Written by Smita Srivastava
We have shapes all around us. It is impossible to carry out our daily routine without involving shapes in some form or other. Right from the books or vessels we use to the trolley we use at a store, there are shapes everywhere. ‘Shapes’ is an important concept to teach toddlers. When you teach shapes using shape activities, it will ensure that toddlers have fun along with the learning.
Coming up with activities to just teach about squares or circles may seem tedious for parents. We hear you! When you actively involve your toddler in activities and games, you are engaging their minds completely. They will understand it easily and remember it well too. Now, don’t worry, we’ve got you. Here is a list of the top 10 shape activities for toddlers to teach shapes.
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Schools teach about shapes right from kindergarten. Learning shapes will not only lay the foundation for your toddler’s school lessons but will also help them process all the visual information, in a more organized manner and develop spatial awareness.
Even the letters of the alphabet and numbers are written using different shapes. Unless they learn shapes, they can’t understand and follow the instructions their teachers will give them for writing, art, craft, etc.
Everyone refers to shapes in their communication. So, knowing about shapes is essential for clear communication. As your toddler grows and lessons in school increase, shapes will help your toddler understand math, science, and basic reading. According to scientific research, unless toddlers understand shapes, they can’t comprehend geometry, drawing houses, or figural concepts as they grow. Even reading stories, or learning about animals may not make much sense to them unless they understand shapes.
You can sit your toddler down and list out the names of various shapes and show them what the shape looks like and make them memorize the names. However, this is not going to help them retain the information for long or use it in their regular life.
Teaching and learning should always be fun, at least at the toddler stage. At this stage, your little one’s brain is still developing and may not grasp all the details you tell them. They need time and repetition to understand some concepts.
When you teach your toddler shapes, through activities and games, you are adding fun and excitement to the learning process. Repeating actions and words will help your toddler understand more about shapes and remember details about them, without mixing it up with other shapes.
Learning through games and activities is an effective mode of learning, especially for concepts like shapes and colors. Shape Activities to teach shapes for toddlers need not be elaborate or expensive. We have rounded up a list of top 10 Shape activities and games that are both easy to do and effective for toddlers. You can improvise and increase the level of difficulty as your toddler’s understanding improves.
You have many chemical-free/baby-safe clay options in the market today. Pick a box with at least 4 or 6 colors. You need a golf ball size amount of clay in each color as the lesser quantity will be too small for your toddler to play with.
Show your toddler how you can pinch, press and shape the clay in different ways. You don’t need any tools or cutters at this stage. Let your toddler try making different shapes with each color. They can learn about the number of sides, the difference in sizes, etc. through this activity.
Toddlers are just developing the grip and strength of their fingers. Letting them play with clay can be very beneficial in developing these parts. It will also improve their creativity and focus, encouraging them to make new things with their tiny little fingers.
What’s more fun than eating what you make? Toddlers love to explore and might still put everything into their mouths. When you help them make cookies in different shapes, they tend to remember the shape names and a few other details, easily.
You can use cookie dough and teach your toddler to make cookies in different shapes. Pop them into the oven and watch your toddler impatiently wait for the cookies to be done.
This activity helps them learn about shapes, and also a little about mixing and baking. Using cookie cutters to cut the shapes will improve their fine motor skills and increase the strength of their fingers.
Take different colored papers and draw the basic shapes (square, rectangle, circle, and oval) on them. Help your toddler hold the scissors and cut out the shape. A toddler below the age of 3 is still too young to use scissors. You can try giving them baby-safe scissors and teach them to cut shapes.
Cutting with scissors can improve their dexterity. It gives them more work for their fingers, where they need to bend them more. It also improves concentration and teaches them cutting skills. Learning to cut on the dotted line is an important skill for toddlers.
Tracing and coloring is a fun activity that teaches your toddler about color and shapes, and also improves their writing skills.
You can buy them tracing books from the store or draw shapes with dotted lines, yourself. Let your toddler use a thick or broad pencil or a crayon to trace the shape. At this age, their fingers are still not strong enough to properly grip a thin pencil. Thicker pencils or crayons will be comfortable for those tiny hands.
This activity will help lay the foundation for writing and drawing skills. Toddlers love colors and when an activity ends with coloring the picture, it is bound to interest them. As they get older, you can guide them to color within the lines.
On a sheet of paper draw two columns. Draw the shapes in order in the first column. Draw the same set of shapes but in a different order, in the second column. Now, ask your toddler to draw lines from column A to column B to match the shapes.
Learning to identify or match similar-looking pictures is an important milestone in a toddler’s development. As their cognitive abilities increase, their brain starts connecting the visuals received. Matching activities will help your toddler learn to search and identify shapes. It improves their concentration and drawing the lines helps improve writing skills.
[Read : Shape Sorting Toys For Babies]
Puzzles are a great way to challenge your toddler’s developing brain. Shape puzzles are not easy for toddlers as the pieces can be quite confusing. If the shapes are in multi colors, it can be more challenging.
You can find many wooden shape puzzles in the market. Choose one depending on your toddler’s age and skill level.
This activity helps improve your toddler’s problem-solving ability, focus more, and try various combinations before arriving at the right one. Trying multiple times rather than giving up is an important attitude for personal growth and development. Through such activities, you can indirectly help your toddler cultivate such an attitude.
Draw shapes and outlines on sheets of paper. Give your toddler medium-sized to small-sized stickers according to their age or grip development. Next, you can ask your toddler to stick the stickers on the outlines without leaving many gaps. They will love to make the picture look perfectly outlined in bright colors too.
This activity will help your toddler learn shapes, improve their focus as they have to stick on the lines, and also improve their fingers’ dexterity.
You will need a few ice cream sticks, or even small sticks from their toys will do. Draw various shapes on paper and ask your toddler to recreate the shapes using the sticks. You can start by drawing large-sized shapes on a sheet of paper and ask them to place the sticks on the lines. As they get better, reduce the size of your drawings and let your toddler recreate the shapes on a plain surface.
Activities like this help improve your toddler’s focus and perception. Recreating a shape requires understanding and patience, both of which will improve through this activity.
Toddlers become aware of emotions around the time they are 3 years old. They start differentiating between happy, sad, and angry faces. Using this to teach them shapes can be very fruitful.
Draw a few shapes on a sheet of paper. Ask your toddler to draw different faces for each. Now, ask them to explain what emotion or face each of the shapes have.
Through this activity, your toddler will learn to identify and name the shape themselves. They will also form connections between the emotions and the shapes, which makes it easy to recollect in the future. For example – angry oval, happy circle, sad square, and so on.
A little hunt to find the required shapes can help your toddler effectively learn shapes in a short time span. When you challenge a toddler to do something, they will do so very excitedly – which is the perfect mood to learn.
Once your toddler is familiar with the shapes and their names, you can ask them to find shapes around them. Look around you, and mention an easy-to-find shape. Ask your toddler to list out everything they can see in that shape. You can also ask your toddler to find a few items of the mentioned shape.
In this game, your toddler is listening to the shape name you are saying, connecting the name to the shape, and looking around for items that fit that shape. This enhances their listening, identifying, and searching skills. It also helps reduce confusion between shapes.
Learning about shapes is an important milestone for toddlers. It helps them understand and comprehend the world around them better. It is an important foundation for all the lessons later as they go through school. When you teach such an important topic through activities and games, it will last in their minds for a long time.
[Read : Spatial Awareness in Toddlers]
Spatial reasoning helps us interpret objects and images in a three-dimensional or 3D format. By playing games involving shapes, toddlers will get a better understanding of the images they see and apply them in their lessons and games.
In most cases, a toddler is ready to learn about and comprehend shapes when they are about 2 years old. By the time they turn 3, most of them can identify basic shapes like circles, rectangles, ovals, and triangles. They may still need time to differentiate between a square and a rectangle.
With a background in Mass media and journalism, Smita comes with rich and vast experience in content creation, curation, and editing. As a mom of a baby girl, she is an excellent candidate for writing and editing parenting and pregnancy content. The content she writes and edits is influenced by her own journey through pregnancy and motherhood. When not writing- She can be found curled up with a book. Or, bingeing on Netflix.Read more.
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