Learning Fun With Shape Sorters

Katie Mitchell
Katie Mitchell
May 03, 2021 3 min read
Chances are, you've given a “shape sorter” toy to a new mother, or as a toddler birthday gift, but have your ever stopped to think why shape sorting toys have such staying power? The answer is found in the assortment of shapes and colors, and in the physical and visual skills that shape sorters offer - all in one toy!

With a simple shape sorting toy, your child can:
  • match a shape to the correct opening on a shape sorting toy and fit each piece in
  • complete the activity again and again
  • sort all the pieces of a certain color together, regardless of shape
  • sort all the blocks of a certain shape together regardless of color

A shape sorting toy allows your child to strengthen their hand-eye coordination, fine motor and problem-solving skills. It can also help them develop their vocabulary knowledge as they begin identify and name shapes and colors.

Here are some tips for making the most of a shape sorting toy!

  • Understanding and recognizing shapes: Hide the shapes around the room and ask your child to find a particular shape.
  • Naming shapes: Encourage your child to name a shape before placing it in the sorter.
  • Taking turns: Encourage your child to take turns in placing shapes into the sorter and talk about whose turn it is (“My turn”, “Your turn”).
  • Making observations: Talk about what happens when your child has chosen a shape to place into the sorter (“It doesn’t fit. Try another place,” when the shape doesn’t match; “Woo hoo. It fits!” when the shape matches).
  • Manners: Give your child the shape sorter cube and place the shapes in front of them. Encourage your child to ask politely for the shape that they want before you provide it to them ("I would like the red circle, please").
  • Problem solving: When your child has difficulty placing a shape in the correct space, encourage them to try again and give them room to figure out what to do if they have trouble placing the shape appropriately into the place (“That’s the right hole! What can you do with the square so it will fit? Now it fits!”).
  • Counting: Encourage counting skills by asking your child to count the blocks.
  • Following instructions: Place the shapes next to the shaper sorting toy. Ask your child to place specific shapes into the toy. Give them an instruction to follow depending on their skill level (One-step instructions such as “Find the circle”; Two-step instructions like, “Find the circle and the square”). Once your child is familiar with both shapes and colors, encourage them to find a certain colored shape (“Show me the blue triangle”). Also, you can take turns to giving each other instructions so that your child starts to learn about taking turns.

Other concepts your shape sorting toy will encourage are:

  • in/out/on: Have your child place a specific shape in relation to the sorter (“Put the rectangle inside the toy”, “Take the rectangle out of the puzzle”).
  • same/different: During play, model the concepts of same and different when comparing two shapes (“I have two squares. They are the same shape”; “You have a circle and a hexagon. They are different shapes”). Or, you can compare colors (“I have a blue hexagon and blue pentagon. They are the same color”; “I have a blue pentagon and yellow triangle. They are different colors”).
  • colors: Develop your child’s understanding of colors. Encourage them to group items that are the same color (red/orange shapes).

How do shape sorting toys help my child learn?

Using the fun ideas above, a shape sorting toy can teach your child to improve their play, social, turn-taking, attention and listening, and understanding and use of language and fine motor skills. These are some of the skills needed for preschool and kindergarten!

Where can I find a great shape sorting toy?

You can buy some of our favorite shape sorting toys right here at Beyond the Blackboard!

Beyond the Blackboard; Learning Fun With Shape Sorters; Take learning to the next level with these activities!

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