Level 2:  Receptive Language

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 groups.  Categorization is the act of sorting or organizing objects/things into different groups or categories by like attributes

Categorization is a great skill to work on with your verbal and non-verbal students.  You can work on categorizing using visuals and/or texts.  There are many different ways you can work on categorization skills depending on your student’s current level.  You can include a categorization goal into your student’s IEP plan.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Start simple.  First, sort 2 very different objects/pictures into 2 different categories.  For example, sort dogs and apples into 2 groups.  The student places all the dogs in one group and the apples in another group.  This begins with that initial skill of identifying the object, recognizing which are the same, and placing like items together.  You can do this by using objects you have in the classroom or print out some pictures and laminate them.  You can have the student sort pencils and toy cars or erasers and clothes pins.


  • Keep Sorting.  After your student has mastered sorting like objects start having the student begin to sort items into categories or sort items by color, size, or shape.  I usually being using common categories such as food, clothing, animals, places, vehicles, etc.  Have the student begin sorting items into 2 categories and continue to increase the number of categories as the student masters the task.  You can again use objects or print out different pictures for the student to sort.

3 categories

-Here is a fun activity to have the student sort socks by colors.

Category Pictures

sock sort

-This is a great activity for sorting items by shape.  shape sort 1

-This activity works on the student sorting different objects within the same category.

item sort

  • More Challenging.  After the student understands the concept of sorting items into categories start having the student complete some more challenging categorization tasks.  Here are some activities you can work on with your students who are ready for the challenge!

-Which item doesn’t belong?  The student can identify which item does NOT belong in a group of items and identify why the item doesn’t belong.

what doesn't belong



-Naming Items in a category.  Give the student a category and have him/her name/write 3 items within that category.

-Identify how 2 objects/items are similar and different.  Have the student tell/write 2 similarities and 2 differences between 2 or more objects.

-Associations Tasks.  The student identifies how 2 items are similar and why.

what goes together



We are working on a category pack which includes activities and worksheets to target these categorization skills.  It will be a great resource to use with your students.

Sarah The Speech Helper


  1. Excellent explanation. I had a new student this year. We started out just as you described – simply with cars and trees, birds and trees, etc.. It was very, slow going with a great deal of modeling and reinforcement. I coincidentally used some of your file folder items. The student then advanced to big and little birds. After that it was much faster progress and a variety of materials and images. They understood what to do and had moved beyond just listening to the sound of Velcro or tapping on the table. They could work independently. My staff and I were so proud of the progress made by this particular student. It became a peak experience in my teaching career because everything clicked and the child loved to learn.

  2. Great to hear!


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