Classroom Activity

Shape Hunt


This large and small group activity helps make students aware of basic shapes in their everyday environment and how these shapes make up objects in their surroundings. Students will hear a story and view shapes in its illustrations. Then, in small groups with the teacher, they will be invited to search for specific shapes in their classroom and school environment and tally how many of each they find. Students will be given the opportunity to tally independently, moving at their own pace. Then, with their group, they will count the total number of each type of shape they identified.

From the Virtual Pre-K: Ready For Math toolkit

Related Home Activities

Play Dough Shapes

What's in the Bag?



  • 4.B.EC: Communicate needs, ideas, and thoughts.
  • 6.A.ECa: Use concepts that include number recognition, counting, and one-to-one correspondence.
  • 6.C.ECb: Connect numbers to quantities they represent using physical models and representations.
  • 9.A.EC: Recognize geometric shapes and structures in the environment.
  • 10.A.ECa: Represent data using concrete objects, pictures, and graphs.
  • 10.B.EC: Gather data about themselves and their surroundings.


  • LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT: Listening & Understanding; Speaking & Communicating
  • LITERACY: Early Writing
  • MATHEMATICS: Number & Operations; Geometry & Spatial Sense
  • SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Self-Concept; Cooperation; Social Relationships
  • APPROACHES TO LEARNING: Initiative & Curiosity

Lesson Objectives

  • Recognize basic shapes within their environment
  • Use a chart to count the shapes they see
  • Use tally marks to represent shapes they find on the shape hunt
  • Analyze the results of the hunt by referencing the tally chart

Literature Suggestions

  • Circles, Triangles, and Squares
    by Tana Hoban
  • Color Zoo
    by Lois Ehlert
  • Shapes, Shapes, Shapes
    by Tana Hoban
  • So Many Circles, So Many Squares
    by Tana Hoban


  • One of the shape books to introduce the activity
  • A clipboard and writing utensil for each child
  • Tally chart with basic shapes on it

Lesson Description

  1. Many books and stories will work well for shape identification; however, the Tana Hoban books are ideal. They are simple and include photographs of shapes found in everyday objects. Read the story at least once on a day prior to doing this activity so the students can enjoy the basic words and photographs. Hearing the story a second time will make the children more comfortable identifying the specific shapes seen in each photo. Explain that shapes are all around us, and that today you are going to read the book and pause on each page to identify shapes that you see. Have the students help you identify the shapes.
  2. Tell the students that they are going on a shape hunt to find shapes in the school just like the author did in the book. Explain that they will record how many shapes they find by using a shape tally chart. Review the basic properties of each shape that they will be hunting for. Then, model using the tally chart by finding some shapes in the classroom and marking tallies on your chart to represent them.
  3. Split the class into small groups of students for you to take on shape hunts. You might consider this shape hunt activity to be one of your centers during center time. Have other centers in the classroom supervised by the assistant or parent volunteers for the rest of your class. Lead each small group of students into the hallway and pause occasionally for the students to identify shapes and mark them on their tally charts. Spend about 10 minutes per group, stopping and pausing for the students to tally new shapes that they find.
  4. When you return to the classroom, stay with your small group. Have students count up their total tallies for each type of shape and comment on which shape has the most tallies.
  5. At the end of each row of their charts, encourage the students to write the numeral representing the number of each type of shape found.

Teacher Tip

In advance, decide which shapes you will put on the tally chart based on your students’ needs and current levels. You might start with just 1 or 2 shapes and add more for future shape hunts later in the school year. If students cannot find the shapes easily in the school environment, model seeking and finding one. Help students see the shapes by outlining them with your arms/fingers.

Extension Ideas

As the children become comfortable recognizing shapes in their environment, there are limitless possibilities for extensions. You can take photographs of the shapes they find and create a class shape book like Hoban’s. Or have the students keep a record of the shapes they see by drawing pictures of them in a shape journal.

For other center activities, give children foam shapes to explore and then sort by property (e.g., number of sides and corners, or round/curved or straight sides.) Or give children pre-cut shapes to paste into a collage.