Sorting, Classifying and Making Sense of School Activities

venn diagram.schoolThe school year is underway! Children all over the country are making new friends, learning new school systems and applying their critical thinking skills to make sense of their school environments.  One of the most natural way for children to do this is to sort and classify things.

My K/1 students were asked, “What kinds of work do you like to do at school?” This general question ties in with the year’s overarching Social Studies unit – WORLD OF WORK.

After some think time, on a square piece of paper they drew their favorite activity. Common favorites were lunch, P.E., science and making new friends. Then, children sat in a circle on the rug and began to sort and classify their picture cards by activities, things done inside, outside and both inside and outside.

fav activity cards

What I found most fascinating, was that this lesson was not explicitly called a “math/sorting/classifying” activity. Through lots of dialogue and open ended questions, they naturally sorted and classified – an important math skill that is weaved in many different academic disciplines.

One of the open ended questions was, “Where else do you sort or put things in order by groups?

Some of the answers were:

My dad does his own laundry, so me and my mom sort our own shorts and stuff.”

“I sort my toys when I clean up.”

Then a little one said with much excitement as he had a light bulb moment, “Oh, at the grocery store! All the fruits are together.”  After this discovery, other students said…

“Paleontologists sort dinosaurs by sizes.”


“At school we put things back where they belong.”

They had lots to share and were eager to explore. It was really exciting to see them making such huge connections to both the outside world and their school environment.

It’s already a great start to a great school year!