10 Language Goals to Target with a Shape Sorter

It's no secret that I love toys and including play into my therapy sessions.  If you haven't already downloaded my FREE Play-Based Speech Therapy Homework you can download it HERE! One toy that I use often but have never really included is a shape sorter.  Sometimes this one may seem a little "babyish" but I am always surprised by my kiddos who want to play with it.  This toy can be used to target many language goals and I thought I'd put together a little list of ten goals you can target with a shape sorter. I usually bring it out with my Pre-K-Kinder population or my younger students who have autism. Please know these are just general ideas, really the possibilities are endless and you may need to adjust to what your student needs. Here are some ideas of how to use a shape sorter to target language skills! 

First is obvious, naming or identifying colors.  Now with this particular sorter, I am limited to five colors but usually, that is a good number to start with. You can give directions such as "Give me a purple block."  or ask questions "What color is the triangle?" to target this goal. 

Next is requesting!  This is a goal I work on often, many of my kiddos enjoy independent or parallel play and are used to grabbing what they want.  But often I want to encourage cooperative play where they acknowledge a partner playing with them, not just next to them. I will hold the sorter bucket with the blocks and put the top in front of the student.  Or I may hold all the blocks but give them the bucket with the top. Then prompt them to request what they want using as much detail as possible.  My end goal would be for them to verbalize "I want a red square please!"  or "Can I have the purple circle?" but we will work up to that with maybe just verbalizing or signing "more" or "please" at first. 

You may have to use some more structure when playing to target following directions by withholding some of the blocks.  You could maybe give your student half the blocks and you keep half.  Give them directions while handing one of your blocks such as "Put this block in the bucket" or "Stack this block on the star". 

Understanding quantities can be tricky for my younger kiddos.  With the blocks, you can work on understanding "more", "some", "all" and "none".  You can sort the blocks into two unequal groups and ask which group has more.  You can instruct the student to put all the blocks in the bucket.  You can ask the student to give you "some" blocks.  You can show them an empty bucket and ask how many are inside. 

This one can go hand-in-hand with following directions.  Prompt the student to give you a block with negation. For example "Find a block that is NOT red" or "Give me a block that is NOT round".  

You can use the top of sorter to match or you can put a set of blocks in a row and encourage your student to match them up with another set of blocks as shown in the picture. 

Positional Words, Spatial Concepts, or prepositions...whatever you call them they are all essentially the same and you can use the sorter to target them!  The easiest positional words to target with the sorter are "in", "out", "on", "off", "under" and "over". You can either have the student follow your direction "Put the square on the triangle" or answer a question "Where is the orange block?" while holding it over or under another object/block. 

Take turns putting the blocks in, taking them out, requesting, lining them up, naming them, counting them...any of the skills you are working with! 

Count the blocks, it may be easiest to put them all in a straight line to help work on one-to-one correspondence when counting.  For older students (end of kinder, 1st grade), you can use the blocks to count by 5's or 10's. 

And last but not least you can work on naming or identifying the shapes.  Ask the student "What shape is this?" while pointing to the block.  Request a block by naming the shape such as "Can I have a star?".  If your student is good with naming/identifying the basic shapes work on the attributes instead.  For example "What shape has three points?"  or "Give me a shape that has four sides". 
That's it!  One little toy and so many possibilities!

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