Teaching kids to create rules for organizing things is called sorting. Here are 8 tools to teach sorting to kindergartners including printables, online games and a song.
Plus, I’ll show you how we’ve used this skill later in the school year to organize thinking in math journals.
I came up up with the idea for sorting mats because I had kinders that needed visuals to go with the different ways we sort.
They needed a picture to go with the words “sort by shape” or “sort by vertices.” Using icons was a great starting place and made the workmats really successful.
These sorting mats are a free download. You can get them today and print as many as you need.
I laminated them and added a comb to the top so each student in a small group had their own booklet of 4 sorting mats. Then I added a graph to the back so they could take their sorted piles and organize their “data” to analyze as well in some lessons.
Teach Sorting: Puzzles and Bingo
There is sorting… and then there is looking at how some objects have already been sorted and identify how they’ve been sorted. This additional skill is included in most sorting standards in kindergarten.
This can be a trickier concept for some kinders.
I have had a group that really struggled with this so I needed new ways to practice the concept. I turned what we did with the sorting mats into a puzzle and bingo game!
The large 2-piece puzzles were just enough to get them trying to figure out the sorting rule and look at what the sorted items had in common.
The bingo game mat practiced recognizing how objects were sorted. Bingo is so classic and it works!
Online Sorting Games
Since I’ve found a lot of free, interactive online games for resources like CoolKindergarten and my computer-based products for kids – I’ve got a few sorting games in my arsenal. Practicing sorting online may be the additional practice some students need to master the skill.
Sorting By Color – Sort the objects into 5 color boxes. A simple click and drag activity.
Sort By Color, Shape and Size – Students sort based on the category given. Includes a “how-to” intro section which is helpful.
Sorting With Hampshire – A fun way to sort into multiple categories. Watch a little “setting the scene” scenario first and then sort using a labeled Venn diagram like “numbers/red/fruit.”
Sorting With Oscar – Students look for ways to group like objects from Oscar’s trash pile and sort them onto shelves.
Sorting Bottle Caps With Bert – Sort out Ernie’s mess of Bert’s bottle caps with this Venn diagram version. Bert tells which categories belong where.
Teach a Sorting Song
I’m a fan of singing to teach in kindergarten. When I taught a lesson whole group on sorting and then again in small groups, I’d use the same song to reinforce the language of “sorting” and “sorting by (category).” This little sorting song – or diddie is easy to sing or hum while students are working away.
Why Teach Sorting
Why is sorting even important to teach in kindergarten?
An application of this whole idea shows up later in the year once my students were past just sorting by shape, size, color, etc. It shows up in the organization of their work in their math journals. No kidding.
And while I do know that sorting leads to graphing, seeing connections and analyzing data too – I don’t want them to lose the simple idea that they can organize their work based on the same principles they used to sort manipulative objects.
Here’s an example of how I had students sort shapes by the number of vertices in their math journals. The application is stepping away from using manipulatives (it’s not even just a cut and paste activity). They decide how their pieces should get glued on – in order to show how like items go together – showing their sorting work at a higher level.
I hope these tools and resources make it easier for you to teach sorting this year and for your kinders to master it.
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