Homeschool Preschool: Sorting

I have yet to meet a child who doesn't enjoy the "game" of sorting. For moms, it's a cheap, easy educational tool. For children, it's a game that has endless variations.

A good place to begin is button sorting:
1. Choose a variety of buttons; if you don't want to purchase them new at a fabric store, cut them off too-small clothes or purchase some at a thrift store. You can also buy a bag of more buttons than you'll need at Amazon for $3 or so. Choose a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. They should be large enough they are easy for a toddler to pick up and handle.
2. Allow your child to handle and examine the buttons for a few minutes before beginning the game. (This is an essential tip for all young children; let them get their natural curiosity satisfied before you try to get them to focus on anything else.)
3. Lay out a few small bowls and ask your child to sort the buttons. Start by sorting them by color ("Can you put all the blue buttons in this bowl?"), then move on to size ("Put the biggest buttons in this bowl"), and shape ("Put the circle buttons in this bowl and the triangle buttons in this bowl"). You don't have to do all types of sorting in one sitting. Instead, let your child dictate how quickly or slowly you change the game.

4. Add a little math to the game by helping your child count the buttons. Keep the numbers small at first; for example, count all four red buttons, then all two purple buttons.
5. To help develop fine motor skills, you can later have your child use tongs to sort the buttons; later, try tweezers (sold in education supply stores).
Other sorting ideas:

Once your child has mastered buttons, try buying a bag of 16 bean soup beans and have your preschooler sort them by type, color, and size into bowls or the indentions in an egg carton.

You can also teach your child about sorting by having him or her help with the laundry. For example, have your son help you go through the clean laundry pile, pulling out all the socks. When he's good at that, teach him to separate Daddy's socks from his own.

Soon you'll start to see sorting games everywhere: In the blocks and Legos, coins, keys, pencils, fruits and veggies, leaves, name it! But whatever objects you choose to sort, the focus should generally be on learning shapes and colors; big, small, and medium-sizes; identifying objects that share something similar (like color, size, or type), and identifying objects that are different from the rest.

More Articles in the Homeschool Preschool Series:

Why Homeschool Preschool? 
Thoughts on Readiness 
How Much Time? 
Scissor Skills
Colors & Shapes
The Balance Beam Game

1 comment

  1. I love this idea of sorting and the fact that you can begin with things found around the house. I have a nearly two-year-old grandson who loves it when I "play" with him on the floor. We sort lots of the bigger toys my children have outgrown already. Great tip.