Stop Signs are Octagons


  • To identify octagons
  • To associate the octagon shape with stop signs that children see in everyday life
  • To review the concept of sides as a characteristic of many shapes
  • To count to 8
  • To connect mathematics and health/safety

Large octagon with STOP printed on it, a small octagon for each child to hold and feel,dot-to-dot octagons for children to connect, shapes for children to trace (optional)
Prepare octagons ahead of time.

Literature Suggestion
Read The Adventures of Taxi Dog by Debra and Sal Barracca. Help children notice that the city could use some stop signs.

stop sign

  • Show children the large octagon stop sign and ask them to tell what they know about stop signs. (Cars stop for the safety of car passengers and pedestrians.)
  • Give each child a small octagon and have them see, touch, and say octagon.
  • With children, touch and count the 8 sides. Teach children the following rhyme:
         Octagons have 8 sides, I said 8!
         Octagons are the stop sign shape
         They help to keep us safe!


Play "Octagon Dot-to-Dot."
  • Put groups of 8 dots on the board for children to connect in order to complete octagons.
  • Show children how to count the sides while they connect the dots.
  • Give each child a turn to complete a shape in order to feel and count the 8 sides.
Provide children with "Stop for Safety" dot-to-dot papers. Have them connect the dots. You may wish to set up a Shape Tracing Center, where children can trace around shapes to make shape designs with the shapes that they are learning. At science time, show children pictures of an octopus and count the 8 tentacles.

Observation Assessment

  • Proficient - Child can easily identify an octagon as an octagon or as the stop sign shape, and can also count and tell that it has 8 sides.
  • In Process - Child can identify an octagon as the stop-sign shape, but has difficulty counting the 8 sides.
  • Not Yet Ready - Child does not yet identify an octagon as a stop sign shape and cannot count the 8 sides.

Excerpted from School Readiness Activity Cards. The Preschool Activity Cards provide engaging and purposeful experiences that develop language, literacy, and math skills for preschool children.

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