Sorting is a favorite montessori activity for toddlers in the sensitive period for order starting somewhere between 18 to 21 months for most. It makes a great preschool or toddler activity for montessori at home moms too!
It gives them the opportunity to make sense of things in such a large world. Ultimately it provides a sense of comfort, accomplishment, and control. Not only is it great for their self esteem, but you'd be surprised how you can diminish a 2 year olds controlling “no no no's!” when you give them plenty of opportunities to sort and regain a sense of control and order in their life.
Plus it incorporates nature, sensory play, language development and categorizing – all skills that come in handy down the road!
Learn more about the montessori sensitive period for order:
- A bag
- Whatever you find in nature! This could be leaves, sticks, rocks, pine cones, acorns, seeds, etc!
- Sorting bins (optional)
- Sorting cards (optional)
Set up Montessori Fall Sorting Activity:
Take your bag and go for a walk with your child. Have them collect leaves, sticks, or whatever strikes their fancy! This is a great time to name the colors and objects you are collecting together. Try to get a few of each thing. For instance, you'll want a handful of leaves, not just one.
When you get home have your toddler or preschooler sort your collection!
You can have them do this directly on the floor, or you can take out 2-5 bowls or bins and have them place one of each item in the bowl.
Alternatively, you could use a print out of each item (like a printout picture of a leaf or a rock) and place that in or infront of each bowl or where each pile should be sorted on the floor.
Show your child how to sort the items you collected into the corresponding bowls. Leaves go in the leaf bowl. Rocks in the rock pile, etc.
Depending on the age of your child you may want to pre-sort the items and just begin with two. For instance, maybe you collected rocks, twigs, leaves, and acorns on your walk. But you just have them start by sorting the rocks and leaves. As they get those down, add in a third, and then the fourth category.
The beauty of this activity is you can set it up a few different ways over and over again!
As your child grows older you can even set up a miscellaneous “dump” bowl to encourage problem solving of “this item isn't like any of the others.” But when starting out, ideally each item will have a home.
Set up + Clean Up Time:
Beyond your initial walk, the set up time for this is literally just one to five minutes (depending if you choose to give them access to everything your collected or just two of the categories for sorting).
Clean up time is just as fast! You can either discard everything outside, in the trash, or back into your collecting bag to use again another day! Your child should help you with whichever clean up option you choose. Afterall, they were able to collect and sort the items, they'll be able to clean them up too!
How my toddler liked this montessori fall sorting:
She had A BLAST with this montessori fall sorting activity!
She was jumping in leaves on our walk and collecting a ton of items! Once we got home to sort, she was so excited to go through her collection and name each item. She kept repeating “Reagan's working!!” over and over again with such pride!
NOTE: Dr. Maria Montessori has a famous quote: “Play is the work of the child.” It's always been very important to my husband and I that our kids view work as play (we both are entrepreneurs who work from home and believes work should be fun and something you love).
She started showing her baby brother all her different items and explaining to him how she was sorting them. It was really the cutest thing ever! Afterwards she helped clean up and put all her stuff back in the bag so we could use the items for more fall inspired activities!
The walk was about 30 minutes and the actual activity kept her engaged for about 30 minutes – so I'd call this a success!
Check out more fall inspired preschool and toddler activities:
11 No Mess Fall Toddler Activities You NEED To Try At Home | Fall Toddler Activity: Contact Paper Tree | Fallen Leaves: Montessori Glue Box Activity | Fall Toddler Activity: Montessori Fall Smelling Jars | No Mess Fall Toddler Activity: Sticker Shapes | Montessori Sorting Fall Activity | EASY No Mess Pumpkin Activity For Toddlers: Sticky Pumpkin | Pumpkin Bath: Easy Toddler Activity For Halloween Or Fall | Pumpkin Fine Motor Activity For Toddlers To Do At Home This Halloween Or Fall | Fall Leaf Painting | Apple Tree Forest Fall Gross Motor Activity | Fall Oobleck Tray | 7 At Home Toddler Activities With Household Items You Already Own
11 Fun + Easy Halloween Activities For Toddlers: Sensory Learning | 21 Free Printable Halloween Color Pages + Activities For Kids | Halloween Activity: Apple Stamped Pumpkin Craft For Young Children | Halloween Toddler Activity: Spatula Pumpkin Craft! | How Do You Make A Witch Hat Out Of Paper? Dollar Tree Halloween DIY! | How To Set Up A FAST Halloween Sensory Paint Activity For Toddlers | Halloween Matching Game – Free Printable for Toddlers + Preschool Kids
Thanksgiving Toddler Activity: Feed The Turkey | EASY Thanksgiving Toddler Activity: Turkey Run