I made the Puff Pastry Valentine Cookies and was wondering what to do with my leftover odds and ends of dough. Then it occurred to me -- why not use the remaining puff pastry to cut out other shapes. If the cookies can be hearts, why not triangles, diamonds, rectangles, and so on? THEN I thought... What a fun way to practice Geometric Shapes!
Simply roll out the dough and have your child cut the shapes freehand. Then you brush them with some orange marmalade and bake them. Then your whole family -- including adults -- must ask for a cookie by its proper name in order to eat them. :-) "May I have a rhombus please?"
Montessori calls these Geometry Plane Shapes (as opposed to the Geometric Solids which are 3 dimensional) and there's a wonderful nomenclature material for learning them available online as a pdf for just $5.99 at Montessori for Everyone. I love the nomenclature idea although for some things it gets really tedious and repetitive (Dr. Montessori was huge on children learning the correct vocabulary for things -- and early!). However, for the geometric shapes, I would recommend this material to any homeschooling family.
The general idea behind nomenclature is that you have two sets of the material. They look identical except for one key difference: one set has the picture of the thing and the name under it; the other has the picture of thing but the name has been cut off and is stored separately. After presenting the names of the Geometric Plane Shapes (or whatever nomenclature material you are using), the child is allowed to use the nomenclature material for independent practice and reinforcement. You laminate it all -- or don't, if you are not in a classroom and the materials won't be receiving heavy use -- and give it to the child. The picture cards are together. The name cards are together. The uncut picture & name cards are together. The child then lays out the picture cards in an orderly way and carefully places the correct name card under each picture. The uncut cards which show the "answers" are used as a way for the child to check his/her work and are called a Control in Montessori terminology. A Control promotes independence on the part of the child.
ONE KEY DIFFERENCE between Waldorf and Montessori is that the Montessori method focuses on the interaction between the material and the child. The teacher only steps in every once in a while to assess and move the child on to a new material. But the best teacher (it is thought) is one who the child barely knows is there.
You don't have to agree with this philosophy to find the materials useful in your classroom. Montessori materials are beautifully made and very organized. As a homeschooler who is working with children of multiple ages, you could use nomenclature to have one child practice the names of the geometric shapes independently while you present a lesson to another. Or two children could work together to match the picture cards and name cards and then double-check their work using the control. Even a traditional classroom teacher could use it. Think of it as a worksheet that is hands-on, fun, easy to make, and which you don't have to grade!