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Family Math Activity: Sorting with Shapes

A sheet of blue paper with colorful cut outs of different shapes on it surrounded by crayons and a pair of green scissors.
Shapes can be sorted in so many ways! Color, shape and size are just a few ways to get sorting. | Yesenia Prieto
In this hands-on activity, children practice sorting a group of items in many different ways.
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Esta actividad también está disponible en español.

Sorting helps young children aged 2-5 years old make sense of the world around them. Children are constantly collecting and sorting objects they see in their surroundings based on their color, size, shape, texture, smell and how we use them. In this hands-on activity, children will practice sorting a group of items in many different ways.

Learning Goal

This activity will help your child:

  • Practice sorting a group of items in many different ways
  • Identify shapes regardless of their size or orientation

Materials

Colorful sheets of paper, index cards, scissors, crayons and markers are laid out on a table.
All you need for this activity is some paper, scissors, a writing utensil to decorate with and imagination. | Yesenia Prieto

  • Construction paper, cardboard or an empty cereal box
  • Crayons, markers or a pencil
  • Scissors
  • Index cards

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Help your child draw four triangles, two circles, two squares and two rectangles of different sizes. Make your triangles different from each other by drawing sides of equal and different lengths. To make an equilateral triangle, make sure all the sides are the same length. A scalene triangle has sides of all different sizes, while an isosceles triangle has two equal sides. You can draw the shapes on a cereal box, construction paper, index cards or any other material you have at home.

2. Have fun coloring your shapes with crayons, markers or a pencil.

3. Cut out the shapes and spread them out on a flat surface for easy sorting.

4. Look at the collection of shapes together and talk about the different attributes you notice. Ask your child, "Are the shapes the same size?" "Are all your shapes round, or do some of them have corners?" and "Are your shapes in different colors?"

5. Sort the shapes by shape type. Use the index cards to make a label for the types of shapes you sorted. Count how many of each shape there are.

A blue sheet of paper with colorful shapes on top of it. An index card with the word "Shape" on it is below it.
The shapes can be sorted by their type. | Yesenia Prieto

6. Sort the shapes by color. Use the index cards to make a label for the colors you sorted. Count how many shapes of each color there are.

A blue sheet of paper with shapes of different colors on top of it grouped by color. An index card below them reads "color."
Next is sorting the shapes by color. | Yesenia Prieto

7. Sort the shapes by size. Use the index cards to make a label for the sizes you sorted. Count how many big and small shapes there are.

A blue sheet of paper holds different shapes that are grouped based on their sizes. An index card below reads "size."
It's time to sort big and small shapes into different groups. | Yesenia Prieto

8. Talk with your child about all the ways you sorted the collection of shapes. Can you think of other ways you can sort them?

Keep the Conversation Going

  • Watch this video clip of PBS KIDS’ “Peg + Cat.” In the clip, Peg and Cat work together to clean Peg's room by sorting objects.
  • Take out two forks, two spoons and two butter knives and mix them all together. Have your child sort them by their type.
  • As you are folding laundry, ask your child to sort the items of clothing by color or size. Have them match up the socks with you.

Book Suggestions

 Book cover of “Sort it Out!” written by Barbara Mariconda and illustrated by Sherry Rogers
Book cover of “Sort it Out!” written by Barbara Mariconda and illustrated by Sherry Rogers

 "A Pair of Socks" written by Stuart J. Murphy and illustrated by Lois Ehlert
Book cover of "A Pair of Socks" written by Stuart J. Murphy and illustrated by Lois Ehlert

Book cover of "Opuestos: Mexican Folk Art Opposites in English and Spanish" written byCynthia Weill, with wood sculptures from Oaxaca by Quirino y Martín Santiago
Book cover of "Opuestos: Mexican Folk Art Opposites in English and Spanish" written by Cynthia Weill, with wood sculptures from Oaxaca by Quirino y Martín Santiago

Corresponding Standards

Preschool Learning Foundations

  • AF.1.1. Sort and classify objects by one attribute into two or more groups, with increasing accuracy.
  • PK.1.1 Identify, describe, and construct a variety of different shapes, including variations of a circle, triangle, rectangle, square, and other shapes.

Common Core State Standards

  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.MD.B.3. Classify objects into given categories; count the numbers of objects in each category and sort the categories by count.
  • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.G.A.2. Correctly name shapes regardless of their orientations or overall size.
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