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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- If you see them becoming frustrated, help by guiding their hand.
- 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!