Early Literacy Tip: Identify Shapes With Your Child

In our Building Blocks to Early Literacy series, we share early literacy tips for you to do at home to help your child get ready to learn to read. 

What children need to know about reading and writing before they can read or write is called early literacy. As your child’s caregiver, you are their first teacher. 

The greatest amount of brain growth occurs between birth and age five, a time your child spends with you. By age three, 85% of the brain’s core structure is formed. 

As a child ages, the brain gets rid of weaker synaptic connections in favor of stronger ones. We can improve the strength of synaptic connections with experiences that reinforce learning that has already occurred. 


Today’s Early Literacy Tip is: identify the shapes that you see and talk about them with your child. 

Why is identifying shapes around you important? Look at the alphabet, many of the letters that your child will need to learn are often made of shapes. Seeing circles and triangles and the letters they form will help your child recognize them as letters later on. 

You can help your child explore shapes in a number of ways; one of the best ways is The Observation Game. Challenge your child to look for different shapes in your house. You can focus on a certain shape each day and see they can find 10 of those circles or triangles or squares around your home. 

If you have to go out, you can ask them to find specific shapes when you go for walks or through the window of your car or even at the grocery store.  You’ll be amazed at how creative your child can be finding the different shapes in the world around them. 


Shape recognition is a great way to get your child ready to read! Make recognizing shapes a fun activity by making a Shape Finder Necklace. Watch the video below to see how to make one, and the benefits of shape finding. Here is our handout, complete with instructions, a supply list, and additional resources.

When you see an object that looks like one of the shapes on your child’s necklace, say “I spy something shaped like a ____.” and encourage your child to look for that particular shape. You can even incorporate colors to the description “I spy something that is yellow and is shaped like a _______.”  As your child becomes familiar with the shapes, they can look for shapes on their own and ask you to find them.


Here are a few great authors to look at for shape recognition, with links to books available on Overdrive or in the Libby app: 

Tana Hoban 

Bill Martin: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Lois Ehlert: Planting a Rainbow | Waiting for Wings

Ellen Walsh 

Roseanne Thong: Round is a Tortilla | Round is a Mooncake 

Alan Baker 

Jon Klassen

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