Shapes are the first lesson of maths a toddler learns and is a great early learning tool.What better way to make them learn other than play.

“Play is the work of child “Maria Montessori

Here in this post I am going to talk about how I taught my one year old shapes and how the Montessori approach helped in learning it faster and better.

So lets talk about the Montessori three period lesson first which is the basic of starting any learning activity with kids.


This is done by the care giver, showing and naming for e.g. This is a triangle.


This is the step where you start questioning e.g. can you show me the triangle ?


This stage comes when the child starts speaking and this is more of memory where you don’t mention the name e.g. What is this?

Before I start with this three period lesson there is one step that I follow free exploration/play.

Now lets talk about the activities that we did in sink with the three period lesson.

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1.Chunky Shapes Puzzle

By far the most successful way of introducing shapes in our case.This can be introduced when the baby starts sitting upright on his own.A great way to let them explore.

While introducing these puzzles make sure every time they pick a new piece you tell them the name of the piece.

“you picked a circle try matching it ”

2.Big Shapes Buttons

These buttons are perfect for sorting activities.Take few A4 sheets draw the shapes, spread the sheet on the floor and ask the child to put all the circles in the respective sheet.

This activity needs very little assistance from you as all you have to do is prompt them.If the child is putting the wrong shape just tell them “that looks like a square look again is that a square”.

3.Shape Sorter/Stacker

This also introduces another concept of maths which is big and small but that comes later after the chid is two plus lets just see how this activity will help in learning shapes.

The stacking rods are pretty much in the shape itself four for square ,three for triangle and one for circle.Helps the child in identifying the right shape for the right stacker.

4.DIY Foam shapes

Make a DIY sorting shapes activity using the foam.Cut various shapes and let your child use it for various activities.

One of our favourite activity apart from sorting is paying the rhyme “Daddy finger daddy finer where are you ? Here I am Here I am How do you do ? Daddy daddy finger what are you ? I am a circle , A big round circle.And I try telling him about shapes like circle is round, Triangle has three sides etc while singing the rhyme.

5.Matching the Lid of the boxes

I got few boxes in different shapes and N loves matching the lid of the boxes. As they are in different shapes it becomes fun to match them.

6.DIY cardboard shape tree

This activity is from our Christmas activity and N still love doing it.I made a large christmas tree from a cardboard and made it a puzzle.

Check it out


7.Popsicles and shapes matching

Draw few patterns on a sheet using the popsicle sticks and let your toddler make those shapes with popsicles by either placing the popsicles over the sheet or my simply sticking them together.

8.Free Printable resources

Practice is something which makes things perfect and when you wish your child to recall and remember they need to practice but every time coming up with new toys or activities is little difficult and hence internet comes to the rescue . We used various printable from various sites to make our larding shapes task fun. Here are few that we loved the most.

Mr Printables 

Itsy Bitsy Fun

I have Who Has Shapes and Colors


and from my own site

9.White board and marker

The best way to play the recall game.Draw shapes one by one and ask your toddler what have you drawn.

10.Nature and Surroundings

No learning is complete till the time we apply it to our life and same goes for shapes.We have shapes everywhere and once the child learns to recognise the shapes don’t forget to miss the twinkle in their eyes when they call the moon a crescent.

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About Priyadarshani Panda

Hi ! I am Priyadarshani This blog is a small attempt to showcase our little world of learning. I am mom to two lovely kids. I am a full time working mom and love doing craft and DIYs.
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45 thoughts on “HOW TO TEACH SHAPES TO TODDLERS-Ten Activities (12-18 MONTHS)

  1. Wow.. I had tried few of these with my daughter when she was 6 months old and just managing to sit. The amount of time it used to keep her busy was good and best part it improved her skills

  2. I feel so happy to see how keen moms are not to stress their kids and make them learn fun way. Loved all your activities here.

  3. As usual, this post is also awesome. Early learning skills can be easily developed at home. Parents have to devote a quality time and be creative in coming up with activities. I have done almost all of them. Will be doing the Christmas tree soon. Thanks.

  4. I’ve never really been around kids much in my life, so the concepts of learning the “basics” is brand new to me. I have a coworker who is teaching their 2 year old the prepositions “over there” and “here”, its interesting to hear about the progress.

  5. I grew up in a foster home, so there was always plenty of children to look after and I smile because I remember that ‘shape sorting’ was always one of our go to activities for toddlers. And I like the sound of the matching the lid of the boxes game as well!

  6. Such brilliant ways to teach the little ones about colours and shapes at home, with such simple tips and ideas.. Although I have tried a few of these but it’s always nice to have all of them listed in a post, specially for my friends and family.Will pass it on to few of them with small kids.

  7. I remember using most of them when my kids were babies and getting them to try their hands on the everyday stuff and surrounding really helps.

  8. These are some really cool ideas! I loved the diy foam shapes. Sadly my kids have grown up but would definitely share these with others.

  9. I honestly don’t remember how I taught my kids. I think a big part was the Brainy baby book for shapes. I think…I totally forgot already.

  10. Awesome ideas. I have tried few of these and many more myself. Practical fun learning is the best way to remember.

  11. Great post, Priya! I’m sure it’ll be helpful to many parents with toddlers. I remember those days fondly, we used to enjoy playing and teaching the kids when they were younger. Of course now with all 4 being tweens and teens, it’s a different sort of play and teach!

  12. Awesome tips and learning! I will share this to my bestfriend with a baby.

  13. This just reminds me of when I was young. My mum could get me puzzles that bear shapes then I’d try fixing them. Or even, buying me some junks we called ‘colors’ which were in various shapes. And that’s how I mastered all the shapes. When it come to toddlers, making it fun for them to learn ensures they never forget.

  14. Those are all lovely activities for parents to try! It’s good to start them early as well. It really is all about keeping their mind active and using different things to spark their interest.

  15. this is very easy to follow, helpful and colourful. thank you for sharing these great ideas and tips 🙂

  16. This is the best phase of life when we introduce different shapes and colors to our toddlers. I loved playing with their same shapes when I used to teach them.

  17. Wonderful activities. Shapes is something kids learn fast and all these fun activities make it easier for the child to learn and recognize.

  18. This is a very helpful post for moms with small kids. I remember teaching shapes to my elder one when she was small. She learnt through the shapes puzzle.

  19. Sharing this with my cousin she has a 6-month old and is always looking for great info on how to help his development. Great post!

  20. Thanks for this list mama. We recently tried the shape sorter and it helps a lot in learning the names of the shapes. Will try out these other suggestions too

  21. Oh I so loved these types of puzzles growing up especially the Chunky Shapes Puzzles. I love the foam concept more so though as it is less risk of injury.

  22. These are great ideas! I was just brainstorming activities with my mama friends last night!

  23. I absolutely loved the idea of matching the lids with the boxes. It will not only teach them shapes but also colours and improve their motor skills. Good one!

  24. These would be such great ways to teach the shapes. My daughter would have loved the bright colors. And between the visuals and the tactile stuff, it looks awesome.

  25. Hey these are some amazing tips. Though my son now know basic shapes.. will try these for other shapes learning.

  26. Great read! I love, love, love, all the ideas. I taught my kids their shapes, colors, alphabet…etc. Before they started school. I still, all these years later (my youngest is 19 and in college) a box full of all the learning materials and games I bought and made for them. I plan to give it to my future grandchildren.

  27. Shame I didn’t know that when my kids were toddlers. Now they teaching me some complicated math

  28. These are some great ideas to teach kids about shapes. Real objects, 3D shapes are always better than just showing pictures and telling them to remember.

  29. Making shapes with popsicles is my daughters’ favorite activity … many are new …so learn something new today…thanks… with such type of activities learning will become easy which every child remembers for a long time.

  30. All these are such fun and easy ideas to teach shapes to kids, I am definitely saving this.

  31. I have done a few of these with my son but this list is super helpful ans thanks for collating so many great ideas. This will be super helpful for teaching shapes to toddlers. Specially the DIY cut outs are super easy and cute.

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