Nesting Toys in Early Childhood Development

Nesting and stacking toys help young children learn problem-solving skills.

Sometimes the simplest toys can be the most entertaining and educational. Children can gain many skills from exploring and manipulating nesting toys, or toys that fit inside one another. If you invest in some nesting toys for your little one, he will be able to play with them from infancy all the way through his preschool years.

Spatial Relationships

Nesting toys come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, but the one aspect they share is that they help children learn about spatial relationships. When nesting the cups or blocks inside one another, your child will be learning to compare which one is bigger or which is smaller. As he tries to fit them together, he will discover that some fit inside another while some will not. These types of spatial relationships are important early math skills, according to Zero to Three.

Fine Motor Skills

Young children need time to explore materials with their hands to help them build fine motor skills. As your little one picks up and holds the cups or blocks from his nesting toy set, he will build the muscles in his hands and fingers. He might even learn to dump the set of cups, which is another important skill, according to the Ask Dr. Sears website. When you flip the nesting cups or blocks over, they can become stacking toys, which can help your toddler or preschooler build hand-eye coordination as he places them on top of one another.

Positional Words

Playing with nesting toys can also help your child learn language skills, as you talk about how he is using them. Say something along the lines of, "You are putting the blue cup inside the red one" or "The small block is under the big one." He will pick up on these words that describe the position of items, such as over, under, inside, beside or between. Play a game with him by telling him where to place another small toy such as "under the red cup" or "on top of the biggest block." This will help him practice listening skills and develop the ability to follow directions.

Problem Solving Skills

The Zero to Three website lists problem-solving as a key math skill during the early years. Nesting toys can help your little one develop some problem-solving skills as he uses trial and error to fit the cups or blocks inside each other. For young children, it is not always an easy task to place the toys in the correct order, so they are likely to encounter a problem as they discover that a cup or block does not fit inside another. Offer support and guidance by saying, "Uh-oh, that one doesn't fit. What can we do?" Do not rush in to help him right away. Instead, see whether he can figure out for himself that he needs to take a toy out in order for the correct one to fit. That will build confidence by completing the task on his own, and will then use that experience the next time he faces the same problem.