Monday, November 12, 2012
The Sorting Game
Every Friday, we play The Sorting Game. This is something I kind of made up myself, based on something my mom used to do with my little brother (hers involved dried beans), though I'm sure there are lots of people doing things like this. But since my kids love this, and I made up our version myself, I thought I'd share it here.
First off, before I ever told them about this game, I started collecting different objects that I had in my craft stash or around the house. I saved an egg carton and numbered each egg hole with a marker, 1 through 12.
Then I found little oddments to go in each of these. One little peg person, three fuzzy little bears, four pieces of sea glass, ten round beads, and so on. They had to be small enough to fit all of a particular thing into the designated carton hole. I did end up buying eight little wooden pots that look like Winnie-the-Pooh's pots of honey (as Daniel and Mercedes are both Pooh fans) and twelve plastic "jewels," but the rest I had on hand. I put them in a gauzy bag the kids can see through but has a drawstring so stuff won't get lost when it's put up.
I'd originally planned this to be an activity for Mercedes to do while Daniel is working on writing or math, but the first time I brought it out, I quickly discovered it was much too interesting to Daniel for that to work right now, so I've adapted the activities to be challenging for him too.
Like the name suggests, this is all about sorting. I let them pour the bag out on a cookie sheet so we don't lose things. This also helps keep them focused and on task.
Usually, we begin by just sorting everything out by what they are, bears with bears and jingle bells with jingle bells, etc. We take turns counting all of one thing and finding the appropriate place for them in the egg carton. Daniel's above this part, but I've noticed that in the last few weeks, Mercedes has really gotten a lot better at counting, and she's recognizing more numbers too.
Once we've done this basic sorting, we do more interesting things, and this is the part that challenges Daniel more. Sometimes we sort by color, which is more for Mercedes too, but Daniel likes deciding if "white" and "silver" and "clear" should be their own thing or not, etc.
Then we mix everything up again and sort by some other method. We can sort by shape, by size, by what the objects are made of (wood, plastic, metal, etc), what they feel like (soft, smooth, bumpy), and what they're used for (beads, stacking, telling stories).
We've been doing this every Friday for about two months straight, and I've swapped out a few pieces to keep things interesting. But this past Friday, they seemed quickly bored by the sorting, so I think I will put this away for a few weeks, maybe find some Christmas-y things to mix in after Thanksgiving. I might also incorporate some story-telling into this activity, like use the bears and peg fairy to act out "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" or something. I was also thinking of finding some great big wooden beads in different colors, making them work for sorting here, and then also helping the kids string them on yarn to make necklaces or something. It's a pretty adaptable activity.