Need an easy to set up activity that will keep your little one occupied for a bit? Want to spend some quality time developing your child’s reasoning skills and extending their vocabulary? Why not set up a sorting activity? They are easy to organise, low cost and are often returned to time and time again. What’s not to love?
What is sorting?
Sorting refers to any activity that involves grouping items by a common theme e.g. size or colour. For children, colour is often the first (and easiest) criteria to use. All you need is a collection of objects and some pots or boxes for them to sort into.
What do children gain by sorting items?
It is actually a really important cognitive skill – by identifying similarities and differences in items, children are learning about categorising as well as increasing their literacy and numeracy skills. Categorisation is a scientific concept – understanding that items can be grouped by similar criteria. They can also learn about reasoning (justifying and explaining WHY they have grouped the items in that way) and they are developing their fine motor skills too.
Set up a sorting activity – step by step
Begin by starting small – a collection of objects and just 2 options .e.g. red and blue, soft and hard, big and small. This will reinforce the concept you are teaching and limits the possibility of getting it wrong. Pick up an object and ask your child “where does this go? Is it big or small?” and then put it in the right place. Repeat with a similar object, this time encouraging them to put it in the right place also. Then try the opposite option (e.g. if your last 2 items were soft, use a hard item). Ask the same questions and support them to put it in the right place. Continue to sort the items. Celebrate when all of the items are sorted.
How to make it harder
Some children will pick this up really quickly. How can you make it more challenging for them?
- increase the number of options
- ask them to identify what the groups could be e.g. colours, sizes, materials
- suggest that an item goes in the wrong place….get them to justify why it DOESN’T belong
- choose items that are smaller to pick up e.g. coloured water beads – GREAT for those fine motor skills
You will find lots of other easy to set up activity ideas that you can replicate at home at your local Little Learners session – click here to find your nearest class.
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