Sorting activities are such a great way to develop those all important fine motor skills when Building Someone Amazing. The small muscles in their hands are worked hard when grasping and releasing small manipulatives, and also when using fine motor tools. I love putting together simple sorting trays for my 3 year old. They are easy to set up but keep her engaged, and also provide the opportunity to work on colors, numbers and even literacy too. In this blog we are sharing three fun sorting trays which have a spooky twist ready for Halloween. The trays we use are lunch trays from Dollar Tree, the pumpkins and cauldrons are from Party City, and the erasers are from Target and Dollar Tree.
Big Pumpkin, Little Pumpkin: Sorting by Size
Sorting by size is a great way to start your child with these kinds of activities. We kept things really simple and used a large pumpkin pot and a small pumpkin pot. On the tray there were large pumpkin erasers and small pumpkin erasers. My little one referred to them as Mommy and Baby pumpkins!
I always like to include a fine motor tool with sorting trays but it’s worth mentioning that I never force my daughter to use it. Sometimes she just dives straight in and uses her hands to pick up the manipulatives, other times she will use the tool. Both ways are great for her fine motor skills! Here you can see she attempted to use the Tri-Grip Tongs for the entire activity which was great. This tool is a twist on traditional tongs because it has a third prong and encourages the child to coordinate more muscles to grasp the manipulative.
My little one happily sorted the small pumpkins into the small pot, as well as the big pumpkins into the big pot. Once she was done we took the activity a little further and counted how many of each type we had, as well as how many pumpkins in total there were.
Purple Orange Green, Which Color Have you Seen: Sorting by Color
I added a dot sticker to the handles of our mini cauldrons to create this fun sorting by color activity. My daughter enjoyed all of the different spider and skull erasers, and spent her time carefully picking out the colors.
The Squeezy Tweezers™ are one of our favorite fine motor tools. They are really easy to use and are the perfect combination of a tweezer and scooper. The mini erasers were just the right size to fit inside the scoop! Once my daughter had finished sorting the erasers by color, she emptied each color cauldron and then sorted the type of eraser within each color collection. This was a great way to extend the fine motor fun, as well as sneaking in some numeracy.
Pumpkin or Witch: Sorting by Type
This one required a little more processing which meant there was more challenge in the activity for my 3 year old. She actually ended up liking it the most because she got to talk so much about witches and cats. There were Primary Science Jumbo Tweezers® available for her to use on the tray which was great for encouraging her pincer grasp.
Her task was to sort the erasers into witch themed ones which went in the cauldron pot, and pumpkin themed ones which went in the pumpkin pot. There was lots of conversation about where the cat erasers should go, with my little one making the valid point that maybe cats like to eat pumpkins. Then she remembered that the witch in one of her favorite books, Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson, had a pet cat. I love when activities prompt in depth discussions like this.
Do you have a favorite way to set up sorting activities? I’ve always found that using a tray of some sort helps to keep the activity area organized and therefore the activity itself a little more structured. These little erasers made for the perfect slightly spooky manipulatives, but sorting can be done with so many things, even everyday items such as buttons, or natural items such as leaves and rocks.