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Sorting and Classifying Help Develop Strong Math Skills

Sorting and classifying are early elements of math.  Understanding patterns in general is the beginning of algebra. Young children can be taught to sort by color, shape, size, etc. They can learn to manipulate and create patterns. Practicing these skills can give your child a solid base for more challenging math.

Here are five simple ways to help your preschool or kindergarten child practice and become fluent in these basic mathematical skills.

  • Make it part of everyday life. Let your child help you unload and sort groceries from the bags. For example, put all soup cans together in one pile. Put pasta or fruit in another.
  • Incorporate sorting with cleanup time. All the blocks go into the yellow basket, all the puzzles on the shelf, etc. 
  • Play a matching game. Take a penny, a nickel, dime, and a quarter. Tape one of each at the top of separate pieces of construction or plain computer paper. Give your child a pile of mixed coins and let her specifically match each to the coins taped on the paper.
  • Play a sorting game. Separate Legos, for example, by color, size, or shape. Use colored blocks to make different patterns (yellow, blue, red, green, yellow, blue, etc.).
  • Have them sort their own laundry. When my children were in kindergarten, I put a small tan and a small brown laundry basket in the bottom of their closet. All the light-colored clothes went into the tan basket. All the dark-colored ones went into the brown basket. It was a great way to keep discarded clothes off the floor—and a big help when it was time to do laundry!


When doing these activities, be sure to talk together about why things belong in a certain group. By incorporating language while handling objects, children are able to describe the rationale of why the objects belong together for multisensory learning.

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