Sep 23, 2014

WonderWorks: Sorting

The scientific concept of classification is fun to explore with preschoolers!

Today's Topic: Sorting (or Classification)
sets of things you have on hand (I used buttons, bottle caps, puppets, blocks, foam letters, some dyed noodles I had from a past project, magnetic wooden shapes)
containers to sort them into (I used ice cube trays, egg cartons, and buckets)

  cover art Same same / Jocelyn, Marthe

Where I found inspiration: 
alphabet sorting
seed sorting
What Kids Do:  sort by color

(This young explorer spent a lot of time deciding whether these buttons were all the same color since they were all sort of brownish. Love that flexible thinking!)

sort by shape

 Older participants enjoyed sorting by color AND shape.

 "These are all circles!"
(This young explorer liked the "house" shape of the yellow magnets, but couldn't find that same shape in other colors, so she made her own.  Brilliant!)

And sorting by type:

 "These balls don't belong in this set because they have holes."
"These are letters and these are 'not letters'."

Hindsight Tip: 
--I spent a lot of time talking with the kids about how we can sort groups of things in many different ways (e.g. the puppets could be sorted by animal, but could also be sorted by color (orange/not orange, striped / not striped) or by where you find them (farm / zoo)) and I'm glad I had that conversation, but the sorts that kids did were more visibly obvious divisions.  I'd love to know if some of the families today continued this activity at home and how long (probably in weeks/months?) it would take before kids began to sort by more abstract methods without an adult directly coaching them to do so.
--This topic could also easily count as a "math" topic.  I love STEM skills that overlap!

 Variations to try: 
--If you'd like to introduce the concept of charting results, try giving each kid a blank template that looks something like this:
and let them define their categories, then place the objects on one side or the other of the chart.

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