Sorting is one of the basic cognitive skills that we want kids to develop during their early years. Sorting is an important skill because it requires kids to be able to categorize and group objects by particular characteristics. In fact, kids begin learning to sort and categorize objects from a young age. Much of this practice comes through everyday life experiences. For example, when children help to put their own clothes away after the laundry has been done, they get to practice sorting pants, t-shirts, and socks.
From the time my kids were little I have given them a variety of sorting activities to work on basic sorting skills. They are now very adept at completing basic sorting tasks, so I though it was time to up the challenge a bit by introducing some more advanced categorization tasks that involve sorting with Venn diagrams.
Note: For more kid-friendly math activities, see my Math Activities for Kids page.
You may remember Venn diagrams from when you were in school. They generally look like two interconnected circles. The idea is to categorize items into groups that are not mutually exclusive. The end result is a diagram that makes it clear how objects are both different and similar to each other.
For example, I used the frogs from our Frogs on a Log Counting Kit. In the left circle, I wrote “red frogs” and in the right circle I wrote “bumpy frogs.”
I then gave her a pile of frogs that were either red, bumpy, or both. (All of the frogs had to be either red or bumpy. None of the frogs were not red and not bumpy so that all would fit on the diagram.)
After reading the labels and ensuring she knew what each meant, she began sorting the frogs. Instead of sorting randomly, she decided to start by finding all the frogs that were both red and bumpy.
Then she sorted the frogs that were just red (but not bumpy).
Then she sorted the frogs that were bumpy (but not red).
Here is what the end result looked like.
I later did a similar activity with my son. In his case, I asked him to sort shapes from our Learning Resources Attribute Blocks set. I gave him a Venn diagram with the left circled labeled “red shapes” and the right circle labeled “triangles.”
Because my son is at a more advanced level, I added an extra challenge by providing him with some objects that didn’t fit into either of the circles. Hence, you’ll see he put the yellow and blue non-triangles at the top of the tray rather than into one of the circles.
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Looking for more hands-on activities that incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM)? Then you’ll love STEAM Kids! This book features 52 hands-on activities are helpfully identified by category (science / technology / engineering / art / math) so you know exactly what skills your kids are developing.
More resources for teaching math
More math activities from Gift of Curiosity:
- Building a 3D rainbow measurement activity
- Adding with chain links
- Matching and ordering by size
- Teaching combinations of 10
- Estimating an apple’s circumference
- Introduction to probability
- Math practice with numbered dice
- Put the numbers on the clothesline
- Road numbers