Part A: Grades PreK-K
Part B: Grades K-3
Visual Arts, Language Arts,
Math, Science

Forests, as well as other
ecosystems, contain numer-
ous habitats that support
diverse populations of
organisms. (1.2)

Populations of organisms
exhibit variations in size
and structure as a result
of their adaptations to their
habitats. (4.1)
Identifying Attributes and
Components, Observing,
Organizing Information,
Comparing and Contrasting
Nonlinguistic Representations,
Paired/Cooperative Learning,
Oral/Reading/Writing Skills
Digital/Video Cameras,
Spreadsheet/Database Software,
Graphic Organizer Software,
Internet Resources
Part A: Construction paper
and string (or plastic shapes),
drawing paper, and crayons or
Part B: Slips of paper
(about 3" by 3") and clipboards
(or cardboard and paper clips)
Time Considerations
Preparation: 30 minutes
Activity: 50 minutes
Related Activities
Get in Touch with Trees,
Peppermint Beetle, Sounds
Around, Poet-Tree, Name that
Tree, Looking at Leaves
Before the activity, make “shape neck-
laces” by cutting out circles, squares,
triangles, rectangles, and ovals from con-
struction paper. There should be one
shape necklace for each student. Cut an
extra set of shapes for use during the
activity. Print the name of the shape on
each cutout and punch a hole in each.
Thread a piece of string through each
shape and tie the string off so that it
forms a loop big enough to fit easily over
a child’s head. Instead of necklaces, you
could also give students plastic shapes
that they can hold in their hands.
For Part B, draw a circle, square, triangle,
rectangle, and oval on separate slips of
paper. (Each slip should have only one
shape.) Make enough slips for everyone
in the group.
Ask your students what their favorite
shapes are. Now hold up each shape in
turn and ask the students to identify it.
Also ask if they can name something that
has that particular shape.
Go for a walk with the students, mak-
ing sure that each person wears his or
her shape necklace. Also bring along the
shapes you cut out earlier.
Bring a digital camera along with
you and take pictures of the shapes
the children find in nature. Then, use the
pictures to make a mural of “Shapes in
Nature” or print out copies of the digital
pictures and let the children trace the
actual shapes found in the photographs.
If you do not have a digital camera, you
The Shape of Things
As humans we depend on all of our senses—touching, tasting, hearing, smelling, and
seeing—to gather impressions of our environment. Our brains sort out the diversity of
sizes, colors, and shapes that we see. In this activity, students will focus on the many
shapes that are found in both natural and built environments.

Students will identify common shapes appear-
ing in natural and built environments.

For Part B, take the students outside to look for
five shapes in the architecture and design of
their school buildings or other buildings in
your neighborhood. Encourage them to find
shapes other than the original five and to
name them.

Have students discover the different shapes of
traffic signs and understand the kind of infor-
mation indicated by each shape.

Give each student a piece of paper and have
each draw a tic-tac-toe grid on it. Students
should draw three triangles on the first row,
three squares on the second row, and three cir-
cles on the third row. Take students outside
and have them look for shapes in the environ-
ment that match the ones on the paper. When
students find three in a row—up, down, or
diagonal—they yell,“Shape Up!” and identify
the three shapes they found.
Provide a tic-tac-toe grid with the shapes
drawn in and have students mark a shape
when they find one.
The Shape of Things
© American Forest Foundation
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