Build early maths skills with stacking toys

Build early maths skills with stacking toys

Build early maths skills with stacking toys

Learn math through play with stacking toys

Your child is under five.

School is still a long way off.

But children don’t wait for formal lessons to begin learning math. They look in the toy box for challenges and set about their studies in a fun and pressure-free way.

And the way they do this is through stacking toys.

Stacking toys are didactic

Stacking toys have a bad name.

No, not that kind of bad name.

They are badly named: the term ‘stacking’ is a misnomer.

You can, of course, stack them if you like. But their key feature is that they are nested. Each piece is slightly smaller than the next, allowing it to fit inside it, like a Russian doll.

This makes the materials self-correcting: you can’t put them together incorrectly. If you get the order wrong, they don’t fit. This is why they are called didactic, a derivation of the Greek word ‘to teach’.

Seriation: Doing things in order

This ability to do things in the right order is known as seriation. It is the ability to arrange objects in a logical order based on a specific characteristic, such as size, color, or shape. Stacking toys encourage children to develop this skill by providing them with opportunities to arrange the pieces in a particular sequence. Through this process, children can learn about patterns and sequences, which are essential for understanding basic math concepts like counting, addition, and subtraction.

Which stacking toy should I choose?

Can your child handle the pieces? Are they too big or too small? And how tightly does everything fit together? When you’re a young toddler, your toys should allow a generous margin for error. It’s hard work co-ordinating fine and gross motor movements!

Stacking rings

A conical tower is the quintessential stacking toy. Largest ring at the bottom, smallest on top.

Can you manoeuvre the ring onto the post? It’s a challenge!

And once you’ve stacked a few, you take a step back and realise you missed one, so it’s back to the drawing board. Take everything off and start again. Luckily, you are motivated to succeed. You’ll get it right next time!

See Stacking fir trees.

Nested small world scenery

Like rainbow toys, hills and rivers, mountains and forest arches can all be stacked. These stackers provide readymade scenery for your small world play and can also be extended to create small tunnels for posting play.

Wooden Rainbows

The iconic rainbow is a modern classic. Beautiful in its own right, it also makes quick enclosures and tunnels and is a surprisingly versatile companion for blocks during construction play.

Final word

By incorporating stacking toys into your child's playtime you can help build a strong foundation for their future math success.

Best of all, it all happens through play.