Friday, March 18, 2016

Everything in its Place, "Sort" Of

Think about your day.  You sort silverware and socks, mail, and loose change.  

You grocery shop.  You know where to find the veggies and fruits because they are sorted by type.

You go to the sporting goods store.  Shin guards are with the soccer stuff, gloves are in baseball gear.

You browse a clothing store. Clothes are arranged by color, jeans are in one place, tshirts in another.

So it is no surprise that the skill of sorting shows up early in preschool and Kindergarten curriculums.

That's why I am excited to show you some easy ways I have introduced sorting to my little guy.  I LOVE to sort.  It's in my DNA.  It makes me happy, helps me feel neat and organized.  And when I feel organized, I am more productive.  So, let's look at a few ways I have sorted with Camden...

Materials: sorting tray (a muffin tin will work just as well), pattern blocks, counting bears, colored straws cut into one inch pieces, jellybeans, lego minifigures, buttons, pizza toppings, building pieces (from Wendy's happy meals :).

I picked up this white tray at the dollar store.  It is probably meant for veggies and dip, but we have found so many more uses for it.  If I leave it laying on our family room table, I will find Camden sorting his legos or buttons into it.  The word "sort" has become part of his vocabulary.  And now that he knows how to sort, I have started teaching him the next level of understanding, to know how he is sorting.  So we sort the buttons by color, and talk about that, scoop them back up and try sorting by shape.  It's a tricky concept, but in Kindergarten, kids will be expected to be able to sort, and to be able to describe how they are sorting.  Once they have mastered that, they will need to be able to sort more than one way.

As I was doing some research about sorting, I came across this blog, Preschool Math: What Do Kids Need to Learn, and wanted to share it with you.  I love how Heidi takes preschool math concepts and breaks them down into: what is it, why is it important, what to watch out for, and how to practice.  She also includes what the top achieving Kindergarten students can do on the first day of school (not that I am trying to make sure my kid is that kid or anything).  But I do have to admit, I was pretty excited when I read her tips on how to practice sorting and realized I am doing most of what she recommended!

Now that your child has mastered the simple sort, what other skills can you practice?


Camden is using tongs to pick up pattern blocks and sort them into the tray.  I keep all our manipulatives in these boxes from IKEA.  They are perfect for storing small items, and at $2.99 for a three pack, they won't break the bank.  We use them for Lego storage as well.  See this post for more on how we organize and sort our Legos.

The tray has provided endless games and activities for us.  Here are a few...

Carson made up this game.  Roll the die, take the shape, begin building your pattern block man.  The first one to build his man wins!  We've also played this same type of game with Lego minifigures.

Roll the die, take a part of a minifigure from the corresponding number in the tray.  First person to build their minifigure, accessory included (see number 2), wins!

I love that Camden views these games as playing, but I know that behind the scenes we are working on skills that he can build upon as he grows.  What else can we sort? 

 I have a few ideas in the works...

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