This is a great activity for working on fine motor control and colours, as well as shape.


  • Shapes*
  • Tools to transfer shapes
  • Bowls to put sorted shapes in to

*We used 3-D shapes because that is what Ioan is learning about at school.


Step 1: They sorted the shapes by colour. As they transferred them they made observations about the shape.

Step 2: We discussed some of the features of 2-D and 3-D shapes. They also used positional language to describe where they were placing the shapes, e.g. “I am putting the cube next to the sphere.’

Ioan counted the number of faces, edges and points and was able to name some of the 3-D shapes. When Finn called the cube a ‘square’, Ioan said “Well tried Finn, a square is when it is flat. This isn’t, look!”

Finn could tell us the names of some of the 2-D shapes, such as square, rectangle and circle. He also recognised a sphere, saying “That is a circle that is a ball. It has a special name, called a Sofia!”

Step 3: I encouraged them to swap tools to improve fine motor control.

Step 4: They got competitive, seeing if they could pick up a shape in each hand.

DfES Early Learning Goals (2017)

Physical Development

ELG 04 – Moving and handling:

Children show good control and co-ordination in large and small movements. They handle equipment and tools effectively.


ELG12 – Shape, space and measures:

Children explore characteristics of everyday objects and shapes and use mathematical language to describe them.

DfES Early Years Outcomes (2013)


Shape, Space and Measures (30-50 months)

  • Shows awareness of similarities of shapes in the environment.
  • Uses positional language.
  • Beginning to talk about the shapes of everyday objects, e.g. ’round’ and ‘tall’.

Shape, Space and Measures (40-60+ months)

  • Beginning to use mathematical names for ‘solid’ 3D shapes and ‘flat’ 2-D shapes, and mathematical terms to describe shapes.
  • Selects a particular named shape.
  • Can describe their relative position such as ‘behind’ or ‘next to’.

Physical Development

Moving and Handling (30-50 months)

  • Uses one-handed tools and equipment, e.g. makes snips in paper with child scissors.

Moving and Handling (40-60+ months)

  • Handles tools, objects, construction and malleable materials safely and with increasing control.
  • Shows a preference for a dominant hand.