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

CME Group Community Foundation



Silly Circles

Children will identify, draw and describe attributes of a circle.

Content Area Standard Target
  • Geometry
  • Analyze characteristics and properties of two- and three – dimensional geometric shapes
    and develop mathematical arguments about geometric relationships
  • Specify locations and describe spatial relationships using coordinate gemotry and other representational systems
  • Recognize, name, build, draw, compare, and sort two- and three- dimensional shapes
  • Describe an object by its shape and location
  • Compose simple shapes to form larger shapes
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Obtain materials Obtain the Materials
  • The book, Round Is A Pancake by Joan Baranski.
  • Circles.  Pre-cut circles of all different colors & sizes.  Smallest one being the size of a bottle cap and largest being the size of a small plate.
  • Glue sticks and one large sheet of white paper (12” x 18”)
  • Markers.
  • Circle snack.  Oreos, banana or cucumber slices, dried apple slices.  Any food that comes in circle form or can be prepared into circles.

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. Explain to the children that today we are going to be talking about circles.  Ask: “Who can look around the room and point out a circle?”  “Can you describe the circle?” 
  2. Ask the children, using their pointing finger, to make a circle in the air.  Say: “Who can describe what they are doing with their finger?”
  3. Model making a circle in the air.  State: “We start at a point, go around and end at the same point that we started at.” 
  4. Introduce the book, Round is a Pancake.  Explain that the children will be going on a circle hunt.  Say: “Our job, while reading this book, is to not only identify all the objects in this book that are circles but to also point out all the circle objects in the book.” 
  5. Ask: “Let’s start by looking at the cover, can you point out the objects that are circles?”  The kids will name the balloons, the balls, the wheels on the wagons but might need some prompting to recognize the round shape of the children’s faces, the polka-dots on the dress and the round shape that the dog’s curled tail forms. 
  6. Read the book.  The text is printed in half circles and curves.  Say: “I am noticing that even the words are forming round shapes and curving on the page.”  The book also provides opportunities to identify spheres, cylinders, and circles that exhibit the concept of roundness.  On the last few pages of the book, complex scenes filled with different objects encourage children to search for additional round objects.
Engage the children Engage the Children
  1. Create a picture with circles.  Give the children the paper, the glue sticks, markers and circles and explain that they are going to create their own picture that contains many circle objects, just like the book.  Use the book as an example when brainstorming what objects the children could include in their picture.  Set expectations for the picture.  Say: “I am thinking that your picture should have at least 4 circle objects of any color or size that you want.  It can have more but you want to have at least 4.” 
  2. Support the children who are having a difficult time getting started or even visualizing a picture with circle objects.  Encourage them to look around the room and notice all the circled objects, use the illustrations in the book to help them with their thought process.  Some children will be able to create a scene with various circle objects included in the scene and other children will have isolated round objects on their page. 
  3. Share the children’s artwork.  Have the children share their artwork with one another, asking each other to point out the circles within their pictures.
  4. Eat the “Circle” snack.  Again, point out that there are circles in the food we eat.  Enjoy the Circle Snack!

Additional Extensions

  • Encourage the children to talk about the attributes of a circle.  Round, never ending, made up of a closed curved line.  Explain that a circle is a type of line.  Say: “Imagine a line that is bent all the way around until its ends join.”  Give the children pieces of yarn that the children can manipulate from line to circle.
  • Have the children go on a “Circle Hunt” around the classroom.  They can identify the various circles in and around the room and write down what the objects are and where they are located.  The children can share their findings.
Encourage vocabulary Encourage Vocabulary
  • Point An exact position or location (e.g., "We start at a point and go around and end at the same point that we started at.")
  • Round – Shaped like a circle (e.g., "The words are forming round shapes and curving on the page.")

Glossary of MATH vocabulary

Make adaptations Make Adaptations

Supporting Children at Different Levels

Toddlers   Pre-K

Toddlers may:

  • Not be able to distinguish circles from ovals.
  • Think spheres are also circles.
Vertical line

Pre-K Children may:

  • Be ready to begin identifying other circular shapes, such as cylinders, spheres, etc.
  • Want to expand their vocabulary by talking about never ending and that a circle is made up of a closed line curve.
  • Want to compare circle to other basic shapes (square, triangle…).
  • Be able to write out the word circle and words that describe the circle.

Home child care providers may:

  • Point out differences between ovals and circles but not press toddlers to distinguish between the two.
  • Use vocabulary such as sphere to correct any incorrect use of terminology but not focus too heavily on toddlers getting it exaclty right.


Home child care providers may:

  • Use the extension activity suggested and have the children glue their formed circles that they make from yarn and then allow the children to write about the circle.
  • Reinforce vocabulary by engaging the children in a dialogue that describes not only circles, but cylinders, spheres, and other round/roundish shapes.
  • Have the children compare circles to other basic shapes and construct a  “Comparision Guide” that allows the children to write or draw down the attributes of each shape and then compare attributes.


Books Books
  • Round Is A Pancake by Joan Baranski (New York: Dutton Juvenile, 2000)
  • Round Is A Mooncake by Roseanne Thong (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2000)
  • Circles, Cylinders, & Spheres by Peter Patilla (London: Belitha Press Ltd., 1999)
Music and movement Music and Movement
  • I am a big fan of having music on while children work.  While children are working on their art project, play Joni Mitchell’s “The Circle Game” in the background.
Outdoor connections Outdoor Connections
  • Go on a “Circle Hunt” outdoors.  Have the children identify and draw all the circles they see in nature.


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