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Sorting and Collecting: Curiosity Corner

While doing laundry, a family talks about sorting socks.
Doing the laundry will become the perfect opportunity to talk about sorting.
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“No Daddy!” say Celia and Eliana with upset voices.

Jesse is putting beans on their dinner plates and isn’t sure what is wrong.

“Girls, you like beans,” says Jesse. “I’m putting them on your plate so you can eat them for dinner.”

Both girls look at their plates again and frown.

“I don’t like white beans, I want red ones!” says Celia.

“Me too!” agrees Eliana.

Math quote "The girls' preference for red beans over white beans shows their ability to distinguish beans by color and taste"

The girls’ preference for red beans over white beans shows their ability to distinguish beans by color and by taste. And their ability to talk about these differences helped Jesse understand why they were upset. This story is a great example of how young children’s ability to distinguish between objects involves both their abilities to:

  • Recognize objects as same or different based on their attributes and
  • Use words to describe their groups

Know the Learning Sequence for Early Sorting

Children learn about the big ideas of sorting in stages. For example, a child will recognize that two objects are similar in one attribute before they recognize that the objects are similar in two attributes. These stages can be quick or last for some time, and children do not always master one stage before moving onto the next.

The picture below shows a general sequence of stages that children move through as they learn to sort.

Math sorting stages quote: comparing, grouping single attribute, different attributes and multiple attributes.

Keep in mind that every child is different and will learn at their own pace, so don’t worry if your child is not at a particular stage yet. However, always talk to your preschool teacher or doctor if you have specific concerns for your child.

Next, we’ll share ideas on what you can do to help your children learn to sort at home.

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Your Progress

4/7: Math is discovered and learned throughout our daily lives, in the context of home, stories, games, art projects, and chores.

Family Math progress pie chart four