At about 6 months old, my first child and I worked on our shape sorter. I would describe how this shape is a triangle. It has three sides, three angles, and three vertices (corners), 1, 2, 3. This is a square. It has four sides, 1,2,3,4. It has four angles, 1,2,3,4. It has four vertices (corners), 1,2,3,4. This is a circle. It is round and has no corners (vertices). This is a star and this is a plus sign.
In the beginning, my child was not interested, but wanted to play with them and put the shapes in his mouth. So I would then talk about the colors and describe each shape appropriately:
1) Blue circle
2) Orange star
3) Green square
4) Red triangle
5) Purple plus sign
Before the shape sorter, I had my shape flash cards and took them to the grocery store to relate the shapes to shapes we saw as we were shopping. Then a Thursday would come along and I would reintroduce the shape sorter to see if my child was interested.
Taking one of the shapes, I would try to put it in the hole that was not the right one and say that it didn’t work. I would try again at another wrong hole and do the same thing. This would be repeated until the right hole fit and I showed my child how happy I was and clapped my hands for the success. The intention was to try to model trial and error. When the shape didn’t fit the hole, I didn’t cry, I just tried again. This is to show my child that he didn’t have to get so frustrated and cry if things didn’t work out. It’s okay not to have a successful event the first time.
It was some time until my child was curious about the shape sorter and was not in the stage of putting everything in his mouth anymore. On one Thursday, here comes the shape sorter. We both sat down on the rug and I did the same thing of trial and error, but I only had two errors this time. This was repeated again. However, I noticed that my child had a questionable look on his face. He reached over to the lid, opened it up, and put all the shapes in the bucket. He then closed the lid and looked at me.
Knowing my son, he was probably wondering why mommy was trying to put the shapes in these holes all this time when mommy could have just opened up the lid and dumped the shapes in. Wasn’t that easier?
I could not have been more proud! He showed me a way that the shapes could fit in. In mathematics, there is more than one way to solve a problem. The problem was placing the shape blocks in the right hole and he did. He just found a bigger hole where all of them fit in. Having shared this, he was able to do this at about 13 months placing each shape in the appropriate holes.
It is incredible how babies can process things and really find the simplest solution to a problem. Babies need to be given more credit and more belief that they can do mathematics. It is simply amazing.
Where does this fit into the Schedule of Activities for 0-18 months?
Schedule of Activities for the Week
(0- 18 months)
|Monday||Tuesday||Wednesday||Thursday||Friday||Saturday and Sunday|
|Music||Reading||Numbers (counting)||Shapes||Art||Go and see it outside and explore|
Using this schedule, the shape sorter can be under colors and under shapes.
Something to think about:
You may find that your child can do this at 6 months or in 2 years. There is no race to see whose baby can do this at an earlier stage. The point is to do this with purpose. Learning about shapes needs to be fun, especially when working with a baby or older child. Remember to take your time, if this doesn’t work and seems to be more frustrating, put it to the side. This is not the time to force any topics. In about a week or even a month, try it again. It eventually will work out.