a red baseball cap and a white/blue/red circus outfit hanging upside down from a trapeze that’s swinging at an angle. The boy and trapeze are glowing against the dark background.

Ralphie needs to help his family’s circus show go on! Can the kids use geometry to setup the trapeze, so the trapeze artists don’t fly into each other?






 

Books


By Annie Watson, illustrated by Rebecca Evans

Cover illustration of two children, one holding a round tortilla above a frying pan, and another holding a stack of tortillas next to a rolling pin. The a white minivan driving by dinosaurs, cowboys, a hot air balloon, skunks, and dogs. One dinosaur has taken a bite out of the number 2 in the title.

“Round are tortillas and tacos, too. Round is a pot of abuela’s stew. I can name more round things. Can you?”

Younger children can point out the shapes mentioned in the rhymes, and older children will love searching the illustrations for even more shapes. The illustrations incorporate Latino culture, and the glossary translates many of the Spanish words.


The same author also wrote “Round is a Mooncake: A Book of Shapes”, illustrated by Grace Lin, with sweet scenes from an Asian American family’s daily life.


By Suzanne Morris

Cover illustration of a light blue trapezoid wearing an annoyed face, a black bowtie, and holding a handmade sign reading the book title “A Trapezoid is Not a Dinosaur!” He is standing on a stage. There’s a small yellow star in the background, partially hidden by a stage curtain. Colorful feet also poke out from under the stage curtain, and a green spiked tail pokes out from the side.

This is not your typical shapes book, as you can see from the title! Can Trapezoid audition for the shapes play? Is he even a shape, or is he secretly a dinosaur? Trapezoid tries to act like the other shapes, but eventually his unique shape is what saves the play.









By Eugenia Cheng, illustrated by Amber Ren

Cover illustration of a young boy holding a whisk and a young girl holding an oven mitt, both smiling and looking towards the smiling woman in the center holding a large fruit pie with lattice topping.

Food is an excellent vehicle for teaching math concepts, even infinity! Siblings X and Y are dreaming of infinite pies. So their Aunt Z shows them that if they cut a pie in half over and over again, they will have an infinite number of pieces of pie. And that a round pie is a shape with infinite corners. And that a fractal pie crust would have infinite corners too! My kids asked to reread this one multiple times! This is the first picture book from the same author who wrote the bestseller “How to bake ℼ: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics.”


 

Activities


Close-up photo of a colorful wooden train set on a track, including wooden toy trees, a traffic light, and a wooden figure under a building labelled “Future Station.”

Go on a shape hunt!

What shapes will you find in your play room? Your house? Your backyard? You can look for 2D shapes or 3D shapes, or both! You probably won’t have to look far - I spot triangular prisms and rectangular prisms in this train set here.






Printable worksheet showing how tangrams can be rearranged into the numbers 2, 4, 6, or the shape of a swan, cat, or rabbit.

From PBS Kids


This free printable puzzle gets kids seeing the possibilities of rearranging simple shapes!















Highlights Shapes app

From Highlights (for iOS and Android)


This app is a very intuitive first app for toddlers and preschoolers. They drag shapes over to corresponding holes, learning the names of shapes and colors and working on their fine motor skills at the same time!

For years this was the miracle app on my phone when I just needed a fidgety kid to sit in the grocery cart for 5 more minutes! I’m still a little sad that my kiddos have outgrown this one.

 

Podcast


from the Ear Snacks podcast


Black and white close-up of white woman with black framed eyeglasses with eyebrows raised and slight smile, and white man wearing sunglasses and a plaid shirt with eyebrows raised also. Colorful block letters say “EAR SNACKS” in one corner, and smaller text reads “with Andrew & Polly” in the opposite corner

This goofy podcast always makes a long drive a little more fun for my kiddos! Andrew & Polly are award-winning musicians, so they know how to make podcasts that are a joy to listen to. Listen along as they play a game making animals from shapes and hunt for shapes in other fun places!








 

I hope I’ve given you some fun angles to teaching geometry!

Next month I’ll wrap up the summer with STEM resources on the Sun and solar power. Sign up here with your email, so you never miss a post!


Until then, have fun lighting sparks of curiosity!

Amy Wung Tsao



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