Image by: Steve Hodgson

In-Out Game

Age Range
3-4 yrs
Setup Time
Under a minute!
Setup Location
Indoor / Outdoor

Stacking and nesting toys help a child develop ideas about size, shape, texture, weight, density, and distance. By encouraging exploration and manipulation, they can actually speed him toward mastery of large motor skills, like walking, and social skills, like talking.

Nesting toys--toys that fit together--emphasize relationship: there is big and bigger, small and smallest, bigger than, smaller than, and so on. Children usually respond to nesting toys between one and two years of age. By fitting one piece inside another, toddlers learn words that describe placement: over, under, in, out.

This is a great activity to introduce and develop spatial reasoning in young children, with emphasis on concepts of size, volume and rotation.


  1. Ask your child to put a toy IN another object (like a small ball in a toy car through its window)

  2. Ask your child to bring the toy OUT again after he has completed the first instruction

  3. For more advanced children, provide multiple objects that can be 'nested' into each other and have them 'guess' in which order they can 'fit' into each other

Disclaimer: This presents an overview of child development. It is important to keep in mind that the time frames presented are averages and some children may achieve various developmental milestones earlier or later than the average but still be within the normal range of development. This information is presented to help parents understand, at a high level, what to expect from their child. Any questions/concerns you may have about your child’s development should be shared with your doctor.