Shapes. They are everywhere. There are even shapes I can't remember the names of and some shape names I remember but have no idea what they look like. Rhombus anyone?
Anyhow, sometimes pointing out shapes seems like a petty thing to "play" with children but I just want to remind you that acknowledging those octagons and parallelograms helps prepare children for geometry. Sure that's a few years down the road but why not help them now?
Shape Museum is a fun little game we like to play at our house. Or maybe I just like it and the kids feel like it is busy work but, being kids, it's their job to entertain me. I don't know but it does entertain my children for 10-15 minutes WHILE teaching them about geometry. And when I feel like I'm teaching someone, anyone, something about math, I feel brilliant. Obviously.
So here is how you play.
Tell your kids that you are setting up a shape museum exhibit and you need their help. Give them a pictorial check list of shapes to go "find" in the house. Younger kids can find circles (quarter), squares (napkin), rectangles (blanket), ovals (rug from the Barbie house), etc. Challenge older children to find three dimensional shapes like a sphere (ball), cube (dice), cylinder (can of black beans), cone (party hat), rectangular prism (cereal box), etc.
Set a time for 10-15 minutes and let your children go on a shape hunt. You go on one, too. It's pretty lame if the museum curator doesn't bring anything to the table.
When you get all your "stuff," organize your museum exhibit. Let your children decide how to classify. Will they classify by shape? By dimension? Color? Texture? I'm always surprised at how my children see classification categories differently than I.