Math Centers: Basic 2-D Shapes

13 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


Students will be able to independently practice identifying and matching shapes.

Big Idea

In order to pull small groups during math instruction, the rest of the students need engaging activities that they can complete independently. These centers allow students to practice identifying and matching shapes.

Problem of the Day

5 minutes

I start the lesson with a problem of the day to help students review skills and concepts from prior lessons and develop their ability to problem solve.  I call the students up to the carpet. The students find their spots while saying this chant with me.

Criss cross, applesauce, hands in your lap, eyes on the teacher, you've got to show me that.

I project the Problem of the Day on the SMARTBoard and say to students, "This is our Problem of the Day for today.  Look at shapes.  This says 'Sort by shape.  Put the shapes in the correct group.'"  I call a student up to drag a small shape into the corresponding large shape.  If the student drags it to the wrong shape, it will snap back, so they will know right away if they made a mistake.  If a student does make a mistake, I say, "Remember we are sorting by shape.  Make sure the objects are the same shape."  I continue to call students up until all of the objects have been correctly sorted.  We did a very similar Problem of the Day at the beginning of the year when we were learning to sort by shape.  I brought it back today as a review of sorting by shape since we are starting our unit about shapes.

I tell students, "Today we will be learning how to do new math centers.  All of our centers  this week will be about shapes.  You will learn how to do all of the centers today and you will get a chance to work with your group on one of them."

Introducing Centers

25 minutes

I use math centers in my classroom as a way to reinforce the skills that are being taught.  The math centers give students are chance to work independently or with their peers to complete a task.  The students are not just learning and practicing number skills, they are also working on social skills including taking turns, sharing, and working cooperatively.  Having students working in centers also allows me time to pull small groups of student to my table to work on skills specific to their needs.

I ask students, "What have we been doing when we finish a math paper each day?"  Answers could include: Put it in the basket, do our center, etc.  "We are going to learn about the centers that we will be working on this week.  All of our centers will be helping us learn about shapes."

I have the students move into a circle.  I remind students to sit on the hard floor so that there is space for everyone.  I bring up all of the center trays.  I explain and model how to complete each center.  This week's centers are:

Shape Monster Book (
My Shape Flip Book (
Building Shapes (Teacher Made Resource, craft sticks, fruit loops, noodles and drinking straws )
Shapes - Lakeshore Instant Learning Center
Shapes Adventures SMARTBoard
- Lakeshore Interactive Activity

Each center is explained in the video located in the next section.

Explanation of Centers

The following centers are kept in a stack of plastic drawers in my classroom.  Each drawer has a number on it which corresponds to the numbers on the student tables.  The students take the center out of their numbered drawer, compete the center and return it to that same drawer when it is time to clean up.

Click on each center below to see a video explanation.

Shape Monster Book
My Shape Flip Book
Building Shapes
SMART Board Shapes


20 minutes

Once I have introduced all of the centers, I have the students go back to their seats.  I remind students of our center rules.  Students need to work quietly and stay at their seats.  Materials need to remain on the table and be cleaned up quickly and quietly when the clean up song comes on.  I call up one student from each table to come back and get their center.  I circulate through the room to make sure that all of the centers are being done correctly.  We have been doing centers for a while now, so I do pull a group today.  I wait until all of the students are started and ensure that there are not any questions.  I pull 3 groups today.  The first group I pull for 10 minutes and the other two groups I pull for about 5 minutes each.  Even through we are starting our unit on positions and shapes, I continue to work on numbers in small group today.  During the first group, I give each student a pile of small eraser counters.  I show a number card and have the students count out that number of erasers.  We then do a very quick practice with flashcards for the number 0 to 10 and practice writing them on white boards.  For the second two groups, we just do the flash cards and white boards.  

Students Working:

Shape Monster Book

My Shape Flip Book

Building Shapes

Shapes Instant Learning Center

Prior to the last group, I count down from 5 and say "Freeze."  When I say this, all students stop what they are doing, put their hands on their heads and look at me.  This is a procedure that we use throughout the day.  I say to students, "You have about five minutes left.  Remember when the clean up song comes on, you need to quietly put all of your materials back in your container and return it to the math center drawer.  It needs to be in the drawer that matches your table number.  I let the students work for five more minutes and then turn on Tidy Up by Dr. JeanThere are many wonderful transition songs to be found, for free, online if you'd like to use music for transitions too.

Students clean up and return to their seats.