Sorting: A simple math literacy activity for young children

Toys sorted by color.

Toys sorted by color.

The idea of math literacy with young children can seem confusing; how can caregivers reinforce math skills if a child is too young to understand numbers? Modeling how to sort objects and letting children play with and sort objects on their own are great ways to start incorporating basic math concepts into your child’s life.

There are lots of ways you can do sorting activities with a child:

  • Gather a pile of stuffed animals; separate the stuffed animals into two piles, one for large ones and a second for small.
  • Pour two types of cereal in a mixed pile on a child’s food tray, then make an activity out of separating the two into distinct piles. You could also do this activity with grapes and cherry tomatoes, banana and apple slices, and other foods your child enjoys.
  • When sorting dirty clothes for the laundry, talk about how you are putting the reds with other reds, the whites with whites, etc.
  • Gather different household items and sort them into piles by color, size, or shape. Talk about why you put objects together.

Sorting helps children learn to differentiate between objects by what they are. These activities help them to learn their colors, to learn to notice size, and to begin to recognize the shapes they see in the world around them. All of these concepts will help children have a better foundation for learning math skills when they get to school.


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1 Comment

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One response to “Sorting: A simple math literacy activity for young children

  1. Nice activities! As an extension, after the items have been sorted then the child could be encouraged to make a simple pattern like ABAB using objects that are similar in shape.
    Tonya Simmons

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