Exploring Circles: Shape Activities for Preschoolers

Technically speaking, a circle is a closed plane curve of which all points (edges) are at an equal distance from the center. Talk about circles and curves in class and then use these shape activities for preschoolers as learning tools.

Using Movement to Learn About Circles

Little learners will have fun using large motor activities to explore circles. In an open area, ask the kids to stand an arm’s length from each other. Hold both arms straight out and make small circles using their arms. Then try large arm circles. Next, ask your students to raise their hands over their heads and make a circle with their arms. Finally, have everyone join hands and form a class circle. You can even divide your group and have them make a circle within a circle.

Circles Can Be Found Everywhere

Circles, thought to be the perfect shape, are commonly found in nature. Challenge the children to think of all circle found in nature: spots on animals, a halo around the moon, or annual rings found inside the bark of a tree. Are all of them perfect circles? Maybe not!

Some circles in nature are formed when a flat surface is affected by force acting equally in all directions. Think about a drop in water. Take a pebble and drop it into a pan of water. Observe the results. Your students will see ripples caused by the impact of the pebble as the waves spread in all directions. This is one of the shape activities for preschoolers that your group will enjoy. Allow them to each take a turn dropping the pebble for the experience.

Circles can be found in different modes of transportation. Engage your learners to brainstorm a list of transportation circles: tires, steering wheels, dials, knobs, hubcaps, headlights, and so on. Then invite the kids to draw their favorite vehicle and see how many circles they can include.

Jewelry comes in circles; necklaces, rings, bracelets, etc. A necklace is already a circle and kids can create a cool one threading circle cereal onto yarn.

Bring out a high-powered magnifying glass and help the children see pixels in the comic section of the newspaper. Pixels are those colored dots that create an image. It can sometimes take thousands, even millions to create a picture.

Circle Art

Here are a few examples of shape activities for preschoolers to conduct during your art sessions.

Paper Spirals:

A spiral is an open-ended curve that coils around a given point. Talk about where you would see a spiral: springs, screw, water going down a drain, the eye of a tornado, spiral staircase, Slinky, etc. Draw a spiral pattern on paper and duplicate a copy for each student. Channel their curiosity by allowing them to practice cutting around the spiral on the lines. Show them how to hold the one end and letting it dangle reinforcing the curve concept.

Quill Wreath:

First of all, a wreath is a circle. For each wreath, you will need a 9-inch paper plate and green construction paper. Cut out the center portion to make a wreath shape. Fill the wreath with green construction paper curls. This art technique is called quilling. Take a strip of green paper and curl it around a pencil. Slip off the curl. Work on a section of the wreath and spread glue onto the surface. Place the curls close to each other and cover an area. Continue this process until the wreath is covered in green curls. Finish decorating your wreath with bows.

Circle Quilt:

Give each child a sheet of white paper. Engage your learners in making circle designs on the paper. They can trace around coins, paper cups, jar lids, etc. Have them use crayons/markers to color in the circles to make a colorful picture. Take each picture and attach it to a bulletin board leaving a border between each sheet. Attach black strips of construction paper in the border area. This creates the look of a quilt. Add the title, “Our Circle Quilt.”

Searching for Circles:

Send home instructions for a circle search at home. Begin by making a circle holder with two paper plates. Staple these together leaving an opening at the top to insert circle tokens. Ask your students to fill the holder with different circles they find around the house, such as a penny, button, rubber band, cracker, o-shape cereal, bottle lid, etc. Challenge each child to find at least five items. When the kids return to school with their circle holder, take time to share the results.

Resources:

Personal experience teaching in an early childhood class

Circles, Copycat Magazine, Nov/Dec 1998

Photos courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Circle photo courtesy of pixabay.com