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3 min read

Sometimes our children's behaviour can seem odd.But when we look at it from from a developmental perspective, it's often very easy to understand why they do what they do.Suddenly... strange actions make sense:

  • Carrying around heavy objects is because of a child's drive to do maximum effort work
  • Wanting to grab the broom from you every time you sweep is because they see you, the important adults in their life, value this activity
  • Pushing small objects into the open holes of containers, known as posting, is a skill most young children show an interest in starting at 7-8 months, as a way to develop their fine motor skills


You can see this is the pic here of my youngest finding wood chips and putting them into an empty water bottle.

Have You Noticed Your Child Do This?

Have you seen your child line up their toys in a row, play bad guys vs. good guys, or sort their 'treasures' into piles?

These are all classifying activities.

Children do these activities because of their natural desire to make sense and create order in their world.

And while this can seem like frivolous play or an unnecessary distraction, this is serious work for a child.

Classifying not only helps them make sense of an often confusing and strange world, it's also a foundational math skill.

It helps them to understand concepts like counting, comparing quantities, and identifying patterns.

7 Classifying Activities That You Can Do At Home

There are opportunities for simple classification activities everywhere.

Gather stones next time you’re at the beach and sort them by size, shape, texture, etc., gather fallen leaves and sort by type/shape or colour, gather some acorns and pine cones and sort them into their categories, etc.

All you need to do is simply follow and encourage your child's natural interest in classifying and sorting.

Here's 7 fun ways to classify objects:

Colour - click here to download our "Intro to Colour Sorting" sheet

Size - click here to download our "Intro to Size Sorting" sheet

Category - fruit or vegetable, kitchen or bathroom, indoor clothes or outdoor clothes, etc.

Weight - Light vs. Heavy

Sink or Float - click here to download our "Sink Vs. Float Sorting" sheet

Shape - click here to download our "3D Sorting" sheet

Texture - soft vs. hard

The suggestions above can be made harder or easier by adding/removing the number of objects being sorted or the number of categories you're sorting by, i.e. sort by 2 colours or sort by 8 colours.

More Complex Sorting

In Montessori, as the child grows they learn to classify in more complex ways. For instance, by:

  • land, sea or air
  • vertebrates and invertebrates
  • living vs. non-living
  • animals by continent

Wait... Before You Correct

If you introduce a sorting activity (or watch your child naturally begin sorting objects), pay close attention to the characteristic they’re choosing to sort by.

It might not be the obvious one you're thinking of - i.e. colour, size, etc.

Before correcting them or intervening, observe and see if they’re finding their own patterns.

For example, when given a basket of fruits and vegetables, the purpose may be to simply sort them into their different categories, i.e. fruit or veg, but a child may choose to sort them differently, i.e. by colour, shape, or even whether they like them or not.

I can recall a time my 5 year old was putting his cars into two rows. He informed me that he sorting them by whether or not the windows were clear.

What a wonderful detail that I didn't even notice!

A big part of a Montessori educators job is observation. Not only does this help the teacher to meet each child's individual needs, it also helps them to see all the small moments of learning and development that are happening.

At home, you can do the same. If your child is quietly concentrating or problem solving (and not asking for help), this is the perfect time to sit back and simply watch.

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