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Sorting, Classifying, and Organizing

Sorting and organizing things into sets and groups is an important math skill for young children to develop. Have fun exploring your world while you practice these skills. Children can classify objects, ideas, sounds, smells, or flavors into groups of like items.

  • Sort during cleanup
    Sort the socks, shirts, and pants during laundry time. Organize spoons, forks, and dull knives in a basket when putting away clean dishes. Decide which drawer, basket, or closet is the right place for each item.
  • Group foods
    Talk about groups of different kinds of foods during meals. Classify food by type, color, texture, and flavor. For example, say “the corn and bell pepper are both yellow. Is the carrot yellow or a different color?” Or “The apple is sweet and the lemon is sour. Is the strawberry sweet or sour?”
  • Create collections!
    Children can use egg cartons or sheets of paper with two or more sections for grouping similar things. Use natural objects such as rocks, sticks, or pinecones that you find outdoors. Small objects such as coins, crayons, or stickers that you find around the house are also good for sorting.
  • Talk about attributes
    Ask about the attributes of people and pets around you. Who is wearing shoes and who is wearing boots? Who has shoes with laces and who has shoes without laces? Who has gloves and who has mittens? Who has fur and who has feathers? Who has a red shirt and who has a different color shirt?

IEL Resource

About this resource

Setting(s) for which the article is intended:
  • Kindergarten
  • Home
  • Family Child Care
  • Child Care Center
  • Preschool Program

Intended audience(s):
  • Parents / Family
  • Teachers / Service providers

Age Levels (the age of the children to whom the article applies):
Related IEL Birth to Three Guidelines:
Related Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards:
Reviewed: 2016