Shape sorters are a good way to learn about colors and shapes. Some shape sorters that come with two pieces of each shape can be used for matching too. There are dozens of varieties of shape sorters. This toy develops concentration, thinking ability and a fine motor skill - picking up and releasing.
We have Fisher Price Brilliant Basics Baby's First Blocks. Simple, lightweight, has two pieces of each shape (circle, triangle, square, cross, and star), but I wish the lid didn't come off so easily since Matthew is always interested in taking the lid off. There are other shape sorters that have better lids or no lids, depending on the design. We'll stick with this one anyway.
Dump and Fill
When Matthew was around a year old, the bucket was used to practice dumping/emptying. Pieces were also flung across the room when he was in the flinging phase. Once he learned the concept of 'releasing' a couple of months later, he began dumping AND filling.
I started with the circle - the easiest shape to learn. I did this activity hand over hand, guiding his hand to the circular slot, which I always positioned facing him front and center. It was the easiest way to learn and gave him immediate success with dropping the shapes in. I used this method for the other shapes as well while talking about these different shapes or naming them. Sometimes, I'd let him try to put the shapes in by trial and error. He got pretty good with the circle after many tries and lots of praise at each successful attempt.
Two weeks ago, his Developmental Therapist suggested covering up all but two slots. Having limited choices simplifies the sorting process with less to look at. I've learned this approach of breaking things down is how Matthew learns best. Some kids may learn the same way, some may learn better with a different approach. I sealed off all but the triangular and circular slots with masking tape (as shown in the photo). We are currently working on putting the circle and triangle in without any hand over hand guidance. And he recently differentiated the triangle from the circle without prompting from me. He's still not consistent but it's just a matter of practice. I'll be introducing more shapes this way - square next.
A must-have to help with baby's/ toddler's cognitive development. And it's fun!