Toddlers, PreK - Kindergarten
Areas developed: Organization, Planning, Focus, Pattern Recognition, Memory
Sorting is a foundational math skill for preschoolers. Sorting activities help children develop the understanding that things are alike and different and can be organized into groups. Practicing sorting at an early age helps lay the foundation for numerical concepts and grouping numbers and sets when they are older.
Look around the house and provide your children with a variety of things to sort:
Rocks, jellybeans, different cereals, socks, buttons, small animal toys, Legos, marbles, stuffed animals, dried pasta - Get creative!
A great example of a sorting game involves a standard deck of playing cards. Lay all of the cards out face up--or just a few, if your child feels overwhelmed by too many cards. We may have to gradually build up to a full deck. Regardless, once the cards are laid out, tell your child that the objective of this fun game is to sort the cards according to color, (black cards go in one pile, red cards go in another). Once your child can successfully and consistently sort in this way, make things more challenging by telling them the new goal is to sort the cards according to the shapes on them: cards with diamonds go in one pile, cards with hearts go in another, etc. Once they are successful in being able to do this, make things even more challenging by telling them the goal is to sort the cards by number: jacks go in one pile, eights go in another, etc.
This gradual progression in difficulty allows them to develop cognitive skills related to organization with a minimum of frustration. Plus, by periodically switching up the criteria for sorting, you are teaching them to adapt to changing situations, which is often difficult for children with attention issues.
Sorting of this kind is an excellent activity for younger children, and using a deck of cards is only one example. You could just as easily use Lego's, or army men, of stuffed animals, or socks, or any group of objects with defining characteristics conducive for sorting.
Remember, start slow with sorting that is relatively easy, and then build from there in terms of complexity. Like any skills, organization and adaptability do not come naturally to everyone, so taking things slow and at the child's own pace facilitate the most positive results.
Search online to find fun videos and activities to inspire you and your little one! Here is one we found - Cookie Monster and sorting!