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The Good Old Shape Sorter

Out of the myriads of toys meant for babies and toddlers, nothing quite matches up to the benefits a little one gets out of playing with a shape-sorter. This versatile, often colorful toy has been around for ages and has helped babies and toddlers master remarkable motor skills and problem-solving skills too.

Smart parents have always known that when it comes to toys, less is more. While lots of toys may be an impressive sight, they won’t necessarily be beneficial for your little one’s growth and development. A small, carefully selected collection of toys is the best way to go, for that will give your child a chance to really discover each toy and how it works, etc, and in doing so, learn a thing or two in the process. Toys you buy for your little one should be able to introduce different skills and help in the child’s development and fulfill an educational role for the child while keeping the child appropriately entertained. A shape-sorter is one such toy.

Shape sorters have entertained and challenged children for centuries and this classic toy is a must have for your child. The basic versions consist of wooden or plastic cubes or balls with different shaped cutouts, along with three-dimensional shaped objects. These objects fit into correspondingly shaped cut-out holes. Children love the challenge of fitting the shapes through a particular hole or gap. As kids learn to grasp and push the shapes along the holes, they develop and improve fine motor and problem-solving skills in a gratifying manner!

How they help with motor skills

Fine motor skills encompass the coordination of movements of the smaller muscles of the hands and feet. The development and mastery of these skills are essential for day-to-day activities like eating, picking up things between the fingers, writing, and many other small everyday tasks. When children pick up different shapes in their hand, turn them over, and fit them through the corresponding holes, it helps in the development of these skills. Apart from that, when a child attempts to remove the cut-outs from the holes, it helps in the development of their gross motor skills. This in turn helps in the overall development and strengthening of the child’s body.

Lessons in cause and effect

Children are naturally curious little things and in the course of learning and developing, children love it when they do something and get a reaction from it! Inevitably, it teaches and reinforces the concepts of cause and effect too. The understanding of this cognitive concept allows a child to make predictions about what could happen and reflect upon what caused something to happen. For example they will roll a ball on purpose to watch what happens or shake a rattle to hear the sound it makes. While playing with a shape sorter, pushing the shape into the right hole will provide a gratifying sense of accomplishment, especially when they hear the ‘clunk’ sound that comes with it!

Getting to know shapes, colors and more

By playing with a shape sorter, a little child can’t help but learn about the shape names, their properties, and the difference between each shape! Most of these toys are made colorful, hence little ones will also learn about colors and their names. Some shape and size sorters allow children to learn about sizes as well. Basic math skills be taught using this educational toy, such as counting the number of sides on each shape.

Little problem solvers

Challenges or obstacles have always been fascinating to toddlers, and they are known to be persistent little solution seekers! Shape sorters generally help to hone this key skill which is vital for the child’s success, confidence, and independence. When a child tries to fit a triangle into a circular hole and it does not fit, he/she then stops trying to fit it in that hole and moves to another hole. They are made to encourage logical and lateral thinking so that little ones learn to solve problems with reasoning.

Basic shape sorters

Made from plastic or wood, basic shape sorters are ball- or box-shaped containers with circular, square, rectangular, and triangular holes. There are generally chunky in shape and are easier for little fingers to grip. Many of these come in bright colors which are fun for little ones to play with. Some modern ones are even battery-operated with musical sounds and prerecorded voices that praises a child whenever he or she succeeds in pushing in a correct shape!

Advanced shape sorters

From the age of three onward, a child will learn to recognize and match shapes and colors quite well. An advanced shape sorter might be able to introduce additional challanges. A three-year-old can also understand complex shapes, such as pentagon, crescent, or hexagon even. Multi-shape sorting boards are also available nowadays, giving the shape sorter a new edge in its status of a timeless developmental toy.

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