Shape - Definition with Examples

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What are Shapes?

In geometry, a shape can be defined as the form of an object or its outline, outer boundary or outer surface.


Everything we see in the world around us has a shape. We can find different basic shapes such as the two-dimensional square, rectangle, and oval or the three-dimensional rectangular prism, cylinder, and sphere in the objects we see around us. These geometric shapes appear in objects we see as credit cards, bills and coins, finger rings, photo frames, dart boards, huts, windows, magician’s wands, tall buildings, flower pots, toy trains, and balloons.

Shapes around us in the real world


Different Types of Shapes

Shapes can be classified into open and closed shapes.

Types of shapes-open shapes closed shapes

Closed geometric shapes can further be put into two broad categories, namely two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes.

Types of shapes – 2D two-dimensional and 3D three-dimensional shape

Here’s a list of 2-D or two-dimensional shapes with their names and pictures:

Two-Dimensional Geometric Shapes
Name of the shape : Picture of the shape :
Circle circle
Semi - circle semi circle
Oval oval
Triangle triangle
Square square
Rectangle rectangle
Parallelogram parllelogram
Rhombus rhombus
Trapezium trapezium
Kite kite
Pentagon pentagon
Hexagon hexagon
Heptagon heptagon
Octagon octagon
Nonagon nonagon
Decagon decagon


Here’s a list of 3-D or three-dimensional shapes with their names and pictures:

Three-Dimensional Geometric Shapes
Name of the shape : Picture of the shape :
Sphere sphere
Cube cube
Cuboid or Rectangular Prism rectangular prism
Cone cone
Cylinder cylinder

The color, overall size, and orientation, called the non-defining attributes of a two-dimensional or three-dimensional shape, do not define or affect the shape in any way. These attributes can change without any effect on the shape. 

On the other hand, defining attributes such as the number of sides (parallel or non-parallel, straight or curved), vertices, edges and faces of a shape, whether the shape is open or closed, and the angle measures determine the shape of a two-dimensional or three-dimensional object. Any change in these defining attributes will change the shape.

  Fun Facts
  • All three-dimensional shapes are made up of two-dimensional shapes.

let's sing Let's sing!

A wizard’s cape. 
A curtain’s drape.
A sour little grape. 
An electrician’s tape.
And, a naughty baby ape. 
What’s common in ‘em?
They all have a shape. 

let's do it Let's do it!

Instead of handing out math shape-coloring worksheets to your preschoolers and kids, play the game “show me” with them. You can ask them to show you everyday objects that have the two-dimensional or three-dimensional shape you name. Or, you can also show them different objects and ask them to identify the two-dimensional or three-dimensional shape they see in them. 
You can also give your kids playdough and matchsticks to create two-dimensional or three-dimensional shapes. Model it for them.

related math vocabulary Related math vocabulary

Open Shape, Close Shape

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the difference between a triangle and a square?

    A triangle is a 3-sided closed shape and a square is a 4 equally-sided closed shape.

  • What is common between a circle and a square?

    One similarity between circles and squares is that both are 2D or flat shapes.

  • Why is it important to learn about shapes?

    Shapes are found everywhere and are not just confined to math. In a world where we use circular stop signs and rectangular flags, shape recognition helps kids observe and identify patterns. They also help in developing various other skills such as visual and spatial reasoning skills, motor skills, etc.

  • Can a geometric shape have a combination of both straight and curved sides?

    Yes, a shape can have both straight and curved sides. For example, a semicircle has a curved surface.

Practice Problems on Shapes

Pick the correct answer
1.   Which of these 2-dimensional shapes has 4 sides?
2.   Which of these 3-dimensional shapes has no vertices?
3.   How many corners does a trapezoid have?
4.   How many edges does a cube have?
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