Colour sorting is an early numeracy skill I hear you say? That’s right, it is! And here’s why…
The ability to classify things is a key aspect of numeracy. Classifying is a fancy word for sorting where you find things that are the same and group them based on specific traits. Sorting by shape, size or colour, as examples, helps children to make sense of their world and develop logical thinking skills. Learning to sort by colour is a first step towards a while range of classifying that leads to classifying numbers in the primary years.
The Flisat table from IKEA that we used for this activity provides the perfect base for sorting into 2, 3 or 4 containers depending on how you set it up. Here we have begun by sorting between two colours, but by simply switching the large trays for 4 small trays you could increase the number that you work with.
You will find during your observations with children that they are likely to develop a natural interest for sorting, usually when they are either within the positioning schema for play or when they are learning colour names.
To set up this activity you will need to fill the the tray with coloured bases. I used small pebbles from Bunnings to do this, however you could simply use pieces of card/paper or material. The next step is to find toys from your play space in the colours you have chosen. This is a great opportunity for the children to help as they will find the scavenger hunt a lot of fun! Put these toys in a seperate container and then you could either sort a couple of toys first as an example, or simply leave the children to discover the sorting part of the activity for themselves.
Early Years Learning Framework
Outcome 5 - Children are effective communicators
5.4 - Children begin to understand how symbols and pattern systems work
This Activity is for:
Children who are showing interest in sorting
Children who are learning colour names
Encourage children to:
Name the colours
Sort both on their own and through working in small groups
Find and fix colours in the wrong tray
Extend on this by:
Using smaller trays and 3 or 4 colours to sort
Simplify this by:
Using less toys to sort
Using paper as a base instead of rocks