- Educators, researchers, and occupational therapists use STEM-certified shape-sorters as the go-to for early intervention and for classroom free-play. That’s because while children think they’re just playing, they’re actually learning about cause and effect, building emotional intelligence, and spatial manipulation. Even better, they’re practicing basic categorization concepts that are related to mathematics, music, chemistry, physics, and also biology.
- Shape sorters maximize learning especially if it’s STEM-certified. That mean’s it includes various core values of STEM-based education as compared to learning one core value per activity. Shape sorters are encouraging your child to learn creatively and not just memorize too.
- The average playtime for a toddler is between 5-8 minutes. Shape sorters keep your child engaged longer by stimulating many cognitive skills in a fun atmosphere. Their curiosity on how something works, hypothesizing what they should do, and working out their hypothesis to solve a challenge keeps them playing longer. You’re left with a couple of extra minutes of peace!
As a mum of two daughters, I wanted to create something that would allow my daughters to feel like they’re playing with a fun toy, but heavily considered a learning tool to build key learning concepts and their confidence.
Every child deserves to feel like they have the power to chase their dreams even if they are considered the minority. In the STEM industry, women and those of color are hardly represented.
As I started my quest to create something more than just another puzzle, I learned that there was a huge discrepancy in the STEM area of learning and how important it is for our children’s future in order to be innovators, leaders, and problem-solvers.
Not only that, but I had to make sure these puzzles wouldn’t discriminate against gender or socioeconomic status.
Children are better set up for success and learn positive habits based on the environment that is built around them.
Which leads me to how shape sorters are key to proper early childhood development.
STEM education and the Shape Sorter Connection
Children who are exposed to STEM as babies, toddlers, and continue throughout their childhood are much more likely to be successful in school and professionally when the stakes are much higher.
Not only are STEM-certified puzzles challenging in all the right ways, but they are also the educational tool that is used by all different types of educators.
Case in point, occupational therapists use them to help children “catch up” to age-appropriate milestones as an early intervention tactic.
Psychologists use them to help their patients learn emotional skills and increase language skills for better communication.
Educators in daycares and elementary schools use these as a go-to during free-play.
Here’s why it works so well in every avenue of education:
- Ability to hold your child’s attention: Kids are curious and want to know how things work. They enjoy a challenge too. Something that is fun is a bonus!
- Work as learning tools: It’s designed as a 3d shape that has to be matched to a specified hole on the baseboard.
- Multi-learning experience: That’s what makes Lock and Learn STEM-certified. If a toy is marketed using terms like “STEM learning” or “STEM Toy”, but isn’t certified, do some digging before buying. Teachers verbally label each shape, number, color, and describe it. Then, they hear it click into place, feel it click into place using fine motor skills, and see it.
- Teach cause and effect: When toddlers try to put a shape into the hole and it doesn’t click into place, they have to brainstorm how to make it work or try another hole.
- Increase self-esteem: As children learn how many sides or round edges a shape has, they are learning to count, they are learning how things match. Then, once they’ve mastered it, children can practice completing it faster. It becomes more challenging and exciting to complete these puzzles.
- Emotional intelligence building: Children learn patience as they get it wrong and try again. They learn to communicate why they are upset and that they need help to fix their problems. This is a great vocabulary building session too!
- Spatial manipulation: Children practice basic engineering concepts. Picturing the object fitting into the final picture is extremely important and helps build critical thinking skills. By imagining future steps you can think of why it may not work and avoid errors.
- Grow with a child: Shape sorters for one-year-olds teach them how to grasp a puzzle piece, at two-years-old they’re matching the right shapes. Then, they learn different colors by the time they’re three to four and memorize the names of the shapes.
You’re probably thinking that’s great my son or daughter can learn all this in school or daycare, but how do I know they can learn all of this at home?
I’m going to break down some easy ways to maximize learning at home using shape sorters.
But wait, what does creativity have to do with cognitive development?
Creativity is key to maximize learning!
Maximize Learning Using Shape Sorters
So, you’re interested in getting your child STEM-certified shape sorters to help build their cognitive and emotional development, right?
But, you’re still a little unsure of how to get them to learn independently and together for social skill development and parent-child bonding.
Here are some ways to introduce shape sorters to your little einstein in the making.
- Get excited for them! Kids love copying us, they look up to us, and they’re at the age of imitation. Plus, if others like something, we tend to like things.
- Don’t overwhelm them with shape sorter pieces. Complete the puzzle one at a time. Count the round edges and say the color of the puzzle piece as they figure out how to snap the piece into place. By doing this, they’re learning multiple STEM concepts in one.
- Get them curious about how the shapes may fit into each by testing out wrong shape sorters with holes. The curiosity level of a baby and toddler is extremely high. He/she will manipulate objects repeatedly just to get results. This helps build cause and effect.
- Ask questions to improve problem-solving skills. Guide them when they’re struggling too much and look like they might give up. Teach them how to work through a problem.
- Let them figure it out. If they seem like they’re close and enjoy the challenge at that point, cheer them on.
- Connect learning with everyday activities. This reinforces what they are learning.
- Establish a routine. Doing this every night as part of a before-bed activity is a great way to wind down, including learning time, and bond.
Sorting activities for toddlers build organizational skills and also help them to take a first foray into classification.
These preschool games set up pint-sized students for future coursework and success in mathematics, music, chemistry, physics, and also biology – all fields that rely heavily on categorization.
Just as we talked about in step 2, take the shape sorter and sort them by color or those with the same amount of sides or round edges before starting to complete the puzzle.
Once they’ve mastered counting shape sorters encourage free play for a different style of learning.
This is an easy one.
By taking off the image there is a baseboard where your child can snap the pieces into place based on memory.
As they count in numerical order it’s helping them practice recognizing numbers and sorting them without looking at which hole they fit in.
This solidifies what they have just learned and is more challenging.
Plus, the baseboard is a great way to allow free play AKA creative play because it’s Lego®, Duplo®, and Mega Blok® compatible. Providing an opportunity to build whatever they want.
Creative play is crucial for development and we are severely lacking it in our schools.
One thing we forget in school is to allow kids to explore, be creative, and innovative.
Lack of creativity in education has many negative effects.
Here’s the problem, our school education system is set up to learn based on memorization.
An even bigger problem is that only one way to understand a concept or solve a problem is taught. That is not the right approach for a classroom full of kids that learn differently.
This isn’t an issue with most teachers, the pressure teachers have to ensure their children pass is overwhelming and this approach isn’t working.
These methods don’t stimulate innovation and creativity. Those two are one of the core principles of STEM education and STEM-certified toys.
As any passionate teacher will tell you, it is possible for education to nurture key skills.
These key skills are critical thinking, collaboration, problem-solving, imagination, communication, agility, and empathy.
As many studies will tell you – or perhaps even your own experience as a student or parent – the common path to nurturing these skills is to foster fun, play, and creativity in the classroom.
However, that is not our reality at this time.
Shape Sorters Engage Children Longer
Are you a busy mum? Silly question, I know you are.
You’re busy trying to stop your children from killing each other over the same toy, but the catch is they both want the same color!
On top of that, you’re trying to cook dinner, clean, and squeeze in two minutes to go to the bathroom.
Even more, you don’t want your kids to watch too much TV because research is showing just how detrimental it is to their developing brain.
Shows decrease physical activity drastically. Physical activities ranging from crawling to walking around the house and interacting with the family members are all fundamental to their growth.
Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician from the Seattle Children’s Hospital and an international expert on children and media has said, “early experiences are important since this is the time when the brain size and function increase rapidly.”
Here’s what happens.
When a child is watching something on any screen, they’re in a passive state; hence, they are sensory-deprived.
Their brain development is reduced significantly compared to those whose senses are stimulated by the real-time environment.
How do mum’s getaway with no iPad or TV and get their kids to behave at the same time while they’re cooking dinner?
That’s where shape sorters for toddlers and kids come to the rescue.
Shape sorters for kids are engaging. It’s exercise for the brain. That’s what keeps them sitting longer for the right reasons.
In fact, after you’ve introduced the shape sorter just like how we talked about in the previous section, they’ll be inspired to continue solving their puzzle different ways to make it more complicated.
Maybe they’ll sort each animal by those who stay in the barn and those who stay out of the barn.
As it takes longer to complete, it gives you more time to center your focus with less of a worry.
Your kiddo is fully engaged, happier, learning to communicate, learning to ask questions, solve problems, and maybe even teach their sibling!
The average time for children to play with an activity depends on their age.
20-24 months – can stay attentive to activity with or without an adult for 3-6 minutes
25-36 months – pay attention to toys or activities for 5-8 minutes. They can also shift their attention from you talking to them back to the toy.
3-4 years – attends activities for 8-10 minutes. They can alternate his/her total attention between you talking to him/her and the activity he/she is doing independently.
As your child grows, so will their attention span as long as they are supported with engaging activities that promote cognitive development.
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