Squares. Circles. Triangles. Rectangles. Shapes are literally everywhere we look, and kids need to learn them. Fortunately, learning shapes can actually be a lot of fun! (For proof that learning shapes can be fun, see this post, this post, and this post.)
Below I have complied a list of 10 of the best gifts for teaching shapes. On this list are ideas for fun and educational toys that will help kids ages 1 and up learn to identify and understand 2-D and 3-D shapes of all kinds.
Note: For more great gift ideas for kids of all ages and interests, see my gift guides page.
Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Baby’s First Blocks: This is a classic toy for babies, and one that begins to teach them some basic shapes. In fact, it was one of the first toys we introduced QBoy to when he joined our family through adoption at 18 months of age. With this toy, babies work to put the six shapes through the correct hole to get them into the bucket. Then they take the lid off, dump the shapes, and try again.
Melissa & Doug Shapes Chunky Puzzle: Chunky puzzles are great for babies and toddlers, who lack the fine motor skill to use more advanced puzzles. This is a perfect beginning puzzle for introducing shapes to young kids. The bright colors make this an attractive puzzle.
Melissa & Doug Stack and Sort Board: Most toddlers go through phases where they enjoy stacking items together. This toy meets that developmental need while also helping your toddler to learn about shapes. As an added bonus, your child will get sorting practice as he or she completes this stack and sort board.
Learning Resources Tangrams Smart Pack: Tangrams are a classic toy for building shape knowledge and spatial awareness. This pack includes four sets of tangrams with seven pieces each (for a total of 28 pieces in the pack). It also includes an activity guide with ideas.
Magna-Tiles® Clear Colors 100 Piece Set: Magna-Tiles are probably my all-time favorite toy. We first purchased these when QBoy was two-year-old, and three years later my kids still play with Magna-Tiles on a regular basis. Magna-Tiles are awesome for teaching shapes and spatial relationships (aka, early geometry). Through playing with Magna-Tiles, kids intuitively learn concepts about angles, combining shapes to make new shapes, and how various 2-D shapes can be used to form 3-D shapes. Magna-Tiles are expensive, but they are have been well worth the investment given how much use my kids have gotten out of them.
MindWare Imaginets: Imaginets are magnetic shapes that come with a magnetic board that doubles as a carrying case. Kids can combine shapes to create pictures using the included picture cards or their imagination. This toy is great for learning shapes, geometry, and developing spatial awareness skills.
Learning Resources Wooden Pattern Blocks (Set of 250): These wooden pattern blocks are well constructed and will provide hours of educational fun. Download free pattern block templates from Learning Resources, PreKinders or Confessions of a Homeschooler to inspire your child’s imagination and get him or her having fun with shapes. Or check out my free “How Many Ways to Make a Shape?” printable for a more advanced learning activity using pattern blocks.
Learning Resources Attribute Blocks: One of the very first learning tools I ever purchased, on the recommendation of QBoy’s early intervention specialist, was a set of attribute blocks. This set includes 60 pieces that differ along four dimensions of shape, color, size, and thickness.These are great for learning shapes (as well as learning colors and developing sorting skills). The set includes five different shapes: squares, rectangles, circles, triangles, and hexagons.
Wikki Stix Basic Shapes Creative Fun Kit: I rave about Wikki Stix and recommend them for learning all kinds of things, including shapes. Wikki Stix are wax coated strings that you can bend, stick, and create with no need for tape or glue. They clean easily and never dry out (ours are more than two years old are still work great!). This Wikki Stix shapes kit includes a number of Wikki Stix as well as cards for making a variety of shapes and even combining shapes to make pictures.
Learning Resources Folding Geometric Shapes: I love this set for teaching 3-D geometric shapes. Some things that make this set special include the fact that each shape opens up. Inside, kids can take out the folding colored shape and lay it flat to see how each face of the 3-D shape is made from different 2-D shapes. Kids can also fill the shapes with rice or sand to get a sense for how the volumes compare. The set includes a total of eight different shapes all about 3″ in height.
Looking for more great gift ideas? Check out my other gift guides:
- Best gifts for kids who love science
- Best gifts for kids who love to build
- Best gifts for developing kids’ fine motor skills
- Best gifts for active kids
- Best gifts for kids who love arts & crafts
- Best gifts for encouraging sensory play
- Best gifts for developing math concepts
- Best gifts for teaching letters
- Best gifts for kids who love LEGO