Shape Up!

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In this activity (25th on the page) about learning and memory, learners explore a training method that animal trainers employ called "shaping." Working in pairs, learners will attempt to "shape" each other to complete a task through rewarding and reinforcing positive behavior. Learners will earn "treats" for each correct behavior. Use this activity to teach learners how behaviors can be learned and trained and/or how trainers use non-verbal techniques to work with animals.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Collection of "treats" (candies, pennies, or buttons)


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
    • Human Body
      • The Brain and Nervous System
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Food and Cooking
  • Physical Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • hear
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Chudler, Ph.D., Eric H.


  • All rights reserved, Eric H. Chudler, 2010