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Sorting and Collecting: Glossary

While doing laundry, a family talks about sorting socks.
Doing the laundry will become the perfect opportunity to talk about sorting.
Here are some key terms to remember when teaching your child about sorting.
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You can learn more about how to playfully build your child's skills for sorting objects based on attributes like color, shape and size in the Parent Workshop: Sorting and Collecting.

Terms for Parents

  • A set or a group is any collection of items grouped together in some meaningful way. For example, a set of "toys" for a child may include a stuffed animal, a rubber duck and a doll.
  • An attribute is a characteristic of an object like size, shape, color, texture, etc. For example, an attribute of a ball can be size, how big or small it is.
  • To classify or sort is to arrange objects into groups based on their attributes. For example, we can classify toy blocks into groups based on their shape (round or square) or color (red or blue). We can classify objects in more than one way.

Math Talk

The more you talk with your child about sorting, the more your child's sorting skills will grow. Here are some conversation starters to practice with your child:

  • "Will you help me separate light clothes from dark clothes?"
  • "Let's put away the clean socks. Can you find a sock that is exactly like this one?"
  • "Can you please arrange your shoes in pairs?"
  • "Can you sort your toys by color? Which group of toys has more? Which one has less?"
  • "Let's put the groceries away. Does the milk go in the fridge or in the pantry?"
  • "How is this cereal box different from this can of soup?"
  • "Do we have more apples or oranges?"
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Related Workshop

This article is part of our Sorting and Collecting workshop, which helps parents and caregivers playfully build children's ability to sort.