our everyday life

Are Stencils Good for Teaching Toddlers to Draw Shapes?

by Kim Blakesley

An educational goal for preschool and kindergarten-aged children is to recognize the basic shapes of a circle, square, triangle, rectangle and oval. Starting the learning process as a toddler provides your child with necessary skills at an early age. Rigid plastic stencils are the most common stencil to teach shapes to toddlers. Their inflexible, raised edge ensures that the toddler will stay within the stencil’s shape. The stencil is a tool that helps your toddler begin to understand the connection of lines will create recognizable shapes. It is important to speak to your toddler during the drawing process so they connect the name of the shape with the drawing.

Rigid Stencils

An educational goal set for preschool and kindergarten-aged children is the recognition of the basic shapes of a circle, square, triangle, rectangle and oval. Starting the learning process as a toddler provides your child with necessary educational skills at an early age. The use of rigid stencils, made of plastic, is the most common stencil to teach shapes to toddlers. The inflexible, raised edge ensures that the writing tool stays within the designated area. The stencil is a tool that helps your toddler begin to understand that these lines will create recognizable shapes. It is important to speak to your toddler during the drawing process so she can connect the name of the shape with the drawing.

Stencil to Tracing

Fine motor skills are developed as your toddler masters the skill of drawing shapes with stencils. The muscles in her hands and arms become more steady, and her brain begins to recognize the shapes easily. Transition from the stencil to tracing to further develop your toddler's ability to draw shapes. The ability to draw around the outside edge of a stencil is different than tracing the shape. It is your turn as the adult to lightly trace the shape onto a piece of paper. Give the paper with the light lined shapes to your toddler. Help her draw over the top of the lines to create the shape without the stencil. This process will help your toddler understand that she can make same shape without using a stencil.

Introduce More Stencils

Introduce additional stencils to your toddler after she has mastered the basic shapes. These additional shapes include a star, a heart, a diamond and an egg shape. Your toddler will understand how to use the stencils, but she may not know the names of the shapes. Work with your toddler to name each shape after she has completed the shapes.

Combining Shapes

Continue the learning process by showing your toddler how to combine shapes to make objects. A simple example she can make is that of three circles on top of one another to make a snowman. Your toddler will begin to create objects once she realizes that combining shapes make other things. Ask your toddler about each of her drawings. This will spur her imagination and creativity.

About the Author

Kim Blakesley is a home remodeling business owner, former art/business teacher and school principal. She began her writing and photography career in 2008. Blakesley's education, fine arts, remodeling, green living, and arts and crafts articles have appeared on numerous websites, including DeWalt Tools, as well as in "Farm Journal" and "Pro Farmer."

Photo Credits

  • James Woodson/Photodisc/Getty Images