Math at Home Math Access for Teachers
and Home Child Care Providers

CME Group Community Foundation



Rub A Shape

Children will make rubbings of foam board shapes.

Content Area Standard Target
  • Geometry
  • Analyze characteristics and properties of two-and three-dimensional shapes and develop mathematical arguments about geometric relationships
  • Recognize, name, build, draw, compare, and sort two- and three-dimensional shapes
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Obtain materials Obtain the Materials
  • Foam board shapes of circle, triangle and square (make your own)
  • 8.5” by 11” white or manila paper
  • Chubby crayons (with paper removed)
  • Scotch tape
  • The book, Dinosaur Shapes by Paul Stickland


Note: Small parts create a choking hazard for children. Make sure that all materials you choose to use for an activity or lesson with children meet safety requirements. Small parts are not appropriate for children who are 5 years of age or younger.

Introduce the activity Introduce the Activity
  1. Cut similar sized foam board shapes (circle, triangle and square).
  2. Read, Dinosaur Shapes by Paul Stickland or other appropriate book to introduce the topic.
  3. Show the children the foam board shapes, one at a time.
  4. Ask the children what they notice about each shape.
  5. Pass each shape around so each child can feel the edges while you help describe its attributes (i.e. the triangle has 3 sides and 3 corners)
  6. Say: "We are going to use our crayons to make these shapes magically appear!" 
Engage the children Engage the Children
  1. Tape the foam shapes on a table.  One shape by each chair.
  2. Tape a piece of paper over each shape (one small piece of tape on the top of the paper, one small piece of tape on the bottom of the paper).
  3. Say: "There is something hiding under this paper.  We are going to be detectives to find out what it is."
  4. Show children how to rub a crayon on its side all over the paper.
  5. Say: "Let’s feel the sides and points with our fingers and predict what shape is under the paper. Then we can rub our crayons over them to see which shape is under the paper and check our prediction."
  6. Say: (when the shape is revealed) “How many sides and points does your shape have?”  “Do you know what shape it is?”
  7. Remove the paper and replace with a blank sheet of paper.  Let the children move to another chair to rub a new shape.    
Encourage vocabulary Encourage Vocabulary
  • Triangle – A pointy shape with three sides and three corners (e.g., "A slice of pizza is a triangle.")   
  • Square A shape with four straight sides that are the same length or size and four corners
  • Circle – A round shape that has no straight edges or corners (e.g., "A wheel is a circle.")
  • Rectangle A shape with four sides and four right angles
  • OvalA stretched out circle that is shaped like an egg
  • Hexagon – A shape with six straight sides and six corners (e.g., A stop sign is a "hexagon".)

Glossary of MATH vocabulary

Make adaptations Make Adaptations

Supporting Children at Different Levels

Toddlers   Pre-K

Toddlers may:

  • Take the paper off of the shape to see what is underneath.
  • Hold the crayon upright and scribble on the paper.


Vertical line

Pre-K Children may:

  • Rub more complex shapes (i.e. rectangle, hexagon, etc.)
  • Use the foam shape for tracing.
  • Cut out the rubbed shape.


Home child care providers may:

  • Let the children see and feel the shape underneath, then recover it with the paper.
  • Put their hand over the child’s hand to demonstrate rubbing.


Home child care providers may:

  • Cut more complex shapes from the foam board and continue the activity using them.
  • Un-tape the foam shapes and let the children use them as stencils for tracing.
  • Give the children scissors to cut out their rubbings.


Books Books
  • Dinosaur Shapes by Paul Stickland (New York, NY: Sterling, 2009)
  • My Very First Book of Shapes by Eric Carle (New York, NY: Philomel, 2005)
  • A Circle Here, A Square There by David Diehl (New York, NY: Lark Books, 2007)
  • Shapes, Shapes, Shapes by Tana Hoban (New York, NY: Greenwillow Books, 1996)
Music and movement Music and Movement


Outdoor connections Outdoor Connections
  • Go on a shape hunt outdoors.  Walk around the block looking for circles, squares and triangles all around you.   Take photos of the things you see so you can make a neighborhood shape book with the children later.
  • Play Shape Hopscotch.  Draw a hopscotch board on your sidewalk with chalk.  Draw shapes in each box.  Tell the children to take turns jumping on each of the shapes.  When they land on the shape they can call out the name of the shape.


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