X Close





By Admin, on 13 February 2023


Although in the UK, the early years learning goals no longer include shapes, space and measures, as part of the maths curriculum (click here to read more), children will be exposed to a wide range of opportunities to learn about shapes and Development Matters (the non-statutory curriculum guidance for the early years foundation stage) still expects children to talk about and explore 2D and 3D shapes (for example, circles, rectangles, triangles and cuboids) using informal and mathematical language: ‘sides’, ‘corners’; ‘straight’, ‘flat’, ‘round’ .

At younger ages children are only expected to recognize these and see the difference, from year 1 onwards children are expected to name them and name some features of these shapes (see Table below).

So what are different types of shapes?

  • 2d shapes are completely flat and only have 2 dimensions such as width and height (but not depth).
  • 3d shapes have 3 dimensions and have width, height and depth.


Below is a list of common 2D shapes with their features and 3D equivalent. Those that are commonly used are highlighted in bold.

2D shape Features 3D equivalent
circle Round shape with no corners made from one curved line and each point on the curved line is the same distance to the center of the shape. sphere
square A four equal sides. four straight sides and four 90 degree angles. Cube
rectangle two pairs of equal sides. four straight sides and four 90 degree angles. Cuboid
trapezium One pair of parallel lines trapezoidal prism
Parallelogram Two pairs of parallel lines parallelepiped
Rhombus Two pairs of parallel lines with all sides equal in length and opposite corners are equal rhombohedron
triangle three sides and three corners Pyramid or prism (tetrahedron)
pentagon A shape with five sides and five equal angles Dodecahedron
oval A closed shape made by a curved line but not all points are a similar distance to the centre. Looks like a stretched circle. Ovoid
hexagon six sides that are equal in length and six angles that are equal in size hexagonal prism
N/A cone
N/A cylinder



4 columns by 5 rows with each containing coloured pictures of different 2-D shapes, including circle, triangle, etc. but also 3-D shapes: cuboid, prism etc,.,

Want to know more about Development matters and EYFS?

See links below




Leave a Reply