Are you looking for a shape sorter for your little one? Hape Shake and Match shape sorter comes to mind. At around eighteen months most toddlers go into a major discovery phase, and if it’s up to us as parents to harness that discovery drive by providing our little people with fun puzzles and educational toys to explore.
The best toddler toys are simple, hands on, non-automatic toys, and a shape sorter fits well into that category. It’s not as open ended as some, but if you buy a quality shape sorter your toddler will be able to use it again and again and again; and when he doesn’t want to sort, he’ll still find a multitude of uses for both shapes and container.
Buying a quality shape sorter should be straightforward, but I found there were so many subpar products on the market that buying a decent one required a good amount of research. My requirements were not toocomplicated: I wanted to buy my child a shape sorter that would be inviting, conducive to learning, but also low-frustration and logical. I wanted each block to fit in just one hole, for I knew that otherwise my toddler would not be able to grasp the meaning of the puzzle. Since I try to make eco-friendly choices when possible and I prefer having my toddler handle wood rather than plastic, I also looked primarily at wood shape sorters.
I had five or six near-purchases, when I nearly brought a toy home only to discover that my criteria were not being met. Finally I found what I was looking for: the Hape Shake and Match Shape Sorter.
This sorter is nicely made of solid wood; a neat, compact, six-sided shape with a window on each of the hexagon’s sides. The wooden blocks are color coordinated to the appropriate sides of the hexagon, so your child can work on matching colors even as he works on matching shapes. This added visual hint also makes the puzzle more doable for younger toddlers.
Each shape fits into one hole, making it easy for my toddler to understand what the game is all about. The shapes themselves are very fun; they are sturdy wooden shapes, but each with a little plastic window enclosing several beads. These beads rattle around when they’re shaken or even picked up by the toddler, adding an extra element of fun.
Once the pieces have been fit into the little windows, they are securely in: the only way to get them out is to coax them back through the windows or to push aside the string in the larger, top opening and get them out that way. This requires a bit of coordination and planning from a toddler, but to me that is a pro, not a con: I don’t like having little pieces of toys scattered around the house, so I appreciate having a sorter that will keep the pieces contained when they’re not in use. And the extra puzzle won’t hurt my child.
Hape products are made according to the highest safety standards, and I’m glad I don’t have to worry if my little girl puts the pieces in her mouth: the paints are completely non-toxic.
What are the downsides to this shape sorter? I found none myself, so I had to comb other reviews to make up a list. It’s small as sorters go; this may be a benefit, as it is easily maneuverable by little hands, but it can also be seen as a negative point
The major criticism parents had was that pieces are not as easy to get out as in a traditional ‘box with a lid’. As I mentioned above, I prefer it this way, but if you are concerned about your child becoming frustrated rather than enjoying a challenge you may want to find a different sorter.
The windows and beads are plastic; a possible concern if you’re into only-wood toys. And it is made in China. The wood is Baltic birch, though, and the paints have been carefully tested in European labs.
Though it may have its downsides, I found the Hape Shake and Match the best all-round shape sorter for my one year old, and I’d recommend it to anyone.