5 Ways to Level Up Your Shape Sorting Toy at Home


child using a shape sorting toy

#affiliate links are included and if you choose to purchase, we will receive a small percentage-Thank you!

What is a Shape Sorting Toy?

A shape sorting toy includes shapes like circle, parallelogram, quatrefoil, square, diamond, oval, and pentagon. A child usually places the shapes into correct holes that match their shapes. I love the shape sorting toy Melissa and Doug!  It is colorful and it also rolls which is fun for the kids. My daughter loves to match the shapes and colors! It contains primary and secondary colors.

While I was at home distance learning with my student, I used these 5 differentiations with my shape sorting toy. This is normally a toy designed for younger kids, but these activities kept my 5 year old engaged while she learned some great math vocabulary. She continued to build her fine motor skills and use some deeper critical thinking skills as well.

Vocabulary You Can Use

We have highlighted these vocabulary words throughout the post in the color green so you can see how to use them in context.

primary and complementary colors
organic and geometric shapes

Five Different Ways I Used the Shape Sorting Toy

1) Roll and Match:
This shape sorting toy is great because the shapes are the same color as the side that they go into, so they make it really easy to match for your young student.
For an individual child: roll the shape sorter and put in the shapes matching the color that shows up.
For partners: 1 person rolls and the other person puts shapes in.
2) Trace the shapes:
Have student place the 3D shape on a flat side. For older students, explain that the shape is called a prism, so it’s a long tube of the same shape. The shapes on top and bottom are identical.  Have student trace the shape on a plain piece of white paper with a matching color. You may need multiple sheets of paper.
Partners: Each partner traces the shapes, then switch papers.
learn 2D and 3D shapes with this shape sorting toy
Challenge! Have your student use complementary colors to trace the shapes.
Extension: Before explaining the concept, buy a roll of Pillsbury cookie dough with shapes in the center. Encourage your children to notice that the shape is the same anywhere you cut the dough. This is the same concept as a prism.

3) Match each prism:

 Have your child match each prism to the 2D shape they traced on the paper.
shape sorting toy ideas for math and art
Challenge: Partner up and race or race against the clock.

4)  Sort your shapes by:

  • Color
  • Number of sides
  • Number of angles
  • Organic and geometric shapes

5) Pick a prism

Talk about what a prism is and how each of the blocks represents a type of prism. Have students create each prism with:

Don’t forget about vocabulary

Vocabulary is essential to your student or students building the content literacy they need to be successful. You want to make sure that your students understand the language they need to use in order to understand what they’re learning. As you teach your unit, choose 5 vocabulary words that all relate to your theme and are essential for comprehending the unit.

What is concept based instruction?

You may be asking, “What is concept based instruction?” It is when a large percentage of your classroom curriculum is connected by a certain theme or deeper concept. Your vocabulary, reading, and writing are centered around your theme, and when your theme is one of your science or social studies concepts, you get magic! I dabbled in this a bit in my earlier teaching. We had cute themes like teddy bears and the circus,  but it was when my themes and vocabulary words came from our content area units that I saw a real difference.

Concept-based instruction provides your students with countless benefits. Here are just a few. Your students will: (Inspirational Teaching Using Limited Resources)

  • Have fun
  • Be more actively involved
  • Develop learning skills more quickly, as each one is connected to and reinforced by the other
  • Be more confident and better motivated
  • Present fewer discipline problems.

Think about it, you introduce your theme and your students know exactly what they will be learning for that time frame. Imagine asking your students “what are we learning class?” and every single one responds, “citizenship!” or whatever you happen to be learning.

CLICK HERE to read our post all about content-based instruction and how you can seamlessly connect literacy to everything you teach.

Check out our math emergent reader and bundle to see how our math words all go together for maximum comprehension!


a picture of our logo
Like this post? Comment below and share it!

Share this post

Subscribe to our Newsletter!



Looking for something?