Activity: Sorting for Toddlers
- Toys that can be grouped into categories
- 15 minutes
- Sorting & classifying
What do toddlers know about grouping and sorting? Surprisingly, a lot! Even by seven months or so, infants can tell the difference between pictures of animals and humans, and furniture and animals. By the time toddlers are approaching their second birthday, their ability to categorize has grown tremendously. Depending on their experience with the big wide world, they can tell the difference between dogs and birds, chickens and ducks, and dinosaurs and horses. Learning to group and sort is highly dependent on experience—children who have experiences with ducks and chickens (pictures, farm and pond visits) learn how to differentiate these two birds earlier than those who do not. Follow your child’s interests and help him explore this fun learning experience!
Play a sorting game with your child’s own toys. Familiar categories might be dogs, cats, farm animals and those exciting jungle animals (wow, an elephant!). Talk with your child about all the places you’ve seen dogs and any dogs you know. Think about the stuffed animals in the toy box, the animals she’s seen in story and picture books, trips to the zoo, walks around the block and trips in the car. Sometimes the dogs have names—especially favorite stuffed animals, neighborhood dogs and dogs found in picture books—and sometimes they don’t. Either way, you can talk about what kind of dog it is and play a game by sorting all of these various dogs into categories. This can be based on color (black, white), overall size (big, small), size of tail or legs (long, short) or even breed (dachshund, poodle). Have fun coming up with your own categories!
More ideas for building toddler skills:
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