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Sorting and Classifying for Preschoolers

Working with Foam Shapes
Classifying & Sorting

(Pre-School Math; Language Skills)

Classifying and sorting is an everyday skill that most adults have mastered as we have practiced it our entire lives. Most of us began to acquire this skill when our parents told us to put the toys away for the first time. Sounds like a simple starting point, right? This is because most of us put our own office supplies away in an orderly manner according to their purpose without giving it a second thought. To a child, however, to put their toys away can honestly seem like a major task. Why, you may wonder. The answer is quite simple. There are so many toys that it may be overwhelming having to figure out where to put them, especially at a young age when they yet have to learn about this skill.

This is the main reason I tell my daughter (3 yrs) where to put the toys away. For example: put the animals away in their basket, put the blocks away in their bag, and so on. She is learning to classify and sort objects by putting them away in their respective ‘homes’ on a daily basis.

 Why is sorting important?

Sorting enhances logical thinking. One has to think about what makes that specific item belong to one category or another. Thus, we have to think of a specific characteristic to classify certain objects.
Moreover, children have observed us (for a long time) sorting items in the kitchen, the laundry (darks vs. lights), and putting away the groceries in different cabinets according to categories. They hear us talk about what goes here and what goes there.

Sorting is an everyday skill that we have mastered and our children need guidance in developing that skill.

I found a bag of foam pieces at Michaels for $1 that had cylinders and cubes in red, yellow, and blue. When I saw them, I thought they were perfect for some activities we could do at home in which we could ‘play’ to classify and sort items.

Here is what we are doing with them:
  •         ­Sort foam pieces by color
  •         Sort foam pieces by color and shape
  •         Discuss the names of the shapes and their colors in English and Spanish
  •         Count shapes from left to right
  •         Counting shapes in English and Spanish
  •         You can also introduce patterns

Other ideas to practice sorting and classifying at home:

1.       Classify buttons by size and color.
2.       Have your child help sort the laundry (lights vs. darks)
3.       Have your child put away toys in labeled bins according to a characteristic
4.       Sorting books by size
5.       Sorting cars vs trucks (if you have any at home)

For further reading, check:  

~ Fabi

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