Many of the children in my setting have shown an interest in sequencing toys and toys that descend in size. Often toy animals are set up in family groups and size order. The parents and the babies. Usually the children label the daddy animal as the tallest, the mummy as the next in line and then the little one is the baby!

They have also enjoyed nesting dolls. Slotting each one inside the other until they are all inside one doll. They also like to take them apart and line them up in size order. The Early years outcomes show that this is an expected developmental stage for children of 3 years.

Early years outcomes:- Mathematics (shape, space and measures)

  • 30- 50 months – Shows an interest in shape and space by playing with shapes or making arrangements with objects
I bought this puzzle at the weekend and introduced it to the children this morning. As a new toy it was immediately a hit and both little “X” and little “L” were keen to try it out. 
Little “X” in particular finds this sort of activity interesting. I actually bought him stacking Robots for Christmas as he shows so much enjoyment in them. 

He started to take the first row apart and place them on the table. I grouped them together to start with and asked him to find the tallest piece.  He looked at them and selected the correct one. He also looked carefully at the other pieces on the board and used that as a visual guide for arranging these pieces back on the board.

I then asked him to find the next biggest piece. He had no trouble with this and then told me he was going to get the small one. We did the same with the outer pieces starting with the tallest and working our way down in size.

Before long he could take all the pieces off the board and then rearrange them in size order as they had been before. He used the size language whilst doing this. He has a clear understanding of big and small and that there are sizes in between that can be placed in descending order form big to small.

This is a concept that he has a secure understanding of and can use in many different areas of his play and life. I have seen him use this process when looking at the food on his plate or organising his cars. Little “X” is 37 months and the Early years outcomes do not expect this until they are a little older. 

Early years outcomes:- Mathematics (shape, space and measures)

  • 40- 60 months – Orders two or three items by length or height. 

I offered these toys as a way to assess the concept of size that each child has developed. I wanted to see what knowledge they have for sorting items in to size order. This activity was also designed to encourage size language such as “Big, bigger, biggest, and “Small, smaller, smallest”


Both little “X” and Little “L” were keen to try out this new toy!. Little “X” showed great skill and understanding in organising his blocks by size. He could see if he had made a mistake and self corrected most of the time. seeing the mistake in his sorting. He kept trying until he had it positioned correctly. He showed clear pleasure and pride in his achievements and wanted to share the finished task with his friends. He used knowledge that he had attained from similar toys to apply to this one. This process worked well for him.

Today’s play, meets the following EYFS Prime and specific areas
  • Communication and Language
  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Physical Development
  • Mathematics

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