This year, we’re urging parents to Keep Summer Learning in Sight with toys and activities that promote the visual skills needed for success! Prevent summer learning loss and keep the kids off of screens with the products we’ll be reviewing in our VISIONary Toys series by Marsha Sorenson, OD, FCOVD.
A classic favorite, shape sorter toys are a great way to build visual discrimination, visual-motor, and fine motor skills in young children! There a variety of different shaped pieces for the child to touch and play with, and a box with different shaped holes that the pieces fit inside of. The child matches up the shapes to fit in the hole and then gets to watch it fall inside the box.
As children develop, they first use their motor system as their dominant sensory system to explore the world. This means they use touch to navigate their environment. As development progresses, the visual system becomes the dominant system to explore space, and the child begins to learn to use vision to guide their motor movements.
When playing with a shape sorter toy, a child will first use their motor system to insert the shapes into their holes–meaning they will select a shape and try put it into any hole until it fits. As vision becomes the dominant sensory system, the child will become better at selecting a shape based on how it looks and being able to determine which hole it matches.
Visual discrimination, visual motor, and fine motor skills are all important for classroom success. Visual discrimination skills help children assign meaning to shapes and symbols, which helps them learn their letters and numbers. Visual motor integration, or eye-hand coordination, is an important foundational skill for handwriting. A child must also have good fine motor coordination of the pencil to correctly form letters when writing.
Shape sorter toys are a great toy for kids ages 1-3! Start building your child’s visual-motor skills today!