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Loving: Sorting and Classification Boxes + Why They Are Good for Cognitive Development

Montessori toddler sorting box at How we Montessori transportation box Otto 27 months

I haven't seen a sorting box like this for years. There was one in our Montessori toddler group in Canberra (Holder) but I don't remember much about it. I took a risk and ordered one for Otto (at 27 months). Luckily it was a hit, definitely worth it, and I can really see the benefits. It's fantastic for cognitive development which is so important in the first three years of life, including:

  • visual perception and the child's ability to identify objects that are similar - what looks the same and what looks different (the tiles match the wooden strip at the top). 
  • thinking symbolically - the image represents a real object.
  • language and vocabulary development - these objects have names.
  • making new discoveries about how the world works and learning things go together into categories - like shapes or clothes, fruits or vegetables, this is why the items need to be concrete, real in the child's environment. 
  • begin to identify and sort by colour.
  • allows the child to problem solve - the young child will pick up a tile and ask themselves "where does this go?", they find the matching/corresponding image and will post it into the wooden box, they have asked and answered the question. 

This is a good activity for developing hand-eye coordination and most toddlers like to post things. For a younger child this posting experience can assist with object permanence. I also like the movement involved in this activity, the act of posting the tile into the wooden box is satisfying to the child.

It's also wonderful for developing concentration as my toddler uses this on repeat, over and over as he can change the themes and reset the box himself. This repetition allows for mastery of the activity which is also deeply satisfying to the child. 

Montessori toddler sorting box at How we Montessori transportation box Otto 27 months

I also like to use the sorting box together as I've seen the most progress with language development. Many of these items Otto knows, but there are many words which are new like pentagon, rectangle, semi-circle.  It's strengthened his knowledge of words circle, triangle and so much more.

I love that the tiles can also be used separately, Otto loves playing with them, they are just the right size for carrying around in his pocket. It's super cute when he puts them in a straight line and then names them all, "car", "bike", "helicopter", "tractor".

Montessori toddler sorting box at How we Montessori transportation box Otto 27 months

Our sorting box comes with eight themes; vegetables, fruit, clothing, shapes, numbers, transport, household items, and animals. The animal theme is the only one we don't use as I really can't tolerate some of the slightly unusual illustrations (some of the animals are too cartoonish). In a couple of boxes I've listed below there are one or two themes that in my view are unacceptable, but these can be left out and not presented to the child. There are a few similar boxes on the market where all the images are cartoonish and I would avoid those. I like the Doron Layeled one below (#3) and I'd recommend this one for the classroom or playgroup environment. Our sorting box is #1. 

Montessori Sorting Boxes at How we Montessori toddler sorting and posting

1. / 2. (UK) / 3. (AU here) / 4. (UK) / 5. / 6.

Our storing box is wooden and is really strong, I can see it lasting years and being able to be passed on in an excellent condition. It could also be used by a younger child for simple posting activities without any matching. I could make my own themes and tiles on card as an extension idea? Lots of options!!

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