Home School Life Journal

Home School Life Journal ................................................................................................................painting by Katie Bergenholtz

Sorting and Classifying: Application and Extension (Pre K-2)

Read My Mind
Read My Mind is a silent game in which a designated person sorts an assortment of colored shapes anyway he likes and everyone has to guess how he has sorted them. When one has guessed, he raises his hand. After everyone raises their hand, the first person who raised their hand gets to tell how he thinks they were sorted. If he is wrong, the next person who raised their hand gets to guess.

Quentin, 9/24/08

Sam & James, 2008
Quentin 2008
This game starts by asking your students to gather together a collection of stuffed toys (or any other set of toys that are similar.) One person would pick out one of them, but not tell the rest of us his choice. He then would give a descriptive clue, starting with the most vague clue, and getting more specific as the clues went on, until the choice could be picked out.

Sorting and Classifying Walks
Often when we take walks in the neighborhood, we will go on a math walk, changing the focus of the walk each time. We will decide in advance what we will be looking for, which will be determined by what they are working on in math. One time it might be to look for shapes, colors,  or for types of lines (diagonal, vertical and horizontal, curved, etc.). Another time it might be for things made of metal (or glass or wood or plastic), things that move, things that are rusty, signs, vehicles, textures, delicate things...etc. As you can see, the list goes on almost infinitely. Sometimes we take along with us paper and crayons and he can stop and sketch the various thing he find. He could also take photographs. He can make a book of them. Later walks, we wait until he gets back and he has to sketch the things we found from memory.

Sorting by Senses
You can have things laid out for him to sort according to taste, touch, smell or by sounds. For taste, you can have out examples of sweet, sour, spicy and salty. For touch, you can blindfold him and have him sort things by texture, weight, size or shape. For sounds, they can be loud or soft, near or far. They learn lots of new vocabulary by this type of sorting.

Name Claps
You can have your student clap out the syllables in the names of the people in their family or their friend's names. If they find this difficult, you can write the names on a white board and then write little hills to represent the hops the syllables make. Then clap them out together.

Geoboard Sorting Game
Ask you student to make a geometric shape, such as a triangle.  Have him draw it on Geoboard Dot paper. Can he think of another way of making that same shape? Have him make as many as he can and then sort the dot papers according to the type, size or orientation of the shapes. For example, if he made triangles, have him sort the dot papers so that all the small triangles are in one pile and all the large ones in another, or  have him sort them so that all the right triangles are in one pile and the other triangles in another. How many ways can he sort them?

Geoboard Paths
Put a cube on the bottom right-hand peg of the Geoboard and one at the top left-hand corner. The students trace a path from one cube to the other cube. Once they are satisfied with their paths, they can record them on Geoboard Dot paper. (Since my Geoboard has 6 pegs and the dot paper has 5 pegs, we decided not to use the outer pegs on the top and left-hand side and covered them with bands.) Other students can take one of the papers and copy the patterns.

Geoboard Arrow Game
For this game, you will need to make up a set of direction cards with arrows (see example in photos.) The students then find as many different ways as possible to follow one set of directions. Everyone who finds a different way can copy the pattern onto dot paper and pin the paper on a bulletin board or they can be made up into a book to record the different solutions.
Food Coloring
This is one I remember doing myself when I was small. Provide a package of food coloring and a large quantity of baby food jars or plastic cups. Ask them how many different colors they can make. They can dip a small piece of paper towel or coffee filter in each jar to record the color, if they wish to record their discoveries.

Another great game to play for sorting and classifying is Hullabaloo, which combines sorting with action.

source: Mathematics Their Way, Mary Baratta-Lorton


  1. Those games seem like a lot of fun, I think my kids would really get into them. I'm going to have to make some of the directional cards. I know my kids would love that. Who doesn't love a geoboard?


  2. Oh my goodness, Quentin looks so young there!

    1. Yes, the top couple of pictures are about four or five years old.


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. It means so much.