Sorting in Kindergarten

One of the first big math units we teach at the beginning of the year is Sorting.  I find that students naturally gravitate to sorting all kinds of things in the classroom on a daily basis anyways!  For instance, they sort toys when cleaning up, place crayons by colour in the basket, blocks are sorted by size, etc.

Whenever I teach sorting, I like to provide opportunities for students to tell me how they think we can form groups of similar things rather than just give them a sorting rule.
Since I want to find ways to grab their attention, we start by sorting things hands-on!
I scatter a variety of "beautiful junk" in the  middle of our circle -> buttons, feathers, plastic animals, cork, whatever you have!!!  I also place a variety of baskets and muffin tins to use to sort.
I ask students to think of ways we can group the items...and I listen to their response.

I made a large QR codes poster that I display near my computer/iPad centre which has links to lots of fun, free online games for students to play all about sorting!
You can also use these online games as a while group lesson to reinforce a sorting rule!

Then we sort ourselves!  I lay out 2-3 mats and have students move to a spot based on their answer.  For instance: girls/boys, JK/SK (Pre-K/K), brown hair/blonde hair/red hair/black hair, shoes with Velcro/laces/slip on, etc.

If you don't already own this book, it's a MUST for teaching sorting!  A little mouse finds many ways to sort his beautiful junk and I love how students can chime in on each page and figure out how he does it!

As I introduce a sorting rule, I show students the corresponding poster.  I like to leave these up on my easel (or Math Wall) and refer back to them often during our unit.

We start by introducing (formally) the sorting rule "I Can Sort by Colour".
I like to use these sorting mats along with Unifix cubes, coloured teddy bear counters, or anything else you may have!

I scatter a variety of attribute blocks on the floor along with 2-3 hula hoops.  As I place a shape inside the hula hoop, I ask students if they can figure out how I sorted.  I invite students to come up and continue to sort the shapes.
In small groups, I use the sorting mats to reinforce the rule.
Sometimes I find it very overwhelming for students to see a variety of shapes in front of them so I narrow it down to only 2-3 shapes and ask them to sort those out.

When we focus on sorting by size, I like to pull out my plastic animals.  I bought a bunch over the years from Dollarama which tend to by a bit larger, as well as Toobs from Michaels, which are smaller.  
(If you don't have plastic animals, I have included a variety of cards to print and use.)
Again, I start by asking students how they think we can sort - and you will get a bunch of answers! - then I begin sorting, without talking, by size and see if anyone can figure out my rule.

I love using real buttons to sort!  They offer such a variety of ways to sort for students (i.e., holes, colour, shape, size, shiny/not shiny, patterns/no patterns, etc.).  
I scatter a bunch of buttons in the middle of my carpet.

After we do this activity, I read the story The Button Box.  A boy discusses the many different buttons his grandmother has given him and finds different ways to sort them out.  
*The reason I read the book after the lesson is because I want students to think of ways they can sort without the book giving them away.  I also love to hear students say, "Oh, that's the same way I sorted the buttons!" as we read.
We practice using these button sorting mats in small groups.

After we practice sorting by colour, shape, size and button holes, I like to play this interactive game on the Bright Links Board:
You can click on the picture above to play or here:

Now we are ready to learn more challenging ways to sort:  animals (land/water/sky), living/non-living, letters/numbers, uppercase/lowercase, etc.
Students love these because I make a big deal saying these are what Grade 1 students do!

We use these cards to match the sorting rule with the picture.

I discovered these attribute apples last year from the Scholastic Classroom Essentials catalogue.  They are a perfect tool for hands-on practice!

The apples come in 3 colours, different sizes, and some with a worm or leaf on them!
Sorting in so many ways!!!
 I scatter them around the table in my small group lesson and listen as to how students sort them.
You can also find them on Amazon.

All of our documentation goes up onto our Math Wall:

Another favourite online game to play is "This and That Shop" on TVOkids.
(This game seems to have been removed by check out other videos and games from TVOKids)
Click on the above picture or here to play:

You can find all of these activities (and so much more!) in my Sorting in Kindergarten pack on TpT.

Here are my 2 weeks of lesson plans for teaching sorting.
Feel free to click below to download your copy for free!!!

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