Shape Sorting Magnet Board – Free Printable!

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Use this shape sorting activity – free printable! – to practice shape recognition and matching skills with your preschooler!

shape sorting free printable activity

Shapes, shape recognition and shape making are important preschool skills. Kids learn both gross and fine motor skills from being able to create shapes in different ways, and shape identification is a skill that they’ll use through the rest of their years in school!

Camden loves to play with shapes and is very interested in building with them, so we’ve started to work on shape recognition. Without any real instruction, he knows which shape is a ‘star’ and which shape is a ‘triangle.’ So I’m adding rectangle, square, circle and heart to his basic shape recognition skillset.

top view of boy playing with shape sorting activity 1

Start with What She Knows

If your child knows any shapes at all, any shape activities you want to do should feature that shape. Use a shape she knows to demonstrate the activity, so that she knows what success looks like.

For example, since Camden knows what stars are, when I introduced this shape sorting magnet board, I used the star to show him how to stick it on top of the star on the mat.

Skills Used in the Shape Sorting Activity

Preschoolers will practice noticing when objects are the same. There is one exact matching shape – same size and color – for each of the six shape options. Then there are two that are the same size, but different colors. Matching the one that is exactly the same in both ways will be the easiest. Matching the shapes that are the same shape and size but different colors will be slightly harder.

Preschoolers will practice physical skills, like grasping and stacking.

He’ll also practice naming the shapes, to help learn to attach a name to a shape when he sees it.

shape sorting activity preview main page

How to Make the Shape Sorting Activity

To make the shape sorting activity, you’re going to want to download the magnet board template and shapes. The popup should have popped up when you loaded the page. If not, you can download it here. Leave the mat as one page. Cut out the individual shapes. I laminated mine for extra sturdiness and lasting ability. I also printed the activity on cardstock instead of thin paper.

Along with the printable, you’ll need:

  • magnets with adhesive backs
  • a cookie sheet or other metal tray (I bought the $1 cookie sheets from the dollar store – they’re smaller than typical, which is the perfect size for magnet board activities)

Once you’ve printed (and laminated, optionally) the mat, stick a magnet to each corner of the back of the mat. Stick one magnet on the back of each individual shape.

Set the shape sorting activity mat on the cookie sheet. You can put the individual shapes on a second cookie sheet for easy accessibility, or you can just set them on the table next to the sorting mat.

magnet boards with shape sorting activity 1

How to Use the Shape Sorting Activity

Show your child the shape sorting activity mat. Point to a shape that she knows and ask her what it is. “Can you find the star?”

Then point to the individual shapes and ask her if she can find another star. When she does, tell her to stick it on top of the star on the mat. 

Repeat with the rest of the shapes. Your preschooler might like to do one of each shape and then be done, or pile all three stars and then all three squares, etc. However she wants to practice is fine! Just make sure you’re asking her what shape it is as she places it!

Bonus Activity and Connections

boy playing with play doh shapes 1

Read the book Shapes by John J. Reiss to see all the real-world examples of places we find these shapes.

Look around your house and see if you can find a square or a triangle or a heart.

Let your preschooler use the individual shapes to create pictures on the other cookie sheet or on the table or floor. 

Use playdoh and cookie cutters to cut out all of the shapes you see on the shape sorting activity and practice matching them – you can even lay them on the activity page (if you laminated it) and just wipe it off when you’re done!

We did this activity as one of our Learning Moments, so it is featured in our Weekly Roundups. Check out my Week 1 Weekly Roundup for other activities, or head over to my Instagram to see the activities day-by-day!

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