shape sorter cognitive development

How To Play With A Shape Sorter

How To Play With A Shape Sorter

In any play store, a shape sorter is a classic toy that will be found on every shelf. It’s a classic for a reason! A shape sorter works with your child to develop their cognitive and fine motor skills all through the sorting of shapes! However, you may have seen a shape sorter before, but do you actually understand their purpose and how to play with one? Don’t worry, we are here to help! Continue reading to learn how to play with a shape sorter! 

What is a shape sorter?

In case you’re unsure of what a shape sorter is, look no further! 

A shape sorter tends to be a box with various shaped holes on each side. Each box will come with physical pieces that match the shape outline on the box. Your child is then expected to match the piece with the shape outline and push the piece through the hole! 

Depending on the shaper sorter you have, it is common for the shape pieces to vary in color! This is meant to help your child see differences in the shapes and to use their knowledge of colors to assist them in learning shapes! 

Is a shape sorter cause and effect?

One benefit of playing with a shape sorter is your child begins to understand the concept of cause and effect! 

Simply put, understanding cause and effect means you understand that one action causes another to occur!

When your child plays with their shape sorter, they will realize there are two possible outcomes!

If your child tries to shove the incorrect shape through one of the holes, they will find it impossible to push through. They will see that the cause, aka the incorrect shape, is why the effect, not successfully going through the hole, occurs! 

When your child successfully pushes a shape through the correct hole, they will understand that if you match a shape to another of its same shape, you will be successful in fitting the object through! 

What are the benefits of shape sorters?

In addition to understanding cause and effect, shape sorters are great for your child’s cognitive development! 

When taking the shape piece and placing it through the hole of the box, your child works on their hand eye coordination, as they must reason and understand how to take the piece and where to put it! 

Problem solving is a huge skill worked on within this activity. Your child will work to figure out which shapes match and which ones don’t. If your child puts a square in a circle hole, they will find themselves unsuccessful and most likely a little frustrated!  They will have to try again with a new piece, hopefully realizing that the edges on the piece made it impossible to fit in a round circle hole! 

When your child expresses frustration, use this moment as a way to also start a conversation about feelings, whether they’re good or bad! Your child is just starting to understand different feelings. You can help them by talking through their emotions! When they’re happy about their success in pushing a shape through the hole, celebrate that! When they’re angry, help them understand and process their anger! 

Not only this, but your child’s knowledge of shapes and colors adds to their existing vocabulary, helping them to process language and work on their speech skills! 

shape sorting for toddlers

What age do babies play with shape sorters?

As early as eight months, your child begins to understand and enjoy play! By roughly 15 months, your child starts to develop important skills such as hand-eye coordination and problem-solving thinking! 

With this in mind, we recommend playing with a shape sorter once your child is around 15 to 18 months! Shape sorters utilize the skills your child is learning at this point, and this is a prime time for shape sorters to be enjoyed! 

Many experts suggest learning shapes around 2! So, as a shape sorter heavily uses the learning of shapes in its play, we cannot recommend enough for your child to have this toy in their home! 

Need a shape sorter? Check out our play store where we sell high quality and effective toys meant for your child and their development! 

How do I teach my toddler to sort shapes?

When teaching your child to sort shapes, start by talking about the similarities and differences your child can see. Point out how some shapes have sharp edges while others are smooth. 

If you’re working on counting, have your child count the number of corners! This will help your child understand different numbers and how different numbers in shapes mean there are differences overall between the shapes! 

Once you’ve noted the similarities and differences, have your child sort based on these! Prompt them by saying, “Can you put all of the shapes with corners on one side and all the curved shapes on the other?”. 

You can also do a more subjective form of sorting! Ask your child to sort based on their favorite shapes! Then, ask them why they like these shapes and why they don’t like the others! Depending on your child’s verbal abilities, this can stir a conversation that helps you understand your child more. 

As mentioned, colors are often a part of the design of a shape sorter! Use their knowledge of colors to help them understand the differences between shapes! For example, feel free to say, “What shape is red?” or “Is the square shape blue or yellow?”. Why work on only colors or shapes when you can work on both at the same time?

Having this conversation can help your child become more familiar with these shapes and making it personal to them will help them remember these shapes long term. 

At any point, if your child seems to struggle with sorting, act as an example and show them how to sort. You don’t need to sort everything, but by guiding them initially you can help provide a basic understanding they will lean on as they learn! Around 18 months your child is learning to mimic! By showing your child the proper way of playing with a shape sorter, they will use their developing skills and mimic you in return! 

In conclusion, we hope you are excited to try out a shape sorter or to use your current shape sorter with this new knowledge! Shape sorters are a great tool that will never go out of style! Kids will always need to learn about shapes and sorting is a skill that will come in handy as both a child and as an adult. Consider all the other benefits a bonus! 

Let us know if you have used a shape sorter in the past or if you plan to use one after reading our blog! We hope you feel confident in knowing how to play with a shape sorter! Happy playing! 

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