Teaching Toddlers Shapes

The best way to ‘teach’ toddlers is to provide stimulating activities. When I worked at the nursery, we would focus on one topic each week and provide various activities that the children would enjoy and learn from.


I would stick to the basics, circle, square and triangle.

Art & Craft

A Shape Collage – Pre-cut shapes from coloured paper, let your toddler stick them down onto a piece of card.

A Shape Mobile – Cut large shapes from thick card, punch a hole and thread with string.

Traffic Light Picture – A traffic light picture (black card, three circles painted in red, yellow and green) combines shape and colour.


Balls – Play catch or make your own ball pool.

Building Blocks – Build towers and interesting shapes.

Shape Sorter Toys – Shape sorter toys include the light and sound variety as well as the wooden block style. We have both and they are equally good.


Make your own cards, cut 12 cards, make 4 for each shape and play snap.


My First Jumbo Book of Shapes
looks like a good pick, I haven’t read it but it does have a good write up and it is age appropriate, it also says that it is ‘wonderfully interactive’ and young children *love* to get involved.

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17 Responses to Teaching Toddlers Shapes

  1. Mother at Large says:

    Now I feel really bad. Daughter and I hardly ever cut out shapes or do similar activities. I do play with her a lot though. Maybe I’ll try and do some of these games soon. I’m thinking of buying non-toxic paints and doing potato shapes.

  2. Little Mummy says:

    Ack. It wasn’t meant to make anyone feel bad… Your daughter is only 14 months old, no? Erin is 16 months and I haven’t done these activities with her yet, the age group we did these activities with were between 18 months and three years, sure, Erin has the shape sorter toys but she’s way too young for snap yet.

    LOVE the potato idea, my mum and nan used to make them for us! We have early learning centre paint which is ideal and VERY washable… if you catch my drift!

  3. Mel says:

    Another activity that my toddler loves with shapes is to tape down using masking tape a square shape or a triangle. Mine get set up in the hallway. They have to be pretty big shapes and he likes to walk along them and sit inside them…….then try to peel the tape up with his chubby fingers……

    Thanks for the mention before and love the most popular articles section.

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  5. HowToMe says:

    Great post!! I used a lot of these links when raising my toddlers: http://www.howtome.com/?page_id=37 Also the visualizer on the windows media player is really fun for them to watch while listening to the music of your choice. Aren’t kids fun to teach?! I like your suggestions.

  6. Super Saver says:

    Thanks for the tips. These a great ideas for playing with our daughter in an education way.

    Here via CFL.

  7. Grace says:

    Thanks for sharing these great tips! off to make some for my kid too!
    Visiting from COFL!

  8. kailani says:

    I love anything educational for my daughter. Shapes and colors are a big deal for us right now!

    Thank you for joining us at the Carnival of Family Life!

  9. Christine says:

    Those are some great tips. I like the ideas of a shape mobile, and the traffic light. My 4yo is a back seat driver, and I’m teaching her about the colors of a traffic light.

    Here via the Carnival of Family Life.

  10. kris says:

    I’m a women not yet a Mom, he..he.., i do really love kid, and now I’m a playgroup teacher. sometimes, i find some difficulties to recognize some shapes and colour to my students but now i find littlemummy.com, and i can get some tips how to recognize all things to my beloved student.
    thank you so much

  11. kristi says:

    I have 18 month old boy girl twins. They seem to each learn in different ways. One is more tactile and the other more visual. I tried cutting circles from colored paper. They ripped the paper. Any ideas on teaching circles.

  12. Little Mummy says:

    Hi Kristi, as I said further up it’s less about teaching and more about learning through play. Shape sorter toys are fun and Erin is starting to do it more herself now, she’s roughly the same age.

    As for an art project, perhaps cut a large circle from a cardboard box, you could decorate with paint and glitter and then put it on the wall. The cardboard won’t rip, it’s tactile to decorate and visual to see on the wall.

    Does anyonelse have any suggestions?

  13. HowToMe says:

    For circles, try medium sized plastic lids – like spreadable butter, frosting, etc.. lids. They come in fun colors and are good for teething 🙂 They’d make a fine mobile.

    Also old cds (not for baby to play with because when they shatter they really shatter) would make a beautiful mobile.

    Rice cakes are pretty easy for baby to eat and are circles. By the time the child finishes gumming and slightly chewing it, it is soft enough to be easily consumed. Cheerios are circles. If your kids are eating bread, cheese, etc.. you could cut them into circles.

    With the rest of the Tupperware containers, freeze some water (circles) and let the kids play with them outside or in their kiddy pools.

    Bubbles are circles 🙂 Then there are balls, wheels, Frisbees, etc..

    Hope these ideas help. Kristi, it sounds like your (and Little Mummy’s) children are going to learn and love learning from you. Wishing you every success!

  14. Chris says:

    I am very excited about the Circle ideas for toddlers. I am looking for ideas for squares and triangles etc. I have a small group I work with in my home and my son is 2. we have been working on shapes all month. Another idea for Circles is make a paper plate tambourine they loved to decorate the plates and I attached them together and they still play with them as a fun instrument. I have had a really hard time this week with squares..can anyone help? More on the craft ideas and just daily use things.

  15. Shawna says:

    I just wanted to say thank you for the advice on teaching shapes. I have 16 month old twin boys and plan on homeschooling when they are older. Right now I am starting to teach the boys to color and thought it would be great if they could learn a couple shapes while we are practicing holding crayons. These sound like great ideas as our family really enjoys doing arts and crafts, and we will be trying them REALLY SOON!
    Thanks Again,

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