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Shape Trees: matching activity for toddlers & pre-schoolers

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DIY Math for little learners

This shape match activity is a creative way to get little learners recognising shapes and colours in a fun, playful way. It is suitable from around the age of 2.5 years and up…

Z (3.8 years) helped to create this fall/ Autumn themed activity. First, we talked about the colour that trees turn in the Autumn, Z then decided that her trees would be orange, purple and dark green. Having this discussion first was important, so that Z understands the world around us and how the trees start to change with the seasons. This allowed her to choose the colours, rather than me doing it for her.

As for the shapes, we’ll this really depends on the amount of cardboard tubes you have. We decided to do pairs for a range of activities, another time we are going to add rectangles, semicircles and hexagons.

Activity suggestions include a simple shape match, sequencing and naming the shape, e.g. ‘can you find…’

You will need

  • 6-10 cardboard tubes
  • Cardboard
  • Sharp scissors
  • Black crayon
  • Paint Sticks (we used the Little Brian brand)


Take a flick through the photo gallery above to see the process.

  • Cut the cardboard into rough circle, triangle and square shapes.
  • Draw corresponding shapes on the cardboard tubes
  • Cut slits (approx 1-2 cm) on either side of the tubes – see pictured example
  • Colour in the shapes – great to get your littles involved in this part!

Key Learning

  • Making connections to the world around us – talking about where we find trees and what happens to their leaves in Autumn.
  • Early maths – in the form of shape, space and measure. Identifying shapes, talking about their properties.
  • Language development – identifying shapes and colours. Talking about seasonal change
  • Problem solving and critical thinking – matching the trees, making patterns and sequencing.

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Sian Thomas

Sian Thomas

Sian is a trained teacher mama to three awesome children and wife to Greg. As a family of expats, they travel the world every couple of years for new adventures. Right now, they live in Vienna, Austria.

One thing Sian is super passionate about? Helping mums worldwide navigate the early years of parenthood.

You can join her on her brand new venture, This Playful Home, by visiting www.thisplayfulhome.com or clicking the email sign up button below!

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