Sorting Material

Early Years (Age 3 – 6)

Curriculum Goal

Kindergarten: Demonstrating Literacy and Mathematics Behaviour

  • Describe, sort, classify, build, and compare two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional figures, and describe the location and movement of objects through investigation (#17).


  • Students and teacher will be sitting on the carpet in a circle.
  • Students will be working in pairs.


  • Different sets of materials (counters, small bears, buttons, etc.)
  • One set for each pair


  • Students will be working in pairs, with each pair assigned one type of material.
  • Tell students that they are to sort that material by one characteristic in whichever way they choose.
  • As children are sorting the materials, go around to each pair and ask how they sorted the material.
  • Give students the language by saying you sorted by colour or you sorted by size or you sorted by shape.
  • Ask students how many groups they made.
  • Then ask students to sort the materials using a different characteristic.
  • When students have finished sorting ask them to explain to the group what characteristics they sorted by.

Look Fors

  • How do children work together to sort the materials?
  • Can they verbalize the characteristic they used? 
  • Are there any unique ways children divide materials into groups? Are they able to divide materials into a new way using a different characteristic?


  • Take away one group from the sorted material and ask students to re-sort their material using a different characteristic.
  • Challenge students by having them try this activity with two different materials together.

Related Lessons

Foster students understanding of sorting objects by various characteristics.

Students practice identifying the sorting characteristics among two groups.

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