Maths Reception Spring Shapes

Hamilton's Reception Maths planning targets the key characteristics of effective early learning:

  • Through Exploring and Playing, children independently engage with their peers and their environment.
  • Active Learning group activities promote the motivation needed to be involved and to keep trying.
  • Guided Creating and Thinking Critically supports development of problem-solving & reasoning skills.

Maths Out Loud: whole-class counting, repetitive chants, rhymes, songs and a linked story to enjoy together.

Unit 1 Where is it? (suggested as 5 days)

Maths Out Loud

3-D Shapes

  • Give each child a 3-D shape to hold.
  • Display images of 3-D shapes on the interactive whiteboard OR stick 3-D shapes to the board using masking tape or sticky-tack.
  • Display a 3 by 3 grid of different shapes (see download).
  • Describe a shape by its position, e.g. It is above the black cuboid. OR It is beside the green cube.
  • Any child holding the same shape as the one you are describing, should stand up, i.e. any child holding a cube would stand up if you made the first statement.
  • Repeat, continuing to describe a shape on the grid with reference to its position.


The Grand Old Duke of York

Little Miss Muffet

Incey Wincey Spider

Half a pound of tuppenny rice. In this song, change the ‘on’ the table, to ‘under’ the table or to ‘beside’ the table, etc. Note up and down and in and out … what other position words could we use?


Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins

Little Star and other Shapes by J. Y. Quinn

You Will Need

Exploring and Playing

‘Animal bus’ (see resources); small world animals; assortment of materials for collage e.g. cubes, blocks, shapes, cotton wool, reels, paper etc; large paper; masking tape; plastic potato head or real potatoes; plastic body/ face parts or stick-on google eyes, pipe cleaners, pom poms etc; glue; toy cars; large sheet of paper; ramps, bridges, etc.

Active learning

3 identical hats or hats made from boxes; cat soft toy; ‘L-hand’ (see resources); coloured dot stickers; 3-D shapes; ‘3 by 3 grid’ (see resources); ‘Position words’ (see resources); ‘4 by 4 grid’ (see resources), ‘3 by 3 grid’ (see resources); ‘Number tiles 0 – 10’ (see resources); hall space; mats; benches

Creating and Thinking Critically

Lego or Duplo™; ‘4 by 4 grid’ (see resources); basket; objects e.g. small figures, coloured beads etc., ‘Position word cards’ (see resources); conker or other small item; ‘Position words poster’ (see resources); 3-D shapes in different colours and sizes

Unit 2 Explore and play with 3-D shapes (suggested as 5 days)

Exploring and Playing

  1. Painting shape-faces
  2. Junk modelling
  3. Sand
  4. Play-dough shapes

Active Learning

  1. Describing features of 3-D shapes
  2. Matching shapes to faces
  3. Penny for the face
  4. Making 3-D shapes

Maths Out Loud


  • Tape a 3-D shape (cube, cuboid, cone, sphere, pyramid or cylinder) to a child’s back.
  • Turn them round so that the class is looking at their back.
  • Ask children to describe the shape WITHOUT using its name.
  • Can the child guess what shape it is?
  • Repeat with other shapes and other children.


Incey Wincey Spider. The classic song/nursery rhyme.

3-D shapes. A rhyme to support recognition of 3-D shapes all around us.


Walter’s Wonderful Web by Tim Hopgood

Mouse Shapes by Ellen Stoll Walsh (2-D shapes)

Round is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Thong (2-D shapes but shapes found in the environment that could be converted to 3-D shapes)

Captain Invincible and the Space Shapes by Stuart J Murphy (specific to 3-D shapes; you decide whether the storyline is appropriate)

You Will Need

Exploring and Playing

Paint; plastic/wooden 3-D shapes, e.g. cube, cuboid, pyramids, prisms, cone and cylinder); trays; junk modelling items in different shapes e.g. cube/ cuboid boxes, kitchen rolls; masking tape; scissors; sticky labels, pens; tuff spot or sand tray; play sand; play-dough or salt dough; selection of 3-D shapes.

Active learning

Large cube; sticky-tack; cuboid; cone; everyday 3-D shaped objects (cube, cone, cuboid and cylinder); set of triangles; set of squares; set of circles; set of rectangles; selection of 3-D shapes; pennies; construction materials e.g. Knex™ or Magnetico™; card; Cone and Cylinder templates (see resources); glue; sellotape.

Creating and Thinking Critically

Large selection of 3-D shapes of different sizes and colours; 2 hoops; pieces of paper for labels; bag, pennies; A2 paper; ‘Carroll diagram’ (see resources for example); ‘Faces table’ (see resources).