EGWs6uuBZ3pp-zGuVVdmeLgkJG4 Across the Avenue: Building Basic Concepts Through Play: Shapes and Colors #TheLearningJourney

Building Basic Concepts Through Play: Shapes and Colors #TheLearningJourney

As a speech-language pathologist and parent, I'm always looking for fun ways to practice basic concept skills with children. Parents often ask me what vocabulary they need to focus on and how they can help their toddlers and preschoolers at home. There are so many great ways to practice basic concept skills and two of my go-to choices are simply puzzles and board games. Puzzles and board games provide many language opportunities and afford children the attention they need to promote verbal communication. The Learning Journey offers a wide variety of fantastic ready-made, hands-on activities specifically created to encourage mastery of concepts such as shapes, colors, quantities, spatial relationships and more. This week, I'm targeting shapes and colors with many of my little ones, so I thought I'd share three of my top picks: Lift and Learn Colors and Shapes Puzzle, Play It! Race to the Rainbow game, and Match It — Fun with Shapes puzzle game. Check them out below!

But First, What are Basic Concepts?
Basic concepts are words that kids need to understand in order to participate in daily routines, follow directions, and participate successfully in conversations. Studies have shown a link between the ability of young children to understand and name these concepts and their future academic success. Basic concepts may include items from the following categories, which children should be able to identify and name:
  • shapes
  • colors
  • size
  • directionality (around, into, etc.)
  • spatial relationships (above, below, next to, in, out, etc.)
  • feelings/emotions
  • quantities
  • sequence
  • textures (smooth, bumpy, etc.)
  • time
  • characteristics (broken, old, new, etc.)

Top Picks: Colors and Shapes 
The Learning Journey is one of my favorite companies for educational resources for young children. I use their products often because of the quality and affordability. 

This tray puzzle offers loads of language opportunities! It includes all the basic shapes and colors I target with my little ones. The bright colors are enticing to kids and the large size make the pieces easy for them to handle. The lined text under the pieces teaches uppercase and lowercase handwriting skills — great for Preschoolers! Pictures are also printed under the pieces to guide younger children. Many of my kids try to use the crayons to draw, which shows they understand object function. 

Looking to elicit additional language skills? Place all of the pieces in your lap and require your child to request a piece prior to handing it to them (e.g. 'more, please', 'purple circle, please', 'I want green, please.' Taylor it to your child's ability). Working on receptive skills? With the pieces in the puzzle, use the carrier phrase 'Give me (insert color or shape), please.' The Learning Journey recommends using this puzzle with ages 3 and up, but I do use it with many of my two year olds as well.

This game appeals to kids as soon as you unfold the board! Race to the Rainbow helps to teach color and shape recognition in a play format, which each player choosing a unicorn or dragon character and taking turns drawing color and shape game cards. Landing on rainbows and pulling rain cards adds a little more excitement to the game. The first player to reach the rainbow castle wins. I like to think of Race to the Rainbow as a better version of Candyland. The rules are simple, but the concept reinforcement is strong! The Learning Journey recommends this game for kids ages 3 and up. 

For kids who love games there are plenty of ways to use these boards. The Learning Journey suggests taking turns selecting the proper shape to fit your puzzle board, and if you are the first to complete your puzzle with the right shapes and color, you win! I like to choose one puzzle board to work on together with my little ones who may need more support. This set is a great way to help kids develop shape recognition skills as well as cooperative skills through game play.  Choose from four different puzzle boards. Recommended for kids 2 and up.

Where to Purchase
Head over to The Learning Journey to check these picks out for yourself and browse the rest of their collection as well. Look for The Learning Journey learning toys and games at brick and mortar stores like Walmart, or online via

Connect with The Learning Journey!

Disclaimer: The products in this post were provided by The Learning Journey. As always, our posts are our own, honest opinions.