1. Sorting Tray (UK) / 2. Nienhuis Sorting Tray Small (UK) / 3. 3-Compartment Sorting Tray with Handles / 4. Wooden Sorting Tray (Australia) / 5. Compartment Wood Sorting Tray / 6. Compartment Wood Sorting Tray / 7. Round Willow Sorting Tray / 8. Carved Wooden Sorting Tray / 9. Three Section Wood Tray / 10. Two-Section Sorting Dish / 11. Flower Sorting Tray (Australia) / 12. Clean Egg Carton / 13. Paint Palette / 14. Plastic Circular Sorting Tray (Australia here) / 15. Counting Tray (Australia) / 16. Muffin Tray / 17. Ice Tray / 18. Wood Serving Tray / 19. 5 Section Acacia Wood Serving Tray.
I love Montessori inspired activities that are really easy to do at home! Sorting activities are easy to prepare and are fantastic for developing visual discrimination, coordination, and concentration. I always think it is best if the sorting is purposeful. For example, you have a tray of buttons to sort into colours, rather than sorting just for the sake of it. However, some children, especially during the sensitive period for order, may enjoy a prepared sorting activity. Many children enjoy colour sorting activities! Sorting trays are very useful (and often very beautiful) however, depending on the activity a muffin tray, paint palette, ice tray or egg carton may be suitable.
Some of our favourite items from around the home for sorting include;
- dried pasta
- dried beans
- glass tiles/beads
- coloured blocks
- natural items such gum nuts, seed pods or shells
Children can also do the transferring work with small tongs (start with some mini tongs) or even some automatic chopsticks. Always supervise your child and don't present small items if they are still putting things in their mouth.
With my children I always set up their sorting activities based on what I thought they might be ready for or interested in. The older the child the more complex the activity can be. I remember Otis loving a sorting activity at his toddler class with beautiful glass tiles all in different shades of green and blue. It was really difficult for him but he enjoyed the challenge of sorting the shades and looking at them for some time and comparing them. Sorting can also be interesting for language development - you can name the different varieties of beans, pasta or shells you are presenting!
If you are in Australia you might be interested in The Natural Resoucer (new to me!) which has lots of gorgeous natural items (loose parts) and sorting boxes! This article on transferring has some nice examples of sorting work too!