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Shape sorters feature in every nursery and offer a great way for babies to begin to understand the world around them and how they interact with it. Research over the last few years, however, suggests that babies learn shapes regardless of whether they have access to these sorts of manufactured toys. Studies of babies born in developing countries, without access to the toys we enjoy in the Western world, confirm that they are just as able to differentiate between different shapes regardless.
This prompts thinking that babies have a disposition to recognise lines that don't change as an object or shape moves in space before they recognise more complex shapes that do. For example, they can see that straight lines remain straight while an object moves, even though the angles between lines change, making them harder to recognise.
This research helps us begin to form an understanding of how babies really begin to understand the world around them which in turn will allow us to develop aids that may help and accelerate children in their learning.
Of course, shape sorters aren't just about learning particular shapes - they also help develop fine motor skills as babies practice picking up objects, rotating them in their hands and guiding them through holes on another object. The ability to post objects through holes offers the first steps towards being able to pick up and control objects in the wider world.
Early skills form an essential part of the Early Years Foundation Stage - make sure that your babies are interacting with objects in a nursery setting and you are already following several Areas of Learning!
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