In the Foundation Stage your child is likely to be introduced to the following shapes:

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**circle**, or round shape, which is drawn using only one continuous line. There are no corners. Get your child to measure across a circle with a ruler from top to bottom, and side to side. As long as their ruler crosses through the middle of the circle (mark this on with a dot for them) they should read the same number both times.

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**oval,**is a curved shape, also drawn using only one continuous line. Like a circle, there are no corners, but unlike a circle the distance from top to bottom and side to side will be different. Again, get you child to measure using a ruler. Even if they do not know what centimetres are, they will understand that one number is higher, or at least different, than the other. Another way of describing an oval to a young child is 'a squashed circle'.

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**semi-circle**, is half a circle. That is, a circle cut into two perfectly equal pieces, using a straight line through the middle. Fold a circle in half to demonstrate how the two halves are exactly the same.

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**heart**is another curved shape your child will be expected to recognise in the foundation stage.

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**star,**is a shape with lots of points. The most commonly drawn star shapes have 5 points but they can have many more than this.

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**Square,**has four straight sides that are exactly the same length. The top and bottom lines are drawn flat across the page (horizontally). They do not slope at all. The two sides are drawn straight up and down (vertically). They do not slope at all. If I were to draw a stick man sitting on the top, or bottom line, of a square his legs would be stretched out flat in front of him. He would not be able to slide down the line! If I were to draw a stick man standing against the sides of a square, he would be standing up straight. He would not lean backwards or forwards.

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**oblong**, is a shape with four straight sides, but unlike a square the sides are not all the same length. The top and bottom lines are exactly the same length, and the two sides are exactly the same length. The top and bottom lines are drawn flat across the page (horizontally). They do not slope at all. The two sides are drawn straight up and down (vertically). They also do not slope. If I were to draw a stick man sitting on the top, or bottom, line of an oblong his legs would be stretched out flat in front of him. He would not be able to slide down the line! If I were to draw a stick man standing against the sides of an oblong, he would be standing up straight. He would not lean backwards or forwards.

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**rectangle,**is another name given to a square or an oblong. Both square's and oblong's are rectangles because the top and bottom lines are both perfectly horizontal and the sides are both perfectly vertical. Opposite sides of a rectangle are also always the same length.

An oblong and a rectangle are virtually the same thing. However, an oblong never has all four sides the same length. Thus, a square or an oblong can also be called a rectangle, but a square cannot be called an oblong.

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**diamond,**is a shape with four straight sides and four corners. The sides are all the same length. The typical diamond shape, which a child in the Foundation stage will be expected to recognise, is that which is essentially a square with two of it's corners squashed together. However, in reality a square is also a diamond (also called a rhombus). A diamond will have opposite sides which are parallel. That is, opposite sides that follow exactly the same direction as each other. They also have opposite angles, or corners, which are the same size.

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**triangle,**has three straight sides and three corners.

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**quadrilateral,**is any shape with four straight sides and four corners (this includes a square, oblong and diamond).

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**pentagon,**is any shape with five straight sides and five corners.

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**hexagon,**is any shape with six straight sides and six corners.

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**heptagon,**is any shape with seven straight sides and seven corners.

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**octagon,**is any shape with eight straight sides and eight corners.

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**nonagon,**is any shape with nine straight sides and nine corners.

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**decagon,**is any shape with ten straight sides and ten corners.

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**hendecagon,**is any shape with eleven straight sides and eleven corners.

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**dodecagon,**is any shape with twelve straight sides and twelve corners.

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**triskaidecagon,**is any shape with thirteen straight sides and thirteen corners.

And yes, they do keep going. There is even a name for a shape with one million straight sides and one million corners (a Megagon, incase you are interested). And no, a child in the Foundation Stage does not need to know all these. However, once Garden Girl knew a hexagon was called that because it had 6 sides, she was prompted to ask what shapes with other quantities of sides are called. She kept going till she reached ten, but when she asked, I didn't know 7 or 9.

If all that hasn't given you a headache and you want to know more these links are very useful

http://www.mathsisfun.com/shape.html

For some useful downloadable resources have a look at Instant Display

For a short and fun song about simple shapes from BBC Learning, look here.

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