Curriculum 2014 – Classifying shapes at KS1

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By John Dabell

Children classify shapes from an early age, but it’s important to rectify simple mistakes that creep in.

Children and rectangle

Shapes are everywhere…

Identifying and recognising shapes has always been an important part of the maths curriculum. From an early age children are taught to recognise the common shapes around them and they soon get pretty good at spotting them. They handle them, play with them, make other shapes with them and start to name them fluently. They see labelled pictures of them in the classroom, they see shape posters at school, there are shape books, there are numeracy-themed TV programmes, there are shapes galore on computer software and parents do their bit and name shapes when out and about and at home. Shapes are a fun part of maths.

However, there are some 2D shapes that are routinely mistaught in many classrooms. These need to be challenged because they are erroneous and do children no favours. Amazingly, some misconceptions can carry on for decades and become so deeply entrenched and institutionalised they go largely unnoticed.


...but classifying shapes can be tough

For example, ask your children (and colleagues) to name the following shapes.

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