You can go for a walk (or likely just step a few feet outside) to gather some sticks, leaves, stones, flowers, etc. for these activities.
Matching and Sorting into categories
|a collection of leaves, ready for pairing|
|matching leaves to their leaf rubbing (also an art option!)|
Sorting objects into groups (also called "classifying") begins with simple tasks for 2-3 years old (ex: spoons vs. forks; cars or stuffed animals, sticks or leaves), and can be made increasingly more challenging as the child grows through their school years. Objects can be classified (sorted) by: size, shape, color, type, or other characteristics. Some ideas for categories:
- flowers, sticks, and leaves (sorting by type)
- types of coins (give them a handful of change to sort)
- types of beans/grains
It's great to take the same objects and see if your child can come up with more than one way to sort them. Some items can also be sorted with eyes closed or a blindfold to increase the challenge!
Comparing and sequencing
Children can compare two objects by different characteristics - which stick is longer? Which leaf is a darker green? Which object is heavier?
The next level of challenge is to put a group of objects in order. Examples - biggest to smallest, longest to shortest, darkest to lightest shade of a color, heaviest to lightest, roughest to smoothest. Here's some samples:
|Objects sequenced from heaviest to lightest|
|Objects collected by a child to sequence by length|
|Sequencing - putting sticks in order from longest to shortest|
Another form of sequencing is to create patterns. You can do this with anything around the house - legos, hair barrettes, dry beans, cereal, spoons & forks, etc. It also works great with things you find outdoors - different kinds of sticks, leaves, stones, flowers, etc.
|A simple alternating pattern|
|A more complicated pattern|