Year 1 Maths

Sorting Everyday Objects

paired socks

Get Ready

Gather an assortment of everyday items found around your house (or classroom). Choose items that can be sorted in different ways: by colour, size, weight, number, texture or function. Some examples include socks, books, buttons, stamps, old keys, kitchen utensils or toys.


Mix up your chosen set of items in front of you, then tell your child that you are going to sort the items into two groups and she will have to figure out your sorting rule. You should model the activity by choosing one variable—colour, size, weight, number, texture or function—and sort the items into two groups according to your rule. For example, sort the big books into one pile and the small books into the second pile, or sort the socks with any bits of blue on them into one pile and the other socks into the second pile. Be creative! Next, have your child create her own rule and have her sort the items into two categories while you guess her sorting rule. Later, try sorting items into three different groups, then four different groups.

Talk and Think

Help your child to develop vocabulary such as 'classify,' 'sets' and 'categories' while talking about how you sort your items. Use words to compare items such as 'same,' 'different,' 'fewer,' 'longer,' 'heavier' and 'lighter.' Talk about the concepts of similarity and difference by asking questions such as:

Go a Little Further

Give your child an item that doesn't belong in either group; for example, if you're sorting socks by colour, give her a book or a toy. Can she categorise this new item by adding it to one of the piles, or does it not belong? Talk about why the item is different, why it doesn't match your sorting rule and why it can't be sorted into either group.

This activity is adapted from pages 197 - 198 of What Your Year 1 Child Needs to Know, which can be purchased here.