Preschool Geometry: Building Shapes with Playdough


Triangles, circles, diamonds, OH MY!  

What better way to teach preschoolers about shapes then by letting young children build them?! Sure, you could read some fun books and point them out in your homeschool or classroom, but enjoy this play-based shape exploration activity using play- dough!  It's a great way to learn & play today! 

Grab the playdough and start building shapes!  Kids of all ages will love the opportunity to roll, mold, and build shapes, but especially your preschool, Kindergarten, and 1st graders will LOVE this hands-on geometry activity! 

building shapes with playdoh

I love making learning fun in our homeschool...I try anyways! In an effort to do that, I find myself online a lot looking for inspiration.  My search led me to TeachersPayTeachers, where I found some cute printable shapes cards. 

And I decided right then we had to use them!

You just need a few materials and you are ready to explore geometry with the little ones by building shapes with playdoh; and you will see that this activity is easily adaptable for older kiddos learning 3D shapes. 

And if you homeschool with toddlers underfoot you can just let them explore with playdough or add in some pipe-cleaners or straws.

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What is Geometry?

Geometry is all about shapes and their properties

For my non-math mind, the term "geometry" sounds really scary.  

You say "Geometry", I say "Huh?!"  

But really, geometry is just a fancy word for learning about shapes-- 2D "flat" shapes, angles, symmetry, and 3D objects, where you can visibly see ALL around the shape, are just some of the concepts that encompass the term, geometry! 

Teaching Shapes to Preschoolers

Learn about shapes through hands-on, playful learning activities like building them!

What better way to get little kids learning about geometry than by building shapes with a fun, hands-on manipulative like play doh?!

  • craft sticks
  • play dough
  • shape cards (grab this FREE resource HERE
  • laminator*

Who knew teaching shapes to preschoolers could be so fun?!  

And wouldn't you know it, my oldest (who's too cool for playdoh) wanted a chance to build, too!

Using playdough for this activity is great for fine motor skills, too!  There is a lot of pinching, rolling, and squishing involved, requiring use of pincer grasp, thumbs, palms, etc! 


Head over to Teachers Pay Teachers to print the shape cards.

Run them through your trusty laminating machine.  You could forgo this step, but sticky playdoh + little hands = printable that won't last long! 

Grab a tub or two of play dough and a stash of craft sticks {ours came from CraftProjectIdeas}.

Start with one of the shape cards and manipulate the playdough to make several balls. 

Next add in the craft sticks and continue until your shape is made!
building 2d shapes using playdoh

I worked on some basic shapes with Little Sis-- the triangle, square, and rhombus.

This was also a great opportunity to expand my preschooler's vocabulary, as we typically call a rhombus a diamond.


As you construct the shapes talk about the different characteristics of each shape, its sides, and corners.

What makes a triangle a triangle?

How is a triangle different than a rhombus?

geometric shapes activity for kids

On the other side of the table, Big Brother went to work building a hexagon and then kept building off of it.  He ended up creating quite a creation of his own!


Below is his completed play dough and craft stick sculpture!  With the toothpicks on top, it reminds me of a castle or fortified city.

Pretty cool!

I just love how presenting my kids with just a few materials sparked an afternoon of learning through play!  After all, my motto is LEARN & PLAY TODAY


It proved to be a great activity to work on math skills, but also allowed for lots of exploration!

A winner for all ages!  You could easily eliminate the shape cards and just allow for free play.  Let your little engineers in the making build to their hearts content and see if they figure out how to make a shape all by themselves.

This hands-on shapes activity is a great way to add a little STEM to your day.

If you gave your child three balls of playdough and 3 craft sticks, what shape could they build?! 

See!  Teaching geometry, which is a fancy word for learning about shapes, doesn't have to be scary!!

..... Now, trigonometry is a whole other issue.  Let's simply not go there : ) 

This activity was originally posted as part of our Fine Motor Fridays Series.  

More fine motor activities from our friends:

Learn about our book! 
99 fine motor ideas for ages 1 to 5


  1. How fun! I like the sculpture, it reminds me of a castle with little flags on top!


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