If you’re thinking, “am I seriously about to be guilt tripped about not having implemented a full gym exercise program for my toddler?!” then I’m happy to say, the answer is “heck no!”

I’m talking about shapes as a learning and developmental concept. Like colours, this is one of those important early concepts that relates directly to how your child interprets and interacts with their physical environment. How well they are grasping these concepts can be an indicator of how their early brain development is going – with things like spatial awareness, depth perception and so on.

Shapes

As you can see, shapes come in all sizes and … er, shapes. Babies especially learn by putting things in their mouths to touch, feel and taste them, so showing them real shapes – like those old fashioned toy wooden blocks – make grasping the concept so much easier. Talking to them about the shapes they are playing with and using their correct names greatly enhances their understanding of the shape when you start showing them examples in a board book.

As with most things, it is best to start out with the most basic and easily recognisable forms first. Start with the Square, Circle and Triangle. Then add extras like the Rectangle, Star shape and Oval, etc.

Here are some suggestions from the many titles we have to help you explore:

There are also some more advanced and/or challenging shapes themed books to be found. Some incorporate seemingly unrelated concepts, themes, skills or knowledge. These are great because the young brain is fantastic at learning by association and the more things you can interlink through learning, the more their little sponge-like brains absorb and develop. Some examples include:

Cover Image for Colors and shapes

Colors and shapes / Angie Hewitt.

“Presenting a fun and engaging way to introduce early learning concepts to young children! Kids can use their finger to follow the grooves on each page to learn about basic shapes and colors. Practice tracing squares, circles, triangles, and more, all while learning to identify the color of each shape.”

Cover Image for Cuauhtemoc : shapes = formas

Cuauhtemoc : shapes = formas / Patty Rodriguez & Ariana Stein

“Inspired by the last Aztec emeror of Tenochtitlan, this book will introduce your little ones to shapes and their first English and Spanish words.”

Cover Image for Think circles! : a lift-the-flap counting, color, and shape book

Think circles! : a lift-the-flap counting, color, and shape book / Karen S. Robbins

“Preschool children will find this book’s colorful art irresistible as they lift the flaps and learn analytical thinking skills. Ten flaps are uniquely designed with circles that reveal the hidden image underneath. Think! And then lift the flap to see”

Cover Image for Paris : a book of shapes

Paris : a book of shapes / Ashley Evanson.

“Readers learn to identify shapes by viewing some famous Paris landmarks.”

Okay, before we shape up and ship out, let’s finish off with a little interactive sing-a-long. Luckily, somewhere on the interwebs you’ll always find a rhyme or song that has been adapted to the theme you’re looking for.

So, with those old coloured wooden blocks at the ready …

WHAT SHAPE IS THIS?

(Sung to: “The Muffin Man”)

Do you know what shape this is,
What shape this is, what shape this is?
Do you know what shape this is
I’m holding in my hand?

Yes, we know what shape this is,
What shape this is, what shape this is?
Yes, we know what shape this is
It’s … a … (insert shape name here) !