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What Are The 2D Shapes Kids Need To Learn? Definitions, Examples And List Of 2D Shape Names And Properties For Primary School

Children start learning about 2D shapes from as early as year 1 in primary school, so here are the two-dimensional shapes they’ll need to have mastered before the end of year 6. Don’t worry, most of the shapes such as squares and triangles should be fairly familiar to you, but some of the terminology around their properties may not.

Let’s kick off with some definitions!

What is a 2D shape?

A 2D shape is a shape with two dimensions, such as width and height. An example of a 2D shape is a rectangle or a circle. 2D shapes are flat and cannot be physically held, because it has no depth; it is completely flat. The thin plastic shapes that are sometimes used to represent 2D shapes are actually 3D because they do have depth to them – even if it’s very small.

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Which 2D shapes will my child learn about?

In primary school, your child will learn about the following polygons, regular and irregular shapes.

A polygon is a 2D shape with straight sides.

A regular shape has all sides the same length and all interior angles the same size.

An irregular shape has different length sides and/or interior angles.

What are the properties of 2D shapes?

The properties of 2D shapes refer to their sides and angles. When we move on to 3D shapes we talk about faces, edges and vertices.

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Learning 2D shapes through Third Space Learning’s online interventions

List of 2D shapes and their properties

These are the names of the 2D shapes your child will need to know. The printable table below provides all the key information they need for primary school.

  • Circle
  • Semi-circle

Triangles

  • Equilateral Triangle
  • Right-angled Triangle
  • Scalene Triangle
  • Isosceles Triangle

Quadrilaterals (4-sided shapes)

  • Square
  • Kite
  • Rectangle
  • Rhombus
  • Trapezium
  • Parallelogram

Regular polygons

  • Pentagon
  • Hexagon
  • Heptagon or Septagon
  • Octagon
  • Nonagon
  • Decagon
2D shapes

When will my child learn about 2D shapes in primary school?

Geometry is taught in every year group in KS1 and KS2. Here’s what the National Curriculum expects to be taught about 2D shapes, separated by year:

Year 1 pupils should be able to:

  • Recognise and name common 2-D and 3-D shapes, including: 2-D shapes [for example, rectangles (including squares), circles and triangles]; 3-D shapes [for example, cuboids (including cubes), pyramids and spheres].
  • Non-statutory guidance: Pupils handle common 2-D and 3-D shapes, naming these and related everyday objects fluently. They recognise these shapes in different orientations and sizes, and know that rectangles, triangles, cuboids and pyramids are not always similar to each other.

Year 2 pupils should be able to:

  • Identify and describe the properties of 2-D shapes, including the number of sides and line symmetry in a vertical line.
  • Identify and describe the properties of 3-D shapes, including the number of edges, vertices and faces.
  • Identify 2-D shapes on the surface of 3-D shapes, [for example, a circle on a cylinder and a triangle on a pyramid]
  • Compare and sort common 2-D and 3-D shapes and everyday objects.
  • Non-statutory guidance: Pupils handle and name a wide variety of common 2-D and 3-D shapes, including quadrilaterals and polygons, and cuboids, prisms and cones, and identify the properties of each shape (for example, number of sides, number of faces). Pupils identify, compare and sort shapes on the basis of their properties and use vocabulary precisely, such as sides, edges, vertices and faces.

Year 3 pupils should be able to:

  • Draw 2-D shapes and make 3-D shapes using modelling materials and recognise 3-D shapes in different orientations and describe them.
  • Non-statutory guidance: Pupils’ knowledge of the properties of shapes is extended at this stage to symmetrical and non-symmetrical polygons and polyhedra. Pupils extend their use of the properties of shapes. They should be able to describe the properties of 2-D and 3-D shapes using accurate language, including lengths of lines and acute and obtuse for angles greater or lesser than a right angle.

Year 4 pupils should be able to:

  • Identify lines of symmetry in 2-D shapes presented in different orientations.
  • Non-statutory guidance: Pupils continue to classify shapes using geometrical properties, extending to classifying different triangles (for example, isosceles, equilateral, scalene) and quadrilaterals (for example, parallelogram, rhombus, trapezium).

Year 5 pupils should be able to:

  • Identify 3-D shapes, including cubes and other cuboids, from 2-D representations and distinguish between regular and irregular polygons based on reasoning about equal sides and angles.

Year 6 pupils should be able to:

  • Draw 2-D shapes using given dimensions and angles and recognise, describe and build simple 3-D shapes, including making nets.

How do 2D shapes relate to other areas of maths?

When working with fractions, children will often have to shade a fraction of a shape. They will have to relate their understanding of perimeter and area to 2D shapes, and they may be required to reflect or translate 2D shapes on a coordinate grid.

Wondering about how to explain other key maths vocabulary to your children? Check out our Primary Maths Dictionary, or try these other terms related to 2D shapes:

2D shapes questions

1. In a quadrilateral, three angles measure 110, 70 and 20 degrees. How many degrees in the missing angle?

(Answer: 160)

2. Which shape has 2 pairs of parallel sides, 2 acute and 2 obtuse angles and no lines of symmetry?

(Answer: parallelogram)

3. Which shape is the odd one out? Why?

4 coloured shapes

(Answer: The scalene triangle is the odd one out as it is the only shape NOT to have a right angle in it.)

2D shapes worksheets

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Sophie Bartlett
Sophie Bartlett
Year 6 Teacher
Sophie is a grammar pedant, author and editor for Third Space as well as teaching in a small school in England.
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Downloadable resource

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