Making It Fit- Helping Your Child Figure Out a Shape Sorter. ~ by Shine SLPs Rachel and Sarah

A popular toy for toddlers is a shape sorter! It teaches cause and effect, problem solving, using fine motor skills and turn taking. As therapists, when we use a shape sorter with our kiddos we use it as an activity for social interaction and making connections. If the kiddo isn’t interested or is wanting the adult to put the pieces in, we can miss the chance to connect. We want to celebrate that piece dropping in the right spot or making fun noises as the piece drops in the bucket. Let’s help them make that piece fit:

  1. Give them one shape at a time. The circle is the easiest shape for kids to put into the hole, and the square is usually the next one to introduce. Sometimes, giving the child repeated success with one shape will motivate them to continue to try once you add in another shape.
  2. Place the toy so that the shape will drop in as close to the child as possible. You can also move the shape sorter so that it lines up better with how the child is holding the shape. It’s better to move the shape sorter and let the child put the shape in, rather than trying to guide their hand.
  3. If they continue to try to force the piece into the wrong hole, use your hand(s) to cover up all holes except the correct one. Eliminating the other holes simplifies this activity.
  4. Make it fun! Make sounds as the piece drops in such as “wee” and then lots of praise when they do it. Celebrate the win!
  5. If you see them becoming frustrated, help by guiding their hand.
  6. DON’T focus on them naming the shapes at this age — just understanding the cause and effect. Academics is not the focus for kids under age 3!

Remember: the most important thing is connecting with your child and enjoying your time together. Have fun playing!


An 8-week program for children age 3-6 with sensory processing differences

Children with sensory processing differences have difficulty with regulation, which sometimes makes it difficult for them to interact with the world around them. Our Sensory Explorers group targets regulation in order to build engagement! This group is led by pediatric occupational therapists Mackenzie Baldock (2:30 group) OR Meghan Day (8:30 group) and developmental therapist/PLAY Project Consultant Brenna Thompson, all of whom specialize in using developmentally appropriate strategies to support children so they can learn new skills. Group meets once/week for 60 minutes.

Wondering if this class is appropriate for your child? Some characteristics of kids who benefit: easily frustrated with play, repetitive play, difficulty sitting/keeping still to engage in play, refuses to allow others to engage in play, unable to be messy, overly busy, quickly overwhelmed in a busy environment, picky eater, difficulty tolerating grooming/dressing/diapering routines, struggles with transitions/following a group plan/routine. 

Goals of the group include:

  • Child participating in a variety of sensory play activities
  • Engaging socially with others in the group
  • Providing a non threatening environment where children can experience new sensations with the support of a pediatric Occupational Therapist and PLAY Project consultant
  • Providing personalized resources to caregivers, so they better understand the sensory system and learn strategies to assist their child with regulation outside of group
  • Opportunity to meet with other local families

GROUP MEETS for 8 weeks:  Caregivers must stay on the premises to support their child and learn helpful strategies. Children will separate from caregivers for the session; caregivers can socialize in the lobby (we will also provide a few toys for siblings to play). Caregiver education is a key component of this program. 


OPTIONAL Summary Report available at close of session. This 2 page report will summarize your child’s participation in the class and provide helpful sensory strategies to increase their participation in activities. This report could be given to teachers in classrooms & daycares or utilized to help educate other caregivers about ways to help your child participate. This option includes a 30 minute Zoom meeting with Brenna and MacKenzie/Brenna and Meghan to review the report and discuss your child’s progress in Sensory Explorers. COST: $100 due at sign up