One of the first math units we teach in Kindergarten is shapes. Most 4-6 year old kiddos readily recognize a circle, square and oval, but sometimes rectangles and triangles can be tricky. We take things nice and slow, introducing each shape with a variety of songs, books and activities. We talk about how many sides and angles each of the four basic shapes contains. As well as what finding shapes in real life everyday items. Then it's time for a little review before moving on to building patterns with shapes.
One of my favorite activities for reviewing shapes is a little book that I downloaded from Hubbardscupboard.org called "Shape Monster".
It's a great book for several reasons. First of all, it has very repetitive text, which is wonderful for emergent and beginning readers. Second of all, it reviews each shape and some color words too with simple, yet effective picture support. After we complete the reading and coloring of the book together, I give each student a cutout of a monster and we glue pictures of the shapes from the book onto the monster's belly. For example, the book says, "Shape Monster, Shape Monster, Munch, Munch, Munch. How about a blue circle for your lunch?" then the students glue the blue circle onto the monster. When we are finished with this activity, the children in my class keep the Shape Monster book in their book boxes to reread on their own. The simple, repetitive text and picture support makes this book easy to memorize and is thus a great candidate for independent reading at the beginning of Kindergarten.
This year, I completed all of my regular Shape Monster activities and I decided that I needed a little something more...so I made my very own Shape Monster for the students in my class to use to act out the story.
Making the Shape Monster was really very simple. All you need is a box with a mouth shaped opening, green paper or paint, and some decorating supplies.
In my case, I used a Simple Human trash bag box, which is very sturdy. You could also use an old tissue box. In Kindergarten, the sturdier the better. I used duck tape to cover my monster, but you could paint the box or cover it in some sort of paper. I was worried that my students would rip paper if I used it and I wasn't sure how paint would cover the different colored surface of the box. Plus, duck tape is pretty sticky and indestructible. The hardest part of covering the box was cutting the tape, but I managed without too much effort.
Then came the decorating. I had originally thought that I would just glue googly eyes and a pom-pom nose on the monster to make the face. Then I decided he didn't look very monster-ish so I added some white construction paper triangle teeth. Then one of my students told me he needed hair, so I curled some ribbon and put it on as well.
I used a hot glue gun to glue his face together, mostly because it dries fast and I knew everything would stick with hot glue. After Shape Monster was put together, I found matching shapes for the story. I had the correct colored square, triangle, and circle in my classroom, but I had to cut an oval and rectangle out of construction paper.
Now, when my students finish up math early, they are eager to work with a buddy to feed the Shape Monster his lunch!