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Make Like a Montessori Mama: Part 4 – Shape Activities

Part 4 of the “Make like a Montessori Mama” series is definitely my favorite, it’s right up our alley.  C loves creating pictures with his Magnetic Pattern Blocksand learning the names of the shapes (everything from quadrilaterals to trapezoids).  Plus this shape sorter is currently S’s toy of choice.  I can’t wait to try out these activities with the kids later this week… Take it away Kylie:


Five great Montessori inspired activities about SHAPES!

There are many Montessori materials that promote learning about shapes however if chosen carefully there are also some great materials to be found in toy stores. Puzzles and shape sorters are good examples. Look for high quality materials preferably using natural materials such as wood.  I have also included some activities using materials from around the home that promote learning about shapes and will assist with coordination and concentration.

1. Large shape puzzle

Large shape puzzles are for many children their first introduction to shapes. A child around nine to twelve months may be interested in the circle as this is the easiest shape to put back into the puzzle. The child will over time move to the  square and then the triangle.  Large knobbed handles are important so the child can use the puzzle easily and they also promote the early use of the pincer grip.

2. Shape pinning and cutting

Shape pinning and cutting introduce the child to the edges of shapes. These activities are best suited to a child from two years.

Pinning uses shapes printed on paper attached to a corkboard. I have used masking tape. The child uses a pin-board pin/tack to pin around the shape. The shape of the pin/tack encourages the use of the pincer grip that prepares the hand for writing. This activity is also good for coordination and concentration.

Cutting out a shape uses a shape printed on paper and some scissors. The scissors need to be sharp but use ones with a rounded tip and that are the right size for your child’s hand. Cutting as we know is also great for coordination and will build up strength in the child’s hand. 

3. Matching shape outlines

This is a simple activity that allows the child to explore different shapes and their many sides. This requires shapes printed and laminated and coloured matchsticks. I match the colour of the shape to the colour of the matchsticks and only put out the corresponding number of matchsticks to the number of sides of the shape. For example I put in the dish five yellow matchsticks for the five-sided yellow pentagon. The child chooses a shape and outlines the shape with the matchsticks. When printing out the shapes it is important to ensure the length of the sides are the same length as the matchsticks so they match precisely. 

4. Shape sorters

Shape sorters are great for cognitive development and space perception skills. The shape sorter on the top left is suitable for a younger child from around one year. The graduated shape sorter is for children from around two years.

5. Patterning with shapes

These materials allow children of different ages to experiment with shapes to make patterns, abstract pictures and discover how shapes fit together. The hammering activity is a favourite with children from around two years and uses the child’s fine motor skills in the handling of the pins/nails.  

The mosaic shape pieces are best for an older child, most likely a child five to seven would be interested in making geometric shapes and patterns that can also be very visually stimulating.

Always remember to follow your child’s lead. Observe your child and try to match the activity to their interests and skill level. If the child isn’t interested in the activity leave it out for a week or so or try again later. If the child still doesn’t show any interest it may be best to put it away for a while and try another activity. 

Kylie D’Alton has two sons and blogs at how we montessori about raising them the Montessori way.

The entire Make Like a Montessori Mama series



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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Tenley November 15, 2011 at 2:36 pm

I love these montessori posts! I gave my daughter he first puzzle at around 8 months, a Melissa and Doug with large handles (along with the magnet fishing game). She’s 18 months now and pretty good at other wooden puzzles. It’s so neat to watch them grow. :]


new jersey nutcrackers November 16, 2011 at 9:30 am

This is such a great idea for your kid’s mind growth. kids find their own techniques to solve such puzzles which is really good thing.


www.DothanAcresHomeschool.blogspot.com January 9, 2012 at 12:57 am

I have just discovered your blog, and am really loving the ideas you have! My son was 2 in october, and finding ideas like this to do with him are great. You can find me at Dothan Acres, I would love for you to drop by. Thanks for all your info here!


www.DothanAcresHomeschool.blogspot.com January 9, 2012 at 11:28 pm

Only found your blog recently and am finding all your info on Montessori very interesting and motivating! With the matching shape outline with matchsticks, any chance you still have the document with the shapes to print?! I’ve found it difficult to find any good shapes on the net to print for this, and also don’t have a program that I can make something similar.
Kind regards


Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com January 11, 2012 at 7:56 am

Hi there,

Since this was a guest post, you might want to direct your question to Kylie over at how we montessori: http://www.howwemontessori.typepad.com/


mylemonayde.blogspot.com May 24, 2012 at 4:39 am

Thankyou for sharing these simple activities. I think simple is quite often the activities that have most impact. I have just discovered your blog, it’s brilliant. I am a teacher and parent of young children myself and I still find myself blown away by new ideas and generosity of sharing. Thanks again as I am a new follower. H x


virginia June 29, 2013 at 2:28 am

Thanks for sharing. I hosted my first busy bag swap and one of the moms brought this activity to share. It looks great and I can’t wait for my little guy to try it.


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