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Shape Rescue

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Problem solving for little learners…

Every morning after breakfast, I set my youngest two children up with an activity. These are usually quick, no fuss set ups that are made with everyday items from around the house. Today we followed on from a previous ‘rescue the animals activity,’ with this shape based version.

You will need:

  • Deep loaf tin
  • Elastic bands
  • Shapes or similar objects


Simply place the shapes into the muffin tin, then wrap the elastic bands around the loaf tin. The more elastic bands you add, the more challenging the activity will be.

We never just do activities once. Whilst it sometimes seems that way on social media – because who would want to see the same post several times? – in reality there is a lot of variation on the same type of activity. I first introduced this activity to E (now 16 months), several weeks ago. At the time, we used a shallow pan, with fewer elastic bands. You can read more about that version here.

As he found the above version fairly straight forward, this time around I added a little extra challenge. We used a deeper pan (one used for baking loaves), more elastic bands and slightly smaller objects. The being said, he found the first version just a little too easy:

This is too easy, mama!

He rescued all of the shapes quickly, so I started to add elastic bands length-ways too. Today just one was enough to add the right level of challenge:

To gauge the correct level of challenge I usually observe how quickly E can do something. If it’s straightforward, he’s likely to get bored quickly and discard the activity but too difficult and he’ll cry in frustration. You therefore want an activity that hits the middle mark – just challenging enough.

Once he figured out this newer version of the challenge, he had fun putting the shapes both in and out of the loaf tin:

When he picked out a shape, I commented on it, ‘Blue triangle,’ for example. This was to help him with language development.

Key Benefits:

  • Problem solving: working out how to rescue the shapes.
  • Early mathematics: introducing shapes.
  • Language development: talking shapes and colours
  • Hand-eye coordination

Safety First!

Be aware that the elastic bands could snap or come loose. Remove any from your toddlers reach immediately. As always, do any DIY activity under really close supervision.

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Sian Thomas

Sian Thomas

Sian is a trained teacher mama to three awesome children and wife to Greg. As a family of expats, they travel the world every couple of years for new adventures. Right now, they live in Vienna, Austria.

One thing Sian is super passionate about? Helping mums worldwide navigate the early years of parenthood.

You can join her on her brand new venture, This Playful Home, by visiting www.thisplayfulhome.com or clicking the email sign up button below!

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