The Importance of Shapes & Patterns During Toddler Play

Shapes shape the world. They are everywhere, from rectangular doors to circular wheels, octagonal road signs and triangular roofs. According to child development experts, learning shapes helps toddlers and pre-schoolers to identify and organise all kinds of visual information.

Along with colours, shapes are one of the first things children are taught, because shape recognition helps young learners with the basic skills of reading, maths and science. For example, a first step in learning numbers and letters, as well as other signs and symbols, is to recognise their shape.



There are other big reasons to start learning shapes early:

Categorisation & Same or Different

Basic shapes are very different, which makes them great for recognising distinctive traits objects can have. As a basic observation exercise, ask your children, “Are these two objects the same or different?” And, “What makes a circle different from a square?”

Finding a common characteristic in different items, is an important skill.

Math & Science Skills

Shape sorting and fitting pieces of puzzles together are key elements to helping children with future math and science problem-solving skills. Understanding shapes involves a lot of counting which is great number practice for toddlers. How many sides to a shape?

Geometry includes the study of shapes, and having a basic knowledge of them from a young age, will make math class easier later on.

Letter Recognition

One of the main reasons to work on shapes from an early age, is because shapes help with letter recognition. Letters are very similar to shapes, for example, the letter O is just a circle, and the letter V is a triangle without one side. Drawing shapes starts to build literacy skills, helping children with reading and writing later in life.



Here are some fun ideas to encourage shape awareness through play:

  • Cut out shapes from paper or cardboard and let your children go on a hunt around the house and neighbourhood to find shapes that match.
  • Collect a number of different objects and let your toddler sort them into piles of similar shapes.
  • Make your own shape sorter by using blocks and other key shapes to trace onto a shoebox or other box, then cut the shapes out and let your children sort!
  • Colouring books are also a wonderful way to teach shapes. Talk about the shapes on the page just as you would about the colours they’re using.
  • Use play dough as a sensory shape game. Draw some shapes onto paper or cardboard which you can laminate or place in a plastic sleeve, and let your children fill each shape in with play dough.
  • For older children, from 7+ years, our brand new Stumped Wooden Toy, “Four-In-A-Row p.a.t.t.e.r.n.s”, is designed to challenge your kids to create 6 different pictures and shapes from the dark and light blocks.



Remember, play is a powerful tool and acts as an important building block for bigger concepts. When teaching children to practice shapes, start with circles, triangles and squares, then move on to pentagons, hexagons, octagons and more. Don’t forget stars, crescents, hearts, etc. There is so much depth to this one simple subject and with this knowledge, children will have an advantage in many areas of learning. Shapes and patterns are fundamental topics that children need to explore and which can provide them with enjoyable educational challenges.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published