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Matching or Sorting - Using a Compartment Tray or Muffin Tin

Butterfly model matching using wooden tray at How we Montessori Otto 22 months

Matching activities are pretty standard in Montessori but have you ever tried matching or sorting using a compartment tray or muffin tin? I've found it a lot easier to work with my toddler this way. 

My toddler (22 months) has progressed nicely through matching and sorting work. We have had success in object to object, object to image and image to image matching however we have mostly used objects that are very different visually, like a model cow and sheep, or garbage truck and digger. The matching activities shown here are with objects with more subtle differences. 

What I've found is that the tray keeps the work together. It's easier for me to set it up, I put all the objects in, and work with my toddler. The tray makes it easier to see all the work at once and makes it easier to reach. For the young toddler if feels like the tray guides the child on what to do, rather than play he knows this is sorting. While I'm happy to do large work and have our materials spread out, I like how this keeps the materials contained too.

The tray or a muffin tin also works well when sorting lots of objects like colour matching. Above we have used two sets of model butterflies and below are shells and other sand creatures. If your child just straight out doesn't like matching activities don't worry. I know that our activities have to be very specific, they have to capture my toddler's imagination, he doesn't like them all, he likes the details in the butterflies but otherwise likes matching animals including insects and vehicles like different types of diggers or tractors. It's the theme that has the biggest impact on him.

Butterfly model matching using wooden tray at How we Montessori Otto 22 months

Sources: Wooden Sorting Tray, Butterflies, Shells & Sand Dollars, Small Woven Baskets

Related article: Montessori Sorting Trays and Ideas.

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