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A Guide to Fun and Easy Sorting Activities for Toddlers

written by: Sylvia Cochran • edited by: Jacqueline Chinappi • updated: 4/5/2012

Sorting activities for toddlers are one of the kids’ activities that have a host of learning applications. This accounts for the preschool games that focus on sorting and also stacking cups. Read on for some fun – and unexpected – sorting activities for toddlers.

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    The Importance of Sorting Activities for Toddlers

    Kids’ activities that focus on sorting or the use of stacking cups teach more than just quiet play. Sorting activities for toddlers prepare the youngster for honing their organizational skills and also help them to take a first foray into classification. Such preschool games set up pint sized students for future coursework and success in mathematics, music, chemistry, physics, and also biology – all fields that rely heavily on categorization.

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    Color Sorting

    These preschool games rely on the toddlers’ understanding of color differences. Use two big bowls, and place one red item in one bowl, and one blue item in the other. Explain that the object of the game is to fill one bowl with red items, and the other bowl with blue items. Strew about a number of differently colored objects, such as balls, blocks, toys, plastic Easter eggs or crayons.

    Such sorting activities for toddlers work best if the items you choose only feature a single color that is easily distinguishable from others. For example, pink and red may be easily confused by very young toddlers, while some shades of green and blue may also be a bit too difficult to discern. Avoid them during these kids’ activities.

    Bright Hub’s own Lindsay Evans wrote an article entitled “Green Christmas Toy Ideas: Green Gifts for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers.” Within she refers to a Tieramid Blocks, which are a perfect tool for this activity.

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    Shape Sorting

    Sorting by shapes works best with two bowls and two different kinds of shapes, such as balls and blocks. Teach the names for “square” and “round,” and then place one round object in one bowl, and one square object into the other. Ask the child to pick out the shapes from a blanket on which you have placed blocks and balls. This is one of the simplest preschool games that requires little preparation and also does not call for a lot of hardware.

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    For Older Toddlers: Kids’ Activities that Focus on Similarity

    Sorting activities for toddlers that center on similar items should start off slow at first. Use a large number of pictures or photos of a well loved animal, such as an elephant. Mix them with photos of something that is impossible to mix up with the elephant, such as photos of a plant. Sorting through the pictures, ask the children to place the elephant pictures into one bowl, and all the others into the other bowl.

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    Sorting Activities for Toddlers: Upping the Ante

    If you make sorting activities for toddlers a consistent portion of your preschool games, the kids in your care will soon be old hands at the sorting games. Up the ante by including stacking cups – to sort by size as well as by shape – and using kids’ activities that combine more shapes or colors than before.

    For example, if initially you relied on red and blue items, introduce yellow, green, and white as well. In the same vein, if you initially sorted photos of elephants and plants, add hippos and rhinos to the mix.