Skip to Content

Sorting It Out

I find my children sorting all the time, especially at the table.
After preparing a nice fruit salad for my daughters, one of my
two-year-olds separates all the different fruits (heaven forbid the
foods touch!) into tidy rows .  She is two and a half, and is enjoying
the order of life.  I made many materials for sorting to tickle this
need within my tot.  Big sister, age four, enjoys more complicated
versions of this, including sorting objects using a tool and sorting
objects by their initial sound.

The act of sorting is a tool for classification of the child’s
environment.  Sorting fosters the ability to discriminate or
differentiate size, color, shape or concept.  It is simply matching,
with more than one match for each.  To help a child self-correct and
work independently with sorting, I try to provide the same amount of
each item or concept so that the child can see if one is out of place.

 Try to begin with objects with great contrast and work towards the
objects or ideas that are more similar.  If you want to sort and count
each collection, it’s fun to put numbers next to each.  In Montessori
we call sorting and counting making sets.  Here is a step-by-step
lesson for sorting:

   * Using a basket or container with smaller compartments, place the
first object in one of the smaller compartments.
   * Choose the second object and compare it to the first.
   * If it matches, place it in with the first object.
   * If it does not match, place it in a different small compartment.
   * Continue on this way until all smaller compartments have a
different type of object and the large container has no more.

Happy Sorting!  Happy Valentine’s Day (you can sort Valentines!)

Jessie is a mother of three beautiful daughters (twin tots & a preschooler), an AMS trained Montessori teacher of 40 students, and a wife to one. Jessie has a background in dance, a yoga certification, and a Masters in Early Childhood Education. Jessie has a childhood education blog at

Never miss a post, Subscribe

Visit Top Mommy Blogs To Vote For Me!Rate My Blog @ Top Mommy Blogsreview on



Monday 7th of March 2011

You'll never have troubles with your kid being untidy and it's nice that you don't have to work so much on this part.


Tuesday 15th of February 2011

This looks like a lot of fun. My kids would enjoy this.

The girl who painted trees

Tuesday 15th of February 2011

Thanks, Jessie - I sure wondered about that smoke matching thing:-P

The Education Of Ours

Tuesday 15th of February 2011

Simple matching stage, I meant. Stinking autocorrect...

The Education Of Ours

Tuesday 15th of February 2011

Thanks everyone!

Julie, I don't think it means they don't like sorting. Jjo might still be at the smoke matching stage. Bear may like it if its tailored to her interests, like sorting tiles for a mosaic, or sorting sequins for sewing. Sometimes with the kindy age, I do a sorting with a purpose- some type of end result they can see. Now that Bear sorted the tiles, she can easily create a mosaic!

Hope that helps. Off to school!