18 - 48 Months+

Making graphs with toys

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Young kids love to sort and compare; simple painter’s tape and small toys can turn into a great pre-math activity. By age 3, many kids are in the early stages of being able to sort simple primary colors; this is still relatively complex at this age, so try to limit the number of colors you’re using.

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED AND HOW TO DO IT:

  • Collect several different types of toys (blocks, cars, dolls, etc.); make sure you have enough to match across different properties, like color, size, length, and toy type.
  • Use painter’s tape to lay out several columns on the ground (other types of low-tack tape work too; test out a small piece to make sure it comes off easily).
  • Let the sorting begin! Depending on your child’s comfort and familiarity with sorting, you may need to help get them started. You can start simple: “can you put all the big toys in this section, and all the small toys here?” Once they’ve done that, try it by color: “can you find the red blocks and put them here, and the yellow blocks here?”
  • Sort by other attributes, offering help when needed: the length of the toy, the type (all trucks in one column, all planes in another, all trains in a third), the shape (triangles here, circles here). You can also give your child free reign—you may be surprised to see what attribute they choose to sort by.
  • If they organize the toys in seemingly random ways, let them! You can say “oh, that’s interesting. Why did you put all these toys in this space?”
  • Talk about which column has the most toys, and which has the fewest. Ask for predictions before you count. This makes for great counting practice; encourage them to touch each toy in a column as they count to support one-to-one correspondence.

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Posted in: 18 - 48 Months+, Playtime & Activities, Playtime & Activities

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