Preschoolers can learn that a merry-go-round is a circle.

Sensory Activities With Shapes & Colors for Preschoolers

by Freddie Silver

Your preschooler loves playing games and doing arts and crafts projects with you, so why not engage in sensory learning activities that can give her a head start? She won't notice the difference between playtime that is just for fun and playtime that will furthering her understanding of the shapes and colors around her. There are many sensory activities you can do together that will help her develop into a little Einstein.

Why a Sensory Experience?

Learning occurs for many of us through all five senses, but we each have a preferred learning style. While our senses of smell and taste are essential for our culinary enjoyment, the three senses applicable to learning style and relevant to schooling are include auditory (hearing), visual (sight) and tactile (touch). It's useful to figure out which learning style is dominant in your little one and how she learns best, but using all the senses in different activities can enhance learning.

Balance and Movement

Kinesthetic learners need to be active to learn best. They use their whole bodies and their sense of touch to best understand their world. Show her pictures of circles and draw a circle on paper to introduce the shape's name. Then take your child on a merry-go-round to help her learn the meaning of a circle as she tries to keep her balance and enjoys the feeling of getting dizzy. Or when you're at the beach, draw circles in the sand with your bare feet. Feeling the grains of sand with her toes will help her understand the concept.


Preschoolers' tactile sense is important to their learning. Just as they did as babies and toddlers, they are still exploring their understanding of the world around them by touching everything they can get their little hands on. They love to finger paint, so use the opportunity to name the colors as your youngster covers herself with the paint up to her elbows. She can also try painting with a large brush. Draw the circles, squares and triangles in primary colors to combine shapes and colors and have your little one join you. Cut shapes out of different textured materials -- try corrugated cardboard, tinfoil, crinkly tissue paper as well as a variety of fabrics including high-pile fabrics like fur and velvet. Name the shapes as your little one runs her hands over the variety of surfaces. Use solid colored-fabric and name the colors as well.

Sight and Sound

Don't forget the obvious senses of sight and sound. Play music while you draw different shapes and see if your little one can associate the shape and color with the music. Cut large, solid-colored shapes out of cardboard and play matching games where your youngster sorts all the blue shapes into one pile and all the reds into another. Then have her sort the blue pile by shape -- all the circles in one stack, all the squares in another. Let her play with the lids from your cooking pots. Tell her the shape is a circle as she spins it on the floor and enjoys the loud clattering sound when it falls.


About the Author

Freddie Silver started writing newsletters for the Toronto District School Board in 1997. Her areas of expertise include staff management and professional development. She holds a master's degree in psychology from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing her PhD at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, focusing on emotions and professional relationships.

Photo Credits

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