Categorizing and Sorting in Kindergarten




One of the Common Core Standards for Kindergarten is to classify objects into categories and count the number of objects in each category.  We begin our school year with this standard because it's an easy one that all the students can usually master.

We actually begin by introducing our math manipulatives in exploring centers- I get out the different manipulatives and let the kids explore them.  I've actually covered that here, if you want to see how I introduce math manipulatives and centers to my students. Our first official lesson is  matching socks based on their attributes.  I gathered several socks of different patterns, colors, and sizes.  (Snagging some worn out old socks with holes in them works really well!)  Then I gave each child a sock and they found a partner who had the same sock.

After we played that game a few times, we talked about the socks and how they were the same and different.  We used "These socks are the same because ______" and then they had to fill in the blank with a physical attribute of the socks.  Another fun activity is to find socks that are similar to each other but not exactly the same- like one sock that has blue stripes and one that has black, or one sock with orange cats and one with blue.  Then you can play the "these are the same because ______ but they are different because ______."  Basically, I just like to get my kids noticing how things are the same and different.

The second day, I gathered materials where the objects were similar but had something different- for example, two pencils where one pencil was sharpened, or two crayons but one was blue and one was red.  I just gathered objects from around the classroom.  We used these objects to talk about how they were "the same, but different because this one is ______ and this one is _______."  For example,"they are both markers but they are different because one is blue and one is red."  It really helped them look more closely at the objects to tell why they were the same but different. Then we sorted with attribute blocks.  If you don't have these in your classroom, they are great for sorting!

First, we started talking about how we could sort our attribute blocks.  The first way we decided to sort was by color.  Note:  I didn't use all the attribute blocks to sort, to avoid overwhelming them.  



Then the students decided we needed to sort by shape.  

  We also sorted by thick and thin.

Then we sorted these utensils.  I purchased 4 packs of utensils from the Dollar Tree in 4 different colors.  (The best part- the rest of the utensils were perfect for eating lunch!)  I gave each of my students a utensil, and we talked about how we wanted to sort.  


We sorted by type of utensil first, forks, knives and spoons.  Then I asked them how we could sort them a different way, and they suggested color.  So we lined up on our carpet in rows- blue utensils stood on blue, green stood on green, and so on.  


After switching up our utensils and doing this a few times, we worked on our anchor chart.
We made an anchor chart about all the ways we could sort.  We added to this cart as we sorted more and more objects.  


Then we got to do some sorting in centers!  I purchased or pulled out several different things the students could sort- foam shapes, pom poms, google eyes, buttons, shape buttons, and attribute blocks.  We didn't end up using the google eyes or shape buttons this year, but I saved them for next year- just in case.  The cookie sheets and sorting containers all came from the Dollar Tree.



Our first sorting activity was sorting these foam shapes.  I gave each student in the group a small cupcake pan and foam shapes in a cup.  There were 6 different colors, several different shapes, and different sized shapes.

Sometimes they sorted by color... 


Or by shape... 

And even by size!


When a student was finished sorting, I would ask them "how else can you sort these?" to get their brains thinking about other ways they can be sorted.

I also gave the students the opportunity to sort the attribute blocks.  We used cookie sheets for sorting.  

 Some students sorted by color... 

They lined them up and stacked them.

Some sorted by shape... 



I also had buttons for the students to sort.  They could sort by number of holes, or color, or size.
This student sorted by number of holes (2 holes, 4 holes, and some sets had no holes)


Size (tiny, small, medium, and big)

Color

 As they sorted, I walked around and asked them how they sorted their objects.  This student is explaining that she sorted by how many holes the buttons have.

 

We also sorted pom poms.  They could sort them by size or color.  Once they finished sorting their tray of pom poms, it was easy to switch with somebody else at the table.  Next year, I'd like to add the shiny pom poms to this to give them another attribute to sort by!

Some students sorted by size...


Some sorted by color 


We also did some sorting with other types of attributes.  This is a sort based on whether food is healthy or not healthy.  There are several of these sorts in my Vocabulary Concept sorts, including some cut and paste sorts.

This game is called "What's Missing?" and it's a great way to get students to look at physical attributes and use them to figure out what is missing.  The student takes one object and hides it behind their back, and the other student has to figure out which object is missing.  I used foam shapes, buttons, crayons, red objects, numbers, and erasers for the different "What's Missing?" boards.  I just make sure the objects are related in some way.  



To make the trays, you can just take a plate or aluminum pan and separate it into 9 spaces.  I got fancy and taped straws to mine to make the separate spots, but a permanent marker works as well!  Then collect 9 related objects, put them on the pan or plate, and you've got a game!  

I hope you were able to find some engaging, useful ideas for teaching categorizing and sorting with your students!  Leave a comment with your favorite way to teach these skills!

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