The fun of Volunteering with little children

They say, necessity is the mother of invention. And that is exactly what happened last wednesday.

On wednesday’s I don’t need to do any activity with children. There is another volunteer who comes to take English classes and I just help out in other stuff with the staff.

volunteering with children, art activities for children, learning about shapes and sizes from everyday objects
what we started with

But last week we had a lot of little kids who came to the foundation and they were doing what little kids do best! Creating a lot of noise :). We needed some activity for them. The easiest would have been to give them some colours and colouring pages. I then thought lets take one of the statues (we have so many lying around in the foundation!) which is not so difficult to draw. Keep it in centre and then ask the kids to draw that. As soon as I picked up the statue, Ana said – this one is very easy.. you can break it down into simpler shapes.

And suddenly it clicked. How about we create an activity to teach shapes and sizes using this statue? This activity really unfolded itself with each step.

I thought we can easily create kind of jigsaw puzzle with the shapes and ask kids to put it all together. But then I needed time to cut everything and create sets for each child. What do we do until then? I made the children sit around in a circle with a piece of paper each. And while I was cutting, I started asking them about the different shapes – triangle, circle, square, rectangle, oval. I asked them to draw them on their paper and then started on questions like:


volunteering with children, creating art activities for children, learning shapes and sizes with everyday objects
All this while I was cutting out shapes that when put together will ‘kind of’ re-create the statue we chose
  • How many sides does a triangle have?
  • What is the difference between a square and a rectangle?
  • How many sides does a circle have?
  • Can we divide our face into shapes?
  • What shape can we use for our face?
  • What for our eyes?
  • For our nose?
  • For our mouth?
  • What else does the face have?
  • Yes ears! What shape can we use for them?

Then I asked then to draw a big face on their papers with features using shapes.

I was still not done cutting all shapes. So what else can we do?

  • Okay, give the face a hat now. What shape can we use for the hat? (because our statue had one! Till now I had not shown them the statue. )

Once the cutting and arranging the shapes in sets was done, we gave each child one set and then asked them to assemble the pieces together.

volunteering with children, creating art activities for children, learning shapes and sizes through common objects, volunteering in angola
children assembling the pieces together to create a face.

It was like a race. Who can assemble everything together first!

After that we showed the statue to the kids. They just made this 🙂 I asked them if we are missing something? And they promptly pointed out the neck and the board behind the face (they said it’s the hair).

So which shape do we use for the neck and hair?

Square! came the response. A big one for hair and a small one for neck.

With two more squares for each, we had a complete statue for each. Afterwards they glued it all together and took it home.

volunteering with children, creating art activities for children, learning shapes and sizes through common objects, volunteering in angola
“This is what we just made!” Kids comparing their work with the original.. 🙂


Normally on the days when I am volunteering with children, I go all ready with the activity and , here, also with some basic portuguese words that I will be needing with the children during that activity. But what excited me was how we came up to this activity and how it really unfolded itself at each step. It wasn’t a great thing. This activity. But that day was the first day when I felt the most comfortable during my entire time volunteering with children here in Luanda. And that’s why I want to share that excitement with everyone! 🙂

Working with little children is fun and a challenge at the same time. One needs to weave together learning and playing. I hope if you are working with little kids, you can create a similar fun activity to teach shapes and sizes to children.

I love volunteering!

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