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How to Learn Basic Shapes by Making a Shape Mobile

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Roll up your sleeves and pull out your children’s crafting supplies for this fun activity that doubles as an early math learning tool. This art project involves crafting and talking about shapes and relative positions of such shapes.

Esta actividad también está disponible en español.

Make a Shape Mobile and Learn Basic Shapes

This activity is included in backpacks PBS SoCal shares with parents of young children in our communities. The Frieda Berlinski Foundation is helping us offer these activities as digital tools for other parents who can watch these videos everywhere.

Learning Goal


Caregivers and children will create a shape mobile to talk about the names of shapes and the relative positions of these objects (e.g. using terms such as above, below, beside, in front of, behind, and next to).

Materials

  • Index cards
  • Markers
  • String
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Paperclip
  • Cardboard or sturdy paper plate
  • Shape stickers (optional)

Assembly


Step 1: Draw your shapes. Draw one shape on each index card, write the name of the shape and have your child color and decorate it with markers and stickers. Draw up a total of eight different shapes. Some examples of shapes include: triangle, circle, square, rectangle, oval, diamond, crescent, heart.

Bonus: How many shapes can your child name? Can they think of any other shapes not on the cards?

Step 2: Create a base for the mobile. This could be a sturdy paper plate, or it could be a circle cut out of a piece of cardboard. In our video, we traced the outline of a pitcher lid on a box and cut it out with large scissors.

A couple hold their completed shape mobile.
A couple holds a completed shape mobile. | PBS SoCal

Step 3: Punch holes into the base of the mobile. These could be created by using a hole puncher or using a pencil to pierce through your paper plate or cardboard circle. Create up to eight holes around the edge of the base, one hole for each shape index card drawn. Then punch one hole in the middle of the base. This will be for the handle of the mobile.

Step 4: Decorate your base. Hand the base to your child. Ask them to write their name and decorate it with markers and stickers.

Step 5: Prepare the strings to hang the mobile. Cut nine strings of different lengths. Thread one string through a hole on the edge of the base and tie the threaded end to the base. Repeat seven more times until all outer holes have strings tied to them. Then, ask your child to help you tape one shape card to each string.

Step 6: Hang the mobile! Tie one end of the final string to a paperclip. Thread the open end of this string through the middle hole of the mobile base and pull it all the way through. This will help the string stay in place.

Now you can hold the mobile from the middle string and talk about shapes with your child!

Keep the conversation going

  • What is their favorite shape and why?
  • Which shapes are above/below/beside your favorite shape?
  • Which shapes have 4 sides?
  • Which shapes have corners/no corners?
Foster Elementary School
Parents and caregivers work on their shape mobiles at a PBS SoCal Family Math workshop at Foster Elementary School.

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