crafting a meaningful little project at a time

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Day 8: Sorting, Sorting, Sorting

Day 8: Sorting, Sorting, Sorting

Toddler Task: Sort Bears by Size

Little Man’s job was to sort the green bears by size: he
used the words “BIG,” “medium,” and “tiny” to label the groups. He lined the
bears up to compare sizes, talking to himself and the bears as he worked:

“Is this BIG bear? No, he’s tiny. You go tiny bears pile.”

“Are you BIG? Yup- go over there!”

(Me) “Tell me about your groups, Buddy.”

(Pointing) “All the BIG bears, all the medium bears, and all
the tiny bears. They’re a picnic- (pointing at all the groups) Daddy bears,
Mommy bears, and Baby bears- ALL a family bears.”

PreK Task: Sort Green Objects, Create Categories, Justify

Given a bag of green objects (toys, play food, cars,
feather, etc.), sort the items into groups. Don’t predetermine the groups- let
the PreK Kiddo examine the attributes of the items and create her own
categories. Discuss rationale.

“I’m done- here are my groups!”

“Tell me how you decided to put these things into these

“This group is things with wheels, this is a group of trees,
this is a group of egg stuff, this is a group of bad guys- wait! the stepsister
belongs with the bad guys! (regrouped) This is the dinosaur, he’s the only good guy, this
is a group of food, this group is eating stuff (utensil & plate), and the
feather and the lace go together because they are long.”

“The way you grouped these things makes sense to me, except
the egg stuff- talk to me about those choices.”

“Well, there are eggs and a cup to put the egg stuff in when
you crack the eggs and cook with them.”

“Ah- makes perfect sense!” :)

What’s the point?

In everyday terms, kids learn basic math skills, like
counting, sorting, comparing, grouping, categorizing, and problem solving
through these kinds of play activities. If you want to get fancy and connect
these activities to state standards that your child will be expected to master
in kindergarten, sorting activities such as these teach and promote early
algebra skills- see below.

Indiana State Standard for Mathematics in Kindergarten: Standard 3
Algebra and Functions
Students sort and classify objects.
K.3.1 Identify, sort, and classify
objects by size, number, and other attributes. Identify objects that do not belong to a particular group.
Example: Find the squares in a collection of shapes. Sort these squares into large ones
and small ones and explain how you decided which squares went in
each pile.

Find the complete set of Mathematics Standards for Kindergarten
from INDOE here:

Find more info for activities in Sorting, Comparing, and Classifying at

For more ideas on how to teach and promote early math
skills, see this awesome post by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed from
“Teach Preschool” at

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