Reading Together

Storybook Guide Based on Stuart J. Murphy’s “Circus Shapes”

Explore math while reading and talking about this storybook.

Topic:

Activity Summary

Use this storybook guide with the book “Circus Shapes.” Many public libraries have this book.

Reading guide

About the Story

A family encounters different shapes when they spend a day at the circus in “Circus Shapes.” Elephants march around in a circle, horses make a triangle, monkeys make a square, and bears make a rectangle. Children can look for these shapes and more throughout the beautiful illustrations.

A monkey wearing clothes and a hat is next to a blue, red, yellow and green box. Illustration from “Circus Shapes.”

Words to Learn

SHAPE WORDS
circle, triangle, square, rectangle, side, corner, round

OTHER WORDS
ringmaster, stilts, tame, acrobat, twirling, aglow

About the Math

As the circus animals make different shapes, your child can learn:

  • The names and properties of the shapes. For example, circles are round.
  • How to compare different shapes. For example, while a square has four sides, a triangle has only three sides.
  • If you make a shape bigger or smaller or turn it around, it’s still the same shape. For example, a square turned on its corner is still a square.
A lively circus with animals and shapes all around. Illustration from “Circus Shapes.”

Math Talk During Reading

  • EXPLORE THE NAMES AND PROPERTIES OF SHAPES
    What is this shape called? How many sides does it have?
  • NOTICE HOW SHAPES COME IN DIFFERENT COLORS, SIZES, AND ORIENTATIONS
    This shape is turned on its side. Is it still a triangle? How do you know?
  • TALK ABOUT HOW THE SHAPES ARE SIMILAR AND DIFFERENT
    How is the rectangle different from the square? How are they the same?
  • CONNECT THE STORY TO YOUR CHILD’S LIFE
    Have you ever been to the circus? What other acts do we see at the circus?

Try to come up with some of your own questions and comments, too!

Activity After Reading

  • LOOK FOR SHAPES ALL AROUND YOU
    Let’s look around the room. What shapes do you see?