Teaching Sorting in FDK

Hi guys!

Today I wanted to share with you my favourite lessons and resources for teaching sorting in Kindergarten!


First of all here are my plans for sorting:

You can click on the image above to download the plans in PDF for easy printing!

On Day 1, I introduce our learning goal for sorting and define sorting:

Then we practice sorting by colour! I prepare a bag of items and have the students sort them into hoola hoops.

After the lesson I transferred them onto canvas to display as part of our sorting resource wall. I happened to have these canvases lying around but I know canvas is expensive so if you don't have canvases I would just use cardboard cut to size!

On Day 2, we reviewed the learning goal and then practice sorting by shape.

We sorted the shape buttons as a group and then transferred them onto the canvases again to put on our sorting wall.

On Day 3, we reviewed the learning goal and then practiced sorting by size.

We sorted these pom poms by size and then transferred them onto the canvases again to put on our sorting wall.

On Day 4, we introduced how we can sort in a variety of ways (not just colour, shape and size). We read the book "Sort It Out" by Barbara Mariconda and talked about all the ways Packy (the mouse in the story) sorted his stuff.

On Day 5, we reviewed the learning goal and talked about why we learn to sort and when we use this skill in our life. We talked about how we sort items in our classroom to help us find things easier and how things are sorted in the grocery store to help us find what we want easier too.

At the end of our unit our sorting reference wall looks like this:

When students sort items and can tell me their sorting rule, I take a picture and put it as an example under "I can sort things and say my sorting rule."


And here are some of the centres that we put out for the students to explore sorting:


Student make a sorting rule and sort them into the fruit cup containers.
I add tweezers for extra fine motor practice!


I have the students sort the beads by colour. 
I add the tongs for extra fine motor practice!
And if they use their finger, the small beads encourages them to use a pincer grip.


Sorting is awesome because you can literally sort anything! I love this bag of pom poms because there are different sizes. This way the kids can sort by size or colour!


I spread my home made tactile letters out around a bin of magnetic letters and encouraged the students to sort by letter. An easy way to integrate literacy and math :)


Then I did the same thing with number magnets!


When we first start sorting I put these sorting mats out to give those kids that need it more support.


I have these mats as well that asks the students to sort the pattern blocks by shape too!

You can find both mats (and many more) by clicking here.


After the students are familiar with sorting I start to set out multiple materials at a sorting centre and have the kids come up with different ways that they can sort the items!

Here is an example:


And here are some of my favourite interactive sorting games that you can put on your SMARTBoard!

My kids always love Fuzz Bugs! This game works on sorting by colour and other math skills like 1:1 correspondance and working on math vocabulary like most and least.

This and That Sort It Shop is another great one because it practices sorting by a variety of rules such as short vs. tall or 4 legs vs. 2 legs (as pictured above).

Flo & Zo Sort It Out! has sorting by colour, shape, pattern etc!


Here are also some apps that you can put on your iPad to give students with more practice with sorting at centre time! You can find them all in the App Store!

I hope you are able to use some of these ideas/resources in your classroom! What is your favourite activity or resource for teaching sorting?

Talk to you soon!

- Yukari

Added 08.10.20: 

You can find my updated lesson plans for sorting and all of my sorting mats here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Sorting-for-Kindergarten-Lesson-Plans-Hands-on-Centres-1448204 or by clicking on the images below: 

And I also now have a digital version! You can find these Google Slides here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Digital-Math-for-Kindergarten-Sorting-Google-Slides-6190392 or by clicking on the images below:


  1. Hi, I'm new to learning about Kindergarten (have been teaching for 17 years, but mostly in J/I). As I recently moved to the Ministry of Ed as an Education Officer with the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Branch, I've been doing a lot of work with the newly released Kindergarten Addendum for Growing Success.

    My colleagues have been talking to me a lot about what inquiry might look like in Kindergarten, with an emphasis on "noticing and naming", rather than sharing LG and co-constructing success criteria up front like we tend to do with the children in the higher grades... I'm intrigued by the nuanced differences, and am trying to wrap my head around this.

    The hyper organization of your flow in the blog post above really appeals to me, but I am wondering what might happen if you turned it on its head, i.e. put out a few things for students to sort at a centre a week or a few days *before* you begin your sorting unit, and then as children invariably start to sort by colour, shape or some other rule, you or your teaching partner notice and name these behaviours. Then later, you might pull a group of children (or the whole class?) together to comment on what you have been noticing at the sorting centre, and *then* share the learning goal. Rather than feeding them the rules by which to sort up front, I mean.

    Since you clearly have more "on the ground" experience with Kindergarten than I do, I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts about this... if you are willing your share your response? :)

    Thanks for sharing so many insightful photos and captions from your practice, btw! It's very inspirational to see all the wonderful things happening in Kindergarten classrooms across the province.

    1. Hi! I have read the new curriculum and the emphasis on "noticing and naming the learning" certainly caught my attention. I do believe that there can be a balance.

      I always have centres that encourage the practice of a variety of strands and provocations that encourage a variety of math skills too (e.g. I might put out a sensory bin with magnetic numbers in a variety of colours, unifix cubes and a variety of small animal figurines in some rice with 3 containers). The students could count the items, match it to the numbers, make a pattern, sort the items etc.

      So provocations of this sort would be out before I formally teach sorting and if the students are naturally sorting, my teaching partner and I may go over and name the learning. However I find that not all students will naturally sort or need more guidance than an open-ended provocation. So I do teach a mini-lesson daily (5 minutes max.) to ensure that all students are introduced to each math concept in the Kindergarten program. Then I do a diagnostic assessment and we create guided groups to focus on the students who need more practice with certain skills.

      So I guess my response is, although the blog post may have not made it clear, I do expose them the kids to a variety of materials that encourage the various strands of the Kindergarten curriculum from the get-go and notice and name the learning when possible, but also explicitly teach and state the learning goal and success criteria within my mini-lessons.

      I hope that makes sense! Thank you for your thoughtful comment. It was an unexpected but happy surprise to find in my inbox!

    2. I also want to add though, that I am of course no means an expert and on either learning goals, success criteria or noticing and naming the learning.. Like so many of my colleagues we are reading and making sense of the new curriculum and which parts we might be able to incorporate into our program to start. I am looking forward to taking more PD through out the school year and learning from others as we implement the new curriculum to best meet the needs of our students and to increase achievement and engagement :)

  2. Hello! Thank for your willingness to share! You are a true inspiration! I am wondering about your letters and numbers in this post. The black ones on wood? Where did you get these?


    1. I made them with wooden rectangles and felt stickers! Both can be bought at Michaels.

  3. Hello,

    Awesome resource! I am just wondering how long you spent on sorting before moving on to patterns?


    1. We do 5 days of mini lesson for sorting! Hope that helps!

  4. Hi Yukari,
    I was absolutely inspired by your site. Thank you for sharing your ideas with us. I love how the students have clear descriptors of what they are expected to do. The centers that you have would allow students to practice until they felt comfortable that they had mastered the skill. I was thinking that after the sorting unit, I might put the descriptors and the provocations into a tub, so students can pull them out throughout the year and compare their learning. Could possibly even circle back to this concept later in the year to add on other forms o sorting that they have discovered.