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.
An image linking to the sorting materials lesson

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.

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