Sorting, Comparing and Classifying in Juniors!

In Junior Infants, we have been working hard on sorting, comparing and classifying activities. Come into our classroom and see our efforts on the walls!

There are many websites online which are great for reinforcing learning taught in school.

Here are some suggestions:


Some information on sorting, classifying and comparing (taken from

Highlight one characteristic in a large group of items. Once your child is familiar with the basic concept of grouping items together based on a common characteristic, introduce a large group of two items that differ in only one key attribute. For example, you may give your child a bowl of two cereals that have different colors but the same shape (Kix and Cocoa Puffs or Fruit Loops and Apple Jacks) and direct him to sort them according to the color. Or, you could give your child a group of salad and dinner forks and ask him to sort them according to size. Naming the defining characteristic for your child (such as color or size) will help guide your child in this beginning sorting activity.

Set out two empty bowls next to the large pile of items, which will give your child the clue that he needs to sort the pile of items into only two different groups. To help him get started, pick one item from the pile and put it in the first bowl and pick a second (different) item and put it in the second bowl.

Ask leading questions. After you have sorted two of the items into different bowls, pick up a third item and hand it to your child. As he examines it, ask him, “Which bowl does that one go in?” After your child has made his choice, ask him why he picked the bowl that he did.

As your child explains his classification method, encourage him to use descriptive words that refer to the item’s color, shape, size, texture, or whatever the defining characteristic happens to be. If your child incorrectly sorted the item, call his attention to the defining attribute (color, size, etc.) and let him try again to put the piece in the correct bowl.

Introduce more characteristics. When your child is comfortable sorting objects based on an obvious characteristic (such as color), challenge him to sort a more diverse group of items.

With a larger group of items, your child will need to make a decision about which characteristic to use to define the groups. For instance, you could have a group of blocks in two different sizes and two different colors. Your child will need to decide whether color or size will be the determining factor when sorting into two groups. Buttons are great for this purpose since they have two or four holes, come in a variety of colors, can be made of wood, metal or plastic, and can be square, circular or oblong. Also, buttons are sold inexpensively and in bulk at most craft or fabric stores.

As your child begins sorting the items into two different bowls, encourage him to discuss his reasoning behind each decision. Did he choose to sort based on color and put all red buttons in one bowl and all the remaining buttons in a different bowl?  Or is he putting all circular buttons in one bowl and all the oddly shaped buttons in a different bowl?  As your child articulates his sorting method, he will be honing important analytical and expressive reasoning skills.

When your child has finished sorting all the items, consider asking him to re-sort the same group of items in a different way. For example, if he initially sorted the items by size, he could sort by color or texture when sorting the same items again. Since your child already sorted the items correctly one time, re-sorting them a second time will be an added challenge.

Incorporate sorting into everyday activities. Everyday activities present wonderful opportunities for sorting. As you fold laundry, ask your child to sort his clean clothes into three piles – shirts, pants and underwear. Or, when cleaning up at the end of the day, ask him to sort his toys into two bins based on a particular characteristic such as noisy toys in one bin and quiet toys in another or rolling toys (vehicles and balls) in one bin and non-rolling toys (stuffed animals and puzzles) in another.

For older children, try the same sorting activities but do not give your child guidance about how to sort the specific items. Perhaps he will sort the clothes into the obvious groups by putting the pants in one pile and the shirts in another. Or he could sort them by color or by daytime vs. nighttime wear. When your child is done sorting, look at his piles with him and ask him to explain his reasoning to you.

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