Focus on Attributes!

Guest blogger: Bilge Cerezci

posted by Dr. Bilge Cerezci

As she sits on the floor, a three-year old starts stacking blocks with various shapes and sizes. After some experimentation, she realizes that it is hard to build a tower if a block lays on its curvy side.

 

What does this 3-year-old discover about shapes?

From an early age, young children notice different shapes have different characteristics, even if they don’t know their names yet. They realize that some shapes have points while others have none. They also discover some shapes have flat sides while others don’t. Traditionally, we teach children the names of basic two-dimensional shapes: circle, square, triangle and rectangle and assume that being able to name these shapes indicates a higher level of geometrical understanding. Unfortunately, this can be any further from the truth. In reality, young children need your help to focus on attributes of shapes rather than overall appearance. For example, as you build a block tower together, encourage your child to pay attention to defining attributes of the each shape you are using. You might say, “I see you are stacking up the blocks that have flat sides. Look, all of its sides are flat. How is this one (i.e., cube) different that this one (i.e, half circle block)?” As you continue with the activity, encourage your child to use her fingers to trace and feel the shape. Give them a plenty of time to feel the shapes, count the sides and even ask them to find an item in your home to that resembles that shape.

As children manipulate various three-dimensional shapes, they will eventually build deeper understanding geometrical shapes such as flat faces of solid (three-dimensional) shapes are two-dimensional shapes.

There are many ways to encourage and help your child to learn about shapes. Here are some of the games you might play with your children at home:

* Drawing shapes in sand or foamshapes in shaving cream

* Walking around shapes drawn or taped on ground

shapes on the floor

* Making shapes with bodiesbodies making shapes

Shapes are all around us and it is easy to play games like these at home, outside and elsewhere. Most importantly, make sure to have fun while doing it.

Bilge Cerezci

Bilge Cerezci began her career as an educator in Turkey. After earning her B.S. in child development and education from Bosphorus University in Istanbul, she worked as a counselor and lead teacher at Turkish preschools. She moved to Chicago in 2007 to pursue graduate studies at the Erikson Institute and completed her master’s in child development with an infancy specialization in 2009. Dr. Cerezci was awarded her Ph.D. in applied child development from Loyola University Chicago and the Erikson Institute in 2016. She currently works for the Erikson Institute’s Early Math Collaborative, which was launched in 2007 to enhance the quality of early math education by helping preschool and early elementary school teachers incorporate effective early math instruction into their classrooms. Dr. Cerezci’s work for the Early Math Collaborative focuses on the refinement of a new tool that can be used to measure the quality of mathematics instruction in preschools and elementary schools. She also has served as adjunct faculty in the Child Development Department of the City Colleges of Chicago and the Teacher Education Department at Loyola University.

Read more posts by Bilge Cerezci

3 Replies to “Focus on Attributes!”

  1. Helping children by getting them active and engaging in making shapes helps them to learn about attributes. Learning how each shape has attributes and using different ways to show that will help students understand and remember what attributes are. Acting out shapes, drawing shapes, picking shapes out.

  2. I love the very easy ideas that can be used to incorporate at daycare. Using foam is fun and drawing shapes is even more so!

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