We tend to think of children as untidy creatures and yet many are so are often drawn to sorting games, or activities in which they can create their own sense of order.
We tend to think of children as untidy creatures and yet many are so are often drawn to sorting games, or activities in which they can create their own sense of order. In this sense, sorting is an early form of maths (sadly, not a sign of a future tidy teenager.) By categorising and sorting - be it to their own criteria or one that is established by someone else - children are exploring the idea that certain things can be the same while others are different. They are beginning to understand organisation and grouping - applying logical thinking to aspects of everyday life. The greater their early understanding and dexterity in simple sorting games and activities, the more likely they are to enjoy and understand maths when it begins in earnest at school.
You can use special sorting toys such as beads and gems in baskets. But sorting is just as easy to factor into everyday situations with everyday items: when unloading the dishwasher, ask them to sort the plates by size or colour; after a walk collecting conkers categorise them by size or weight; when a bedroom becomes too messy, challenge them to devise new systems for their clothes or toys.