Another important concept for our students to understand is categorization. This requires our students to recognize and differentiate objects before they can categorize the objects into different groups. Categorization is the act of sorting and organizing objects/things into different groups or categories by like attributes. Categorization is a critical foundational skills to work on with your verbal and non-verbal students for them to begin to understand similarities and differences. Start simple and keep building up those categorization skills!
First, have your student sort different objects/pictures into 2 groups. I usually use very different items during this beginning stage and often start with tangible items. You can use items you have in group classroom already or parts to games. For example, I had my student sort those counting bears and soccer balls. They can sort crayons and cars. This is just sorting like items.
You can also just print out simple pictures and laminate them or use file folder activities. Apples and dogs are completely different so I used these pictures for the students to sort into 2 different categories. There are many different file folder activities that also target sorting like items.
If they can sort 2 like items have them sort more like items. Lakeshore Learning has lots of great sorting activities with manipulates. I’ll share some of them I like to use but I would check out their website if you need some additional sorting tasks. They are always changing their materials so some might be different from what I have but you get the idea.
After your students can sort like items I have them sort by color, shape, or size concepts. Color Discovery Boxes from Lakeshore Learning is a good starting point for color sorting. The student has to place the item in the correct color box. You can start by sorting with just 2 colors and move up to all 4 different color boxes.
This is another go to activity for me – “Sock Sorting” again from Lakeshore Learning. Sometimes I start by sorting 2 colors then I move to 3 or 4 colors until the student can sort all 6 different color socks independently.
Here is another color sorting activity I use with my students. You need to place the different color items into the correct color crayon. Again start by sorting 2 different colors and continue to build up the number of colors you sort.
Button Sorting is another great sorting activity because you can have the students sort by color, shape, or size. You can sort with 2 jar boards or more. It provides lots of flexible and multiple use which is what I look for when making a purchase.
You can have students sort items by different shapes. I got this Shape Sorting Center from Lakeshore Learning. A little trick I do with this activity is I put a piece of clear hard Velco on the items on each shape board. Then I put a piece of clear soft Velcro on the back of all the shapes so they student can place the shapes on the board and they don’t fall off. After some frustration with pieces going everywhere you learn some good tricks!
I also created some category boards which require the student to sort items by categories. I use this activity after my students can complete sorting by like objects, colors, and shapes. This activity if flexible because you can have the student sort by 2 very different categories to begin with like “ “animals” and “shapes” or “toys” and “food” and then you can move up to sorting by 4 or more categories. This also build up the student’s vocabulary skills. If you are interested in these category boards you can find them in our Category Mega Pack.
There are also different sorting file folder activities which your students can complete independently or during teacher instruction. I use this Patterning and Sorting File Folder Game Library from Lakeshore Learning with my students during therapy sessions. Student have to sort different items by the category.
Category Task Cards – The students have to name all the items and identify what category or how all the items in the group are similar.
A more challenging task includes identifying which item does not belong in a group of items. Check out these – “What doesn’t belong?” task cards.
Again check out this Category Mega pack for more category activities. It’s a great resource to use with your students. I could talk about categorization for another 2 pages but hopefully this provides a great start for building up those very important categorization skills.