Simple preschool sorting activities you can do at home - Mama's Must Haves (2023)

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Sorting activities are a great way to teach your preschooler some essential early literacy and math skills. This skill focuses on categorizing, organizing, and noting similarities and differences in order by grouping objects that are similar. Sorting also helps children develop critical executive function skills. Plus, they will be learning about sizes, shapes, and colors, all of which are important preschool math concepts!

For ideas about how to practice this essential skill at home, keep reading.

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Here’s what we will cover in this article:

Simple preschool sorting activities you can do at home - Mama's Must Haves (1)

What are sorting activities for preschoolers?

Sorting activities are simply activities that require your little one to organize items based on similar characteristics or traits. There are many ways you can sort, but at this age, it’s all about keeping it simple. You’ll want to stick to sorting by only one characteristic at a time.

Why should children learn how to sort?

Preschool sorting activities are a great way to teach your child basic math concepts. Sorting is a key skill for preschoolers to learn as it helps them to understand and remember information. When children sort, they are classifying objects according to their attributes. This process helps children to make order out of the world and enables them to see relationships between things. Sorting is also a precursor to other math concepts such as counting, classifying, and comparing.

Early childhood mathematics includes counting and the application of counting; reading and representing simple numbers; mathematical activities concerning shape and mathematical activities concerning sorting, matching and comparing.

Lundqvist et al., 2021

According to Cindy Hovington, Ph.D. and Founder of Curious Neuron, sorting activities also help develop executive function skills (memory, attention, and problem-solving). It is stated that if children practice sorting activities in their preschool years, they are more likely to have better school performance and better math skills, specifically.

Sorting rules

“Sorting rules” are the rule that we use to sort similar items. For example, when you ask a child to sort a bunch of pom poms sort by color, the rule would be “sort all of the pom poms into the container of the matching color.”

I’ll elaborate on each type of sorting later in this post, but one of the easiest ways to sort is by color. You can start with a simple activity like sorting colored balls into different buckets. You can also sort different objects by color, like blocks, crayons, or even clothes.

Another way to sort is by size. This is a great way to help your child understand measurements. You can start with sorting balls or blocks by size, and then move on to sorting everyday objects like stuffies or books.

You can also sort by shape. This is a great way to help your child learn about geometry. Start with simple shapes like sorting circles, squares, and triangles. Then move on to more complex shapes like sorting stars, hearts, or animals.

Finally, you can sort by function. Another way to think of this. is sorting objects by what they do.

Also, engage them in the process by asking them how they would like to sort items! After all, they will have much more fun ‘doing it their own way‘ rather than just following the sorting rules you’re giving them.

Simple preschool sorting activities you can do at home - Mama's Must Haves (2)

Tips for sorting with preschoolers

Here are some top tips to help when you’re teaching sorting at this age:

  • Keep it simple! Only sort by one characteristic at a time
  • Use labels. Consider making labels (or printing ones from online) to help them organize. While this may not make sense for simple activities, it can help with things they need to organize routinely, like toys or clothes
  • Let them choose! Little ones love choice. Try asking them “how should we sort these?” or asking “should we sort them by color or size?” This gets them more engaged in learning.
  • Use concrete objects. When doing sorting activities for preschool learners, use things that they can hold and feel. This hands-on experience makes a big difference for most children.
  • Math talk as much as you can. Try using as much age-appropriate math talk as you can. Ask questions like “is this object bigger or smaller than the other?” to help develop math language and literacy skills
  • Make it relevant and practice it routinely. Sorting doesn’t just have to be with craft materials and toys. Toddlers can also learn sorting by helping out with sorting their clothes by figuring out where they should be put or sorting the dishes, for example

Sorting activities you can do at home

There are many preschool sorting activities that you can use to teach your child basic math concepts. As we mentioned, sorting is a great way to help your child understand patterns and relationships. But, it can also help develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination!

(Video) HOMESCHOOL ESSENTIALS | Preschool at home

Types of preschool sorting activities you can do at home:

According to MSU, toddlers can learn to sort by color, size, shape and function. Here are some simple ways to practice these types of sorting at home.

1. Color sorting

You can sort objects by their color. For example, you can sort a pile of balls by their color. Red balls go in one pile, blue balls go in another pile, etc. Make this more fun (while practicing gross motor skills) by asking them to throw or kick the balls into the correct spot based on color. If you do this, try setting up a hula hoop or a bin with the corresponding color labeled on it.

Color sorting games are a great way to introduce sorting, too, since according to Judith Hudson at Baby Center, kids have the ability to identify colors from the time they are about 18 months. At this time, they are also learning to identify size and shape. By the preschool age, though, they will be starting to learn color names.

Sorting colors is also quite easy since colored materials are everywhere! Young children can sort buttons, pipe cleaners, pom poms, or sorting beads by color, for example.

2. Size sorting

You can also sort objects by their size. For example, you can sort a pile of blocks by their size. The biggest blocks go in one pile, the middle-sized blocks go in another pile, and the smallest blocks go in another pile.

Be sure to make it clear which size is small, medium, or large by giving an example of an object that goes in each category. This gives the little one something to compare to. To do this you could either label three jars (“small,” “medium,” and “large”) and get them to drop items into the correct container, or you could have a page for each size if it’s something they can glue or stick down (like stickers).

3. Shape sorting

Another way to sort objects is by their shape. For example, if you have wooden geometric shapes, you can ask your little ones to sort the different shapes into piles. You might have round objects in one, triangle objects in another, and square objects in the last one.

Another idea is to make large shapes (either cut a piece of paper, draw the shape on the paper, or mark the shape on the floor with tape) and challenge your kiddo to find as many objects that match that shape from around the house. Classifying activities like this are great because they don’t require much prep!

5. Function sorting

Finally, you can sort objects by their function, or by what the objects are used for. When trying to teach children this sortinf rule, keep it super simple at first. Think of sorting by categories that they will easily understand, like “things we drink,” “things we eat,” or “things we wear.”

There are lots of pre-made cards and resources (like this free circle pictures by function worksheet) to help students sort items into categories. Or, if you have enough manipulatives, you could put pictures of the categories on containers and ask children to sort items.


We hope that you found some fun sorting activities and ideas for your prek learners to practice their math skills! By sorting objects into groups, your child can learn about quantity, order, measuring, and comparisons. These skills are essential for understanding more complex math concepts later on. So have fun sorting with your preschooler – it’s math time!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about preschool sorting activities.

How do you teach preschoolers how to sort?

Sorting activities for this age group should be kept super simple – One characteristic at a time! This means you could prompt your littles to sort by color, shape, or size… But not all three. Using cards with pictures or labels helps make sorting more concrete, too.

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What are sorting activities for preschoolers?

Essentially, sorting is all about looking for common attributes and categorizing items accordingly. This is a little different from matching (which asks them to put together two like items), and instead asks them to create groups.

Why are sorting activities important for preschoolers?

Sorting is a fundamental math concept that they will need to learn once they are in Kindergarten. It’s also a fundamental literacyTally mark worksheets (with free printable!) skill, too! In essence, sorting activities are a way to teach your child to notice similarities and differences and how to categorize items.


We’ve got lots of other math posts for young learners. Here are a few that you may enjoy!

  • Kindergarten math word problems
  • Number tracing worksheets (1-10)
  • Math concepts your children will learn in kindergarten
  • Money matters: Free preschool money worksheets
  • Tally mark worksheets (Free printable)
  • Ways to teach preschool math outdoors


This post references scholarly literature. Here’s who we gathered our information from:

Cindy Hovington, Ph.D. and Founder of Curious Neuron

Johanna Lundqvist, Karin Franzén & Ann-Charlotte Munter(2021)Early childhood mathematics: a case study,Early Years,DOI:10.1080/09575146.2021.2014404

Michegan State University, Early Childhood development: Sorting and classifying with infants and toddlers

Math for young learners

Math is one of many subjects your child will learn in school. Read about some of our favorite ways to teach and learn about math with preschool and kindergarten learners!

See all math posts

(Video) Resources, Books, and Activities for Preschool Learning


How can you help children to practice sorting easily? ›

Another way to encourage children to learn classifying and sorting is by sorting out toys, leaves, rocks or other similar items into 'like' groups, such as big/small, long/short, or colours, which also begins to develop some of the language that is needed for higher mathematical thinking in Pre-primary and year 1.

What are the activities of sorting? ›

A sorting activity – or grouping activity – is any activity that requires a child to identify what a number of items (whether pictures or objects) have in common. The child has to find the common property that forms a group or class of items.

How do you teach sorting activities? ›

To introduce sorting to early learners, begin with simple tasks, such as separating objects into only one category. For example, have them identify all the blue objects. As children become more comfortable and confident with organizing and grouping, additional classifications can be included.

Do at Home activities for preschoolers? ›

Music and movement
  • Freeze dance. A classic! ...
  • The sleeping song. Here are the short lyrics "Sleeping, sleeping, all the children are sleeping. ...
  • Indoor obstacle course. ...
  • Scavenger hunt. ...
  • Yoga for kids. ...
  • Copy dancing. ...
  • Make up a dance. ...
  • Story go-round.
21 Oct 2021

What skills do children learn from sorting? ›

Sorting and grouping things together is an important cognitive skill. It teaches your toddler to notice similarities and differences, learn to categorise, and develops early literacy and numeracy skills.

What are some real life examples of sorting? ›

For example:
  • The contact list in your phone is sorted, which means you can easily access your desired contact from your phone since the data is arranged in that manner for you. ...
  • While shopping on flip kart or amazon, you sort items based on your choice, that is, price low to high or high to low.

What are the 5 basis of sorting? ›

Write any five properties of materials which can be used as the basis of sorting. Solution : (i) Appearance (ii) Hardness (iii) Solubility (iv) Float or sink in water (v) Transparency.

What is sorting procedure give an example? ›

Sorting is the process of arranging the elements of an array so that they can be placed either in ascending or descending order. For example, consider an array A = {A1, A2, A3, A4, ?? An }, the array is called to be in ascending order if element of A are arranged like A1 > A2 > A3 > A4 > A5 > ? > An .

What is sorting small answer? ›

Sorting is a process in which items are arranged systematically. It has two common yet distinct meanings: Ordering: arranging items in a sequence, ordered by some criterion. Categorizing: grouping items with similar properties.

What skills does sorting teach? ›

Sorting helps children develop EXECUTIVE FUNCTION SKILLS, important brain skills that help with memory, attention and problem-solving. Research shows that the stronger these skills are when a child begins kindergarten, the more likely they are to perform better at school.

What do preschoolers learn from sorting? ›

In sorting objects, they separate them according to similarities and differences. When comparing, the children determine if an object has more or less of an attribute. Classifying and sorting activities help children to develop a range of thinking skills and build the foundations for later problem-solving.

How do you engage preschoolers at home? ›

Simple things like learning how to type, how to do simple cooking, doing basic cleaning around the house, or if you have an indoor pool – swimming. Schedule a routine to teach them new fun hobbies like playing the piano, drawing, or singing. Scrapbook is a fun collection of memorable moments.

How do I entertain my preschooler at home? ›

You've got this!
  1. Zoom around in cardboard race cars. Let your kids zoom through the living room in their very own race car. ...
  2. Make your own pinwheel. ...
  3. Make a calming jar. ...
  4. Play hide-and-seek. ...
  5. Play a game of hopscotch. ...
  6. Wash your car. ...
  7. Take lots of pictures. ...
  8. Play card games.
18 Nov 2020

What is the importance of sorting things at home? ›

Sorting common household items builds children's ability to see patterns, make connections, and form logical conclusions — all important skills for higher level, mathematical thinking.

What is the objective of sorting? ›

– First, sorting algorithms illustrate many creative approaches to problem solving and these approaches can be applied to solve other problems. – Second, sorting algorithms are good for practicing fundamental programming techniques using selection statements, loops, methods, and arrays.

What is sorting in Montessori? ›

Sorting is an activity toddlers begin to enjoy as they enter the sensitive period for order. In a world so big, order gives them a sense of control and comfort. One way toddlers create order is through categorizing, or sorting.

What is simple sorting? ›

Simple Sort Algorithm. Get a list of unsorted numbers. Repeat steps 3 through 6 until the unsorted list is empty. Compare the unsorted numbers. Select the smallest unsorted number.

How do you sort a collection of objects? ›

Collections class provides static methods for sorting the elements of a collection. If collection elements are of a Set type, we can use TreeSet. However, we cannot sort the elements of List. Collections class provides methods for sorting the elements of List type elements.

What are the 3 types of sorting? ›

The three types of basic sorting are bubble sort, insertion sort and selection sort.

What is quick sort example? ›

Example of Quick Sort:

Comparing 44 to the right-side elements, and if right-side elements are smaller than 44, then swap it. As 22 is smaller than 44 so swap them. Now comparing 44 to the left side element and the element must be greater than 44 then swap them. As 55 are greater than 44 so swap them.

What is the most common type of sorting? ›

Some of the most common sorting algorithms are:
  • Bubble Sort.
  • Insertion Sort.
  • Merge Sort.
  • Quick Sort.
  • Heap Sort.
  • Counting Sort.
  • Radix Sort.
  • Bucket Sort.
18 Jan 2020

Which is the easiest sorting technique? ›

Bubble Sort is the simplest sorting algorithm that works by repeatedly swapping the adjacent elements if they are in the wrong order.

What is the best method for sorting? ›

Choosing a Sorting Algorithm
Merge SortO ( n log ⁡ n ) O(n \log n) O(nlogn)Yes
Insertion SortO ( n ) O(n) O(n)Yes
Bubble SortO ( n ) O(n) O(n)Yes
QuicksortO ( n log ⁡ n ) O(n \log n) O(nlogn)Usually not*
2 more rows

What are the two types of sorting explain with an example? ›

Answer. Insertion Sort - A sorting algorithm which selects one element from the array and is compared to the one side of the array. Element is inserted to the proper position while shifting others. Quick Sort - A sorting algorithm which divides the elements into two subsets and again sorts recursively.

What are the steps in sorting? ›

Sorting by Multiple Columns
  1. Select the dataset > Click on the Sort option in the Data tab.
  2. Choose the Area column to sort.
  3. Select Cell Values under Sort On.
  4. Under Order, choose A-Z.
  5. Select Add Level, and choose the Agent column.
  6. Now sort on Cell Values and Order it by Z-A.
29 Jun 2022

How quick sort works step by step? ›

As a result, the quick sort method can be summarized in three steps: Pick: Select an element. Divide: Split the problem set, move smaller parts to the left of the pivot and larger items to the right. Repeat and combine: Repeat the steps and combine the arrays that have previously been sorted.

What comes first matching or sorting? ›

Matching and Sorting should be done first with identical objects, then with non-identical objects, as non-identical matching leads into later being able to sort items into categories.

How do you teach children to order? ›

The simplest way to start with ordering numbers is to teach how to sequence them in an ascending order. The numbers are getting bigger, and so 'ascending'. It is like going 'upwards'. However, this is not the only way numbers can be put in ascending order.

How can a sorting toy help a child's development? ›

The shape sorter allows your child to strengthen their hand-eye coordination, fine motor and problem-solving skills, as well develop their vocabulary knowledge (e.g. being able to identify and name shapes).

How children learn by playing with the sorting toy? ›

Sorting helps children develop EXECUTIVE FUNCTION SKILLS, important brain skills that help with memory, attention and problem-solving. Research shows that the stronger these skills are when a child begins kindergarten, the more likely they are to perform better at school.

How can I help my child be more organized? ›

10 tips to help get your child organized
  1. Break tasks into chunks. ...
  2. Make checklists and to-do lists. ...
  3. Teach calendar and time management skills. ...
  4. Establish daily routines. ...
  5. Introduce idea organizers. ...
  6. Use color-coding. ...
  7. Create fun memory aids. ...
  8. Create an organized work space.

How do I teach my 4 year old to sequencing? ›

Use sequencing words (such as first, then, next, last) often in your everyday questions and conversations with children. When they show you their Lego or block creation, ask them to describe how they made it. Discuss the sequence of events after reading a story.

Which learning style works best for most preschoolers? ›

Effective Teaching Styles For Preschool Learning
  • The Auditory Learner. Auditory learners are children who learn best through verbal communication, sounds, and music. ...
  • The Visual Learner. Children who are good visual learners excel at learning through their use of sight. ...
  • The Physical Learner. ...
  • Cross-Curriculum Teaching.
15 Dec 2017

What is sequencing for preschoolers? ›

Sequencing is understanding how a series of objects, events, and time occur in a specific and logical order. This is a very important concept for preschool children to develop, as it allows children to recognize patterns that make the world more understandable and predictable.

What kind of skill is sorting? ›

Sorting and classifying is a math skill children will need to master for future math learning. At a very early age, infants show us they know the difference between familiar and unfamiliar adults. One way to learn this skill is to show toddlers where certain toys go when it is time to clean up.

What type of skills improve as preschoolers play with small objects? ›

Fine motor skills describe a child's ability to use their small muscles, such as those in their fingers, hands and wrists, while coordinating with their eyes. These skills include tasks that require dexterity, control and strength, like holding small objects, buttoning clothes and writing.

What is an example of a toy that helps cognitive development? ›

Use a special blanket to play peek-a-boo. Playing peek-a-boo helps to increase cognitive development and is the beginning of creating problem-solving skills.

Which of the following skills is focused on sorting? ›

Develop vocabulary skills is focused on 'sorting'. Sorting means arranging the words as per their meaning and usage.

How many toys should a toy rotation have? ›

Depending on the age of your child, we've found around 8-10 total toys or activities in a playroom to be the perfect number for a toy rotation. If you have another 10 or so in storage that will plenty for a toy rotation, as you don't need to rotate every toy each time you swap them out.

What is the importance of sorting objects? ›

Grouping of objects together with similar properties is called sorting. The materials can be grouped on the basis of similarities or differences in their properties. Disposal: For proper disposal of objects, it is important to sort them into groups of biodegradable and non-biodegradable substances.

How do you keep a group of children under control? ›

How to Discipline Groups of Children
  1. Create a positive, stimulating environment. Children who are bored or put down will misbehave. ...
  2. Keep calm! ...
  3. The key is practice, practice, practice. ...
  4. Be clear and consistent. ...
  5. Keep the wording positive.

How can parents and children to be Organised? ›

A few ways you can help your child stay focused are: let them play, walk, cycle or do chores before sitting to study; keep them away from distractions such as cellphones and TV; make a to-do list; play 'beat the clock' with them; and let them take breaks in between schedules.


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