Nana Camp – Learning about Shapes!



I take care of my two youngest grandchildren, Nora and Max, while their parents work.  Nora will be 4 in August and Max is 2 1/2.   I decided it might be helpful to have a little structure for a small part of our day together, so last week I started Nana Camp.  So far they have been loving it – just the routines and songs and games make that time in the morning a little special.  For the first week our theme was shapes.  Nora was already pretty confident and Max knew a few but they both had fun with the activities.  I even made up lesson plans (guess who misses teaching a bit?)

Nana Camp ideas

We start each day with a special handshake – I shared all these in a previous post about greetings and celebrations if you are interested!  Then we have a visit from Rosco – again the details of Rosco are explained in a post under the Language Arts section.  Each day Rosco (a large dog puppet) brings an alphabet letter, and the children do something simple with him that begins with the letter – we ate apples for A, bounced a ball for B, played catch the cow for C, etc.  He gives them a big lick and a cut out letter to take home.

Next I brought out my little critter puppet – and named him Shape Monster.


I cut out felt shapes and put them on the flannel board.  Each day we concentrated on one shape and learned a song about it.

Shape songs

Every day we chanted off the words to the Shape Monster book, this was something I did with my Kindergartners and just adapted for my little ones.

As we said the words “Shape Monster, shape monster, munch!  munch!  munch!  How about a red circle for your lunch?”  I chose one of the kids to come and take the red circle down from the flannelboard and “feed” it to Shape Monster.  This puppet does have a slit in the back of his mouth so he can “swallow.”  Each day Shape Monster ate each of the shapes, and Nora colored the page in the Shape Monster book.  The rest of each day’s activities emphasized one shape.

Shape Monster 1

Shape Monster 2

Shape Monster 3

We only spend about 10-15 minutes doing these things, but then I brought out some other activities during the day.  As you see in my ‘lesson plan’ we had a different shaped snack each day.  I also made a road in each of the shapes that I brought out one at a time because Max loves matchbox cars.

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I cut these out of black foam and used white-out to write the dotted lines.  I made another set out of the stiff kind of gray felt and used a marker for the lines.


For circles I introduced Bingo markers, can’t believe I hadn’t let the kids play with those before!  They were a staple in Kindergarten.


As I was scrolling through Pinterest ideas about shapes I came upon the idea of a Tuff Spot.  It came from England – basically a washable tray that you can use for everything from play-dough and shaving cream to sand, rice or paint.  I found a version on Amazon and my husband built a stand for it out of PVC pipe.


Here the children are cutting play-dough circles.  The shiny surface is a piece of sparkly poster-board I cut to fit because we used this on the 4th of July and I wanted the stars they were cutting to look sparkly!  I also put glitter into the play-dough.  Most of the week we have used this outside but it is really easy to take in or out.  Of course you don’t need a special table for any art activities but it is fun.


For squares the children put together a square man – I precut the squares but I am trying to find more opportunities to let them cut.  Nora handles scissors pretty well but Max is a novice!  They used a glue stick pretty independently.  I wondered how Max would put his together but he really took his cue from Nora.

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I wanted to emphasize the 3 sides of the triangle so they counted 3 tongue depressors and we glued them together.  Then they used a Sharpie (don’t tell their mom but they didn’t get it on their clothes) to draw shapes and then watercolor painted over them.


For rectangles I gave each of them a clean sponge and took a tub with a small amount of water in it out onto our driveway.  I showed them how to squeeze it out a bit so when they made a print it was in the shape of a rectangle.  They loved this!


Another day I drew shapes on the driveway and we played several games running around and stepping on the shapes while we yelled out the names.

Nora is interested in sight words so I put out the words ‘I, see, a” in a pocket chart.  This is one of those $1 pocket charts I bought at Target and again my handy husband made a frame from pvc pipe.  I set the words out to make a sentence by putting a different shape at the end.  I see a circle, etc.  She loved using the pointer to read it.



I hope you are enjoying summer time and the little people in your life too!



Shape Monster

I loved using puppets in my Kindergarten class as teaching tools for lots of concepts.  This was Shape Monster, and I used him at the beginning of the year.  In one of my pocket charts I had an interactive poem that I found online:

Shape Monster, Shape Monster

Munch!  Munch!  Munch!

How about a red circle for your lunch?

I put a large mouth picture next to the Munch, munch, munch.  For the word red I wrote it in red marker, and I put a red circle by the word circle.  Then I had other color words written in the matching color, and a square, triangle and rectangle in different colors.

Using a pocket chart allowed me to talk about the exclamation points, question marks, using expression reading, spaces between the words – pointing out letters within words, etc. etc.

After reading the poem with RED CIRCLE for a few days I introduced Shape Monster.  We were doing other things to reinforce circles that week – bingo markers, etc.  I kept my teaching puppets in a castle that my husband built for my classroom, when Shape Monster came out he had different sizes of foam circles stuck on his fur.  I had chosen several children to find things around the classroom that are circles, and I asked one child to find a shape that was not a circle to try to trick Shape Monster.

One at a time I had these children come up to show their circle things to Shape Monster.  Of course I was very dramatic with him, and used a funny gruff voice.  He looked closely at the circle, smelled it – talked about how it didn’t have any flat sides or corners – he would say – it looks like a circle, it smells like a circle, etc.  Then he would gobble it out of their hand and eat it!  Of course they howled with delight!

You can see in this picture that a special feature of this puppet was that he has a slit in the back of the mouth – so he could actually swallow things.  You could do this with any puppet I think, but this one was made this way.

Then the child who had a different shape would bring it up and after sniffing and looking Shape Monster would try to taste it and yell “PATOOEY!”  and spit it out.

Then Shape Monster would go back into the castle.

Our district math curriculum requires students to recognize, create and describe circle, square, triangle and rectangle.  Helping them learn and remember how to describe the shapes was a challenge – but I found simple songs that really made a difference.  We made a very simple shape book that used the words from the pocket chart, and included the songs that reinforced describing shapes.  I really felt like most children came in recognizing those 4 basic shapes, they sometimes confused triangle and rectangle – but describing them was new.  I did one shape a week to give lots of time and practice rereading the pocket chart and singing the song, so this book was not completed for a few weeks.

The last week I changed the pocket chart to

Shape Monster, Shape Monster

Munch, munch, munch!

What do  you look like eating your lunch?

Please click on this link to download a copy of this blank book.

Shape masters

This page with the song was opposite the page where the children simply cut out a circle and glued it on.  I used to have them turn the circle into an object – but I didn’t feel like it added to my objective for making the book.  Of course we made a group list of things that are circles and posted it in the room.  The circle song was to the tune of Frere Jacques –

This is a circle, this is a circle

How can you tell?  How can you tell?

It goes round and round.

No ends can be found

It’s a circle, it’s a circle.

The tune was You are my Sunshine

This is a square, a pretty square

It has 4 sides, they’re all the same

It has 4 corners, 4 pointed corners

It is a square, that is it’s name.

I changed this song after I photographed this page to make it easier for the children to remember the description.

Tune – Row, Row, Row your Boat

This is a triangle

Look and you will see

It has 3 corners and 3 sides

Count them 1, 2, 3!

Tune – London Bridges

2 sides long and 2 sides short, 2 sides short, 2 sides short

2 sides long and 2 sides short

It’s a rectangle.

For this page I gave the children an assortment of shapes to cut out and assemble as their own version of Shape Monster.